Archived Story

John Jarpe: Rules of engagement apply to classroom

Published 5:00pm Wednesday, February 6, 2013

By John Jarpe, Superintendent of Brandywine Community Schools

Rules of Engagement is a military term that refers to the conditions of a situation and how much force troops should use in the circumstances they meet.  In education, “engaged” is a term used quite often nowadays to describe how much students are paying attention and involved with a lesson.  In schools, we’re developing our own Rules of Engagement.
Engagement is a key concept in teaching anyone.  There is lots of research to show that the more engaged a person is in a lesson or topic, the greater the chances of retaining and learning the lesson.  To make learning interesting sounds like common sense, but many people at all levels of education present boring, dry, non-engaging lessons to students of all ages.
It even happens to teachers when they go back to school.  We always have staff members evaluate our professional development sessions so we know how the topics were addressed, whether teachers learned anything new and how we might plan for future professional development.  After our last in-service day, a teacher made an interesting comment regarding a series of webinars on the new Common Core Curriculum Standards.
“We’re not supposed to lecture too much to students as part of our teaching.  And, this was all lectures.”  Another commented about how boring it all was:  “….lectures, on and on and on…”
There were references made to presenters reading straight from what’s on a PowerPoint, “dry” presentations and generally not engaging the audience of the webinar.
A touch of humor, a story to illustrate a point, a personable speaking style, the use of charts or diagrams —all of these can make even the dullest topics easier to follow, and contribute to a more engaging lesson.
Perhaps the scholars who did the Common Core webinar series need to go back to school themselves and improve their instruction.  If you’ve read all the way to this point, thanks for staying engaged!

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