By Michaela Brooks
Day 1 and Day 2 of Jim Knight’s Intensive Coaching, as stated by fellow instructional coach, Diana Williams, was intense. Better Conversations and the Impact Cycle is a coach’s dream. It is the bulk of what we do. Within those conversations and impact cycles, we really dive deep into supporting the growth of teachers in research-based instructional practices. Day 3 is where we dug into student engagement strategies.
I am Michaela Brooks, Paddock Road Elementary instructional coach. Diana and I started into Day 3 in an area where we support our teachers the most. Jim Knight started off explaining why engagement is so important. Engagement creates happiness, builds relationships, increases productivity, and most importantly, increases learning. This, after all, is our #1 goal as educators.
Jim Knight began teaching us about the elements of flow. When we are engaged in a task, we are at an optimal flow. Think of children and video games. Throughout the game, they have goals and receive feedback as they go from one level to the next. Their attention is focused on the task at hand, and they meet challenges in the games their skill level can tackle. They feel in control, it becomes effortless, and get lost in time. Action and consciousness begin to blends as the concern for themselves disappears. At this point, the child is fully engaged and at optimal flow. Our tasks as educators are to create learning experiences with this flow.
In order for us to better support increased student engagement, we needed to understand the levels of engagement. Jim spoke to various levels of engagement: emotional engagement, authentic engagement, strategically compliant, and not engaged. There was an interesting graph from the Gallup Student Poll on percent engagement from elementary through high school. In elementary, there was 76% engagement, 61% in middle school, and 44% in high school. I found this interesting coming from a secondary teaching and coaching background. “Student engagement in grades 5-12 is less than 50%” – Shane Lopez. As I reflected, I wondered how we could take more of a proactive approach creating learning environments where engagement does not decline as we go through the grades, yet rather maintain or increase engagement.
Finally, the majority of the day, we looked at various strategies, checklist, and ideas on how to coach teachers to be aware of their current reality in the classroom and increase student engagement. We investigated three main types of engagement: behavior, cognitive, and emotional engagement. We examined the effects of using time on task charts, experience sampling, students self-assessment, exit tickets, and the list goes on. In fact, you can find Jim’s pdf of these checklists and forms on Corwin’s site: Instructional Coaches’ Toolkit. This sparked many ideas and ways to come back and support teachers. Our biggest idea and take away from this day was an Instructional Playbook. Resources that teachers and administrators can utilize in building teacher capacity. Diana and I brainstormed and created a demo playbook of instructional best practices. However, we felt the value in taking it a step further and aligning it to our Framework For Teaching. Fast forward to today, and we have begun the development of the WCS Instructional Best Practice website. (Stay tuned….). This day was exciting and engaging!