This post is prompted by another blog post from The Future of K-12 Education—Is “Active Engagement” the Key Characteristic of Effective Teaching?
The post talks about how in a recent Gallup survey it was found that 7 out of 10 workers were either “’not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ in their jobs”.
I had some thoughts about what this might mean exactly, but decided I wanted a definition. A quick Google search led me to this definition from a paper entitled “Strategic Sales Reinforcement – Types of Employees Impacting Cultural Change“:
ACTIVELY DISENGAGED employees are defined as employees who “aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish. [emphasis added]
If we bring this thought into a school, do we have actively disengaged staff? We would all hope not, but I think I’ve seen a few.
So what does it mean to be actively engaged as a teacher in a school? Here are a few initial thoughts of mine:
An actively engaged teacher in a school is:
- openly supportive of the vision, goals and philosophy of the school—they know what they are and their work reflects this.
- supportive of new or trial initiatives in the school—they get involved, give it a go, see the positives over the negatives and are willing to help work through any issues that arise.
- someone who inquires into their own practice and shares their findings with their colleagues—what has worked, what hasn’t, what they’ve discovered.
If we get more focused and look at an actively engaged teacher in a classroom, what does this look like? Again, these are just my initial thoughts:
An actively engaged teacher in a classroom:
- has developed and continues to develop positive relationships with their students—they know them not only academically but also as a person.
- chooses to be passionate about what they are teaching and finds ways to instil that passion into their students—this might be in the form of authentic learning activities that are personalised to the students, for example.
- gets actively involved in students learning—sits alongside and learns with them, guides them to find things out for themselves, helps them to explore interests and questions that arise.
- Is a lifelong learner—If our goal is to develop young people “who will be confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners” (NZ Curriculum Vision), then surely we also have to be willing to be the same!
One thing that the teachers who were interviewed in my Masters research highlighted in regards to seeing students engaged online was that if they [the teachers] weren’t engaged or didn’t come back to an online discussion/activity, then the students often did not engage it it either. It’s not a new thing to us. The teacher needs to play an active role in the learning process, however the active role may take a lot of different forms.
Teacher engagement is important but how often do we talk about it? We hear a lot about student engagement, but the engagement of teachers may be just as important.
Are YOU actively engaged in your school and classroom?
Have you got anything to add, or would you change anything to my brief lists of what an actively engaged teacher looks like? I would appreciate your thoughts in the comments section.