(This is also published as new addition to the “EXPECTATIONS” post on www.marginallearninggains.com)
The Line of Engagement
Reflecting on to what degree pupils are engaging in their own learning and what this looks like, rather than whether they just simply, ‘are or are not engaged’ is another important dimension of the mindset of expectant teaching that you may wish to develop.
Here are some reflective and observational questions to hold in your head when the lesson is underway that you can use as part of your Marginal Learning Gains micro-action research:
QUESTION: Who is at what level of engagement for a SPECIFIC phase of the lesson?
(1) PARTICIPATING: Those who are simply ‘there’, being compliant to others and the lesson and completing tasks as and when they decide to, possibly prompted by eye contact with you or your proximity to them.
(2) INVOLVED: Those who are following the path of least resistance, making you aware that they are there by answering the first and / or lowest challenge, ‘quick win’ questions but not taking their own thinking further or developing it beyond the initial stages. They don’t pose their own questions and certainly don’t take up the challenge of driving their own (or others’) learning on.
(3) ENGAGED: BINGO! These are the students who question, consider, pose, test and really grapple with their own learning. They clarify their understanding through further questions to you and their peers and uses phrases like ‘I had a go at this…what do you think?’ These students demonstrate a real sense of AGENCY.
This approach can also be assessed and, more powerfully, peer and self assessed through powerful learning conversations that might begin with…
- What do you think is the difference between (a) PARTICIPATING (b) BEING INVOLVED (c) BEING ENGAGED?
- How ENGAGED (a) Do you EXPECT to be today (b) Did you EXPECT to be today?
- What does ‘being engaged’ look, sound and feel like for (a) you (b) your peers/ learning buddy?
- How do you need to change your EXPECTATIONS of yourself SO THAT you can move up the mountain of ENGAGEMENT?
Here’s a familiar (to those of you who know me well) visual prompt that you might want to adapt to support such questions with your groups…
If you’ve got a genuinely engaged group, then you may wish to really place the challenge of learning at their feet with an adapted mantra:
“Ask not what you EXPECT of me, but what you EXPECT of yourself”…or something like that! Improved suggestions on a postcard, please…
Please let me know how you get on with this MLG. Unpicking EXPECTATIONS is a critical component of the MLG project and one MLG that has massive potential when it comes to aggregating the MLGs.