7 Indicators That Your Students Are
Most teachers agree with the notion that student engagement is a fundamental prerequisite for the learning of mathematics. However, when it comes to implementing approaches to teaching, student engagement is rarely given the status it deserves. This is often because student engagement is not only difficult to measure, it is often confused with ‘the entertainment of students via games and jovial dispositions of the teacher’.
To overcome these implications and to help bring student engagement to the forefront of any pedagogy, when working with teachers I use the term ‘Authentic Student Engagement’ – a term that implies a student’s genuine interest in what is being taught. There are several obvious indicators that accompany authentically engaged students.
Seven indicators that you have authentic engagement:
1. Students want to be in the room.
2. Students don’t need to near the 'top of their class' in order to enjoy lessons.
3. Students find the tasks interesting.
4. Students are immersed in the work and understand what they’re learning due to the well-constructed, conceptually-based activities.
5. Students are responsible for their own learning because they are at the centre of it.
6. The student-centred nature of the activities enabled them to have a sense of ownership over the learning.
7. Students thrive because the learning is social with peer learning being a key feature.
These signs indicate that your students are not merely engaged with lesson games or teacher-student discourse, but with the actual work being undertaken.
So now we know how to see when our students are authentically engaged, how best can we strive to have all our students exhibiting these signs?
In my experience, I’ve found that techniques from a well-structured conceptual approach to teaching mathematics can dramatically increase authentic student engagement. This is because conceptual teaching is centred around students understanding what they’re working on, becoming immersed in activities, and owning their learning.
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If you’re interested in reading more about conceptual approaches to teaching mathematics, check out this article. Otherwise, feel free to leave a comment.