Throughout this course, I’ve learned a tremendous amount on student engagement and assessment tools that measure the engagement of schools and community. Although I currently co-teach at a private Montessori school, having this knowledge is still beneficial and can heighten future learning opportunities that I can take with me. My 1st grade classroom is operated much like a public school classroom which make these new teaching practices applicable and relevant.
Creating my own engagement plan that target a wide population was very interesting and a fun experience. Doing so, I got a taste of what it’s like to be on the other end of the education word and felt the stress level of the administration. It is no simple task to create an engagement survey and the steps that follow the engagement survey are not simple either. This course definitely opened my curiosity about engagement tools and assessments.
The most important teaching practice I took from this course is student engagement and how to best achieve that. Since I currently co-teach in a 1st grade classroom, it’s important for my co-teacher and I to plan and figure out the best way to heighten student engagement. Co-teaching has had many benefits to students’ learning. Students are receiving the same information taught by two teachers simultaneously. I refer to this as “one brain two bodies.” Students will also be divided into two groups and the lesson will be taught simultaneously. This helps with management and the teachers are responsible for a smaller body of students versus the entire class. When I divide the class into two, I find that the students are more engaged as they are less distracted by other students. Since there’s a smaller body of students when I divide, students will zone in on the lesson and become more engaged. Often times, I will pull selected students who require the individualized learning experience and my co-teacher will teach the rest of the class. By planning and structuring the class this way, I can easily keep students who require individualized learning engaged in the learning process and be less distracted by their peers.
Collaborative learning between students has a lasting effect on learning and student engagement. Melinda Dooly, author of Telecollaborative Language Learning, explains that with collaborative learning, “students are actively exchanging, debating and negotiating ideas to increase students’ interest and learning” (Dooly, 2008). I have seen the exchange between my students each time they are put in collaborative groups. My 1st grade students understand the importance of working together towards a common goal and it’s nice to see them respond to this request.
Keeping lessons rigorous and actively promoting student engagement are teaching practices that increase buy-in. When a child is actively engaged in a lesson, he/she will better retain the information and enjoy learning. These teaching practices should be reinforced and the important role they play in students’ education.
A future goal I have for myself is to continually develop and learn from new teaching practices to enhance student engagement. I plan on attending professional development courses on best educational practices.
Another future goal I have for myself is to rigorously use the new teaching practices learned and select the teaching practices I feel are necessary to share among my colleagues and school.
Constructing Knowledge Together (21-45). Extract from Telecollaborative Language Learning. A guidebook to moderating intercultural collaboration online. M. Dooly (ed.). (2008) Bern: Peter Lang.