Great teachers are great designers. Great teachers craft a lesson around what the student will be asked say and do, not what the teacher will say and do. Great teachers engage students. Great teachers engage in learning that innovates the environment, stimulates curiosity, creates optimism, and generates energy.
To find the greatest of all teachers, look at the Gospels. Jesus engaged his disciples deeply in learning while He was with them and genuinely cared for His disciples in all ways. He crafted learning experiences. He told stories, He shocked people with hyperbole. He spoke poetically, He asked questions. He created a variety of small group, large group, and individual experiences.
Maryellen Weimer, Ph.D., from The Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning states that most research on engagement all comes back to these three premises:
Behaviorally engaged students do what students are supposed to do in class. They adhere to the rules and norms, and they display behaviors associated with persistence, concentration, and attention. They ask questions and contribute during discussions.
Emotional engagement reveals students’ attitudes toward learning. Those attitudes can range from simply liking what they’re doing to deeply valuing the knowledge and skills they are acquiring.
Cognitive engagement involves effort and strategy use. It’s wanting to understand something and being willing to go beyond what’s required in order to accomplish learning goals. Those who are cognitively engaged use strategies associated with deep learning.
At Grove Christian School, an additional focus is placed on spiritual engagement which involves how a student discusses faith, participates in prayer and Bible study, offers social support to others, and seeks community service or commitment to others.
The art of engaging students demands a commitment to making learning meaningful, fostering a sense of competence, providing support for autonomy, creating opportunities for collaboration, promoting mastery and…most of all…establishing positive teacher-student relationships. At Grove, we want to engage His students deeply in their learning while we are with them and genuinely care for the students in all ways – spiritually, intellectually, socially/emotionally and physically. We want to craft learning experiences that last. Like Jesus.