The relationship between teaching and learning is an important one for teachers, students and parents to understand. Anyone can stand in front of a classroom of students and talk, including teachers. There is a lot more to teaching than just talking. The key to teaching is the relationship it has with learning and the relationship learning has with engagement. I believe that every teacher wants students to learn. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be teachers. As a teacher it can also be frustrating trying to balance academic standard requirements with engagement. The Canadian Education Association published a report about engagement and learning. In the report, the authors state, “The concept of intellectual engagement resonates strongly with many educators because it represents the kinds of learning that they aspire to for all students. Yet often the most basic of structures in schools — in this case marking practices and definitions of academic success — can work against the emergence of practices that would support higher levels of achievement and engagement among larger numbers of students. Existing models of assessment rarely measure these higher types of learning or the competencies they foster” (Dunleavy, Willms, Milton, & Friesen, 2012).

The question is whether every student wants to learn and how to get every student to learn, especially when academic outcomes are measured by tests. Of course, engagement plays a significant role in getting students to want to learn. But, is it possible for all students be engaged all of the time? Honestly, I will have to say that it is not possible, at least not 100% of the time. I feel that the key is to concentrate on the relationship between engagement and learning.

One way to accomplish engagement and learning is to “focus on a handful of powerful ideas and create experiences where students naturally need to stretch their understanding, students learn more. The role of the teacher is to create and facilitate these powerful, productive contexts for learning. One simple way to do this is to make your teaching mantra, ‘Less Us, More Them’” (Martinez & Stager, 2013). By allowing students the opportunity and responsibility to extend their learning, they get to be meaning makers of the material that needs to be covered. The content becomes relatable to their lives. I believe that when students apply content to their lives, they can then share it with others. But the students aren’t the only ones who need to share. Teachers need to share ideas that work with other teachers. As a teacher, I am always looking for better ways to reach my students. I want them excited to learn and if another teacher has found something his or her students are excited about, I want to know about it too! I know I have a lot to learn and I truly love learning. It is a daunting task to trying to figure everything out on my own. Luckily, I don’t have to because I have teachers who share their ideas with me. Diniz-Pereira (2003) wrote, “we should look at school not only as a teaching-and-learning institution but also as a place where people develop collaborative research. I argue that collaborative teacher research to be developed in schools as well as teacher education programs is one possibility for transcending or transforming traditional teacher identity formation.

**References**

Diniz-Pereira, E. J. (2003). *The Social Construction of Teachers’ Individualism: How to Transcend Traditional Boundaries of Teachers’ Identity?* University of Wisconsin Madison.

Dunleavy, J., Willms, J., Milton, P., & Friesen, S. (2012). *Report Number One: The Relationship Between Student Engagement And Academic Outcomes.* Toronto: Canadian Education Association.

Martinez, S., & Stager, G. (2013). *Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom.* Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

As I read your blog I was thinking of a balancing act. I like how you also touched on the importance of the parents. You also wrote about collaboration, which is so important for teachers. We need to share and learn from each other. I follow Vicki Davis (Cool Cat Teacher) on Twitter and she tweeted that all teachers should take 10 minutes a day to research educational resources. Since enrolling in the EDET program I have learned to use Twitter to find useful information about education, I would have never thought Twitter could help me be a better teacher.

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Social media has been a great resource for me as a teacher. I have found classroom management ideas, crafts, and ways to extend and reteach some curriculum. Twitter is something I only use occasionally, but I would probably use it more if I found teaching resources on it.

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Cherie- I have to agree with you on if the student wants to learn. Sometimes no matter what you do the student doesn’t want to. I also don’t think it is possible for every student to be engaged 100% of the time. I think that is important for teachers to share and collaborate. I really like that we have teams in middle school. As a team we meet and then we can talk about students that we are concerned about. Then if something worked in one class the teacher would let us know and we can try it in our class. If we are unified as a team I think it would help the students as well.

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I think that collaboration is something that could be promoted more. My school does grade level meetings once a week, but we don’t spend time exchanging ideas, instead we are given a topic to discuss or work on together. I do collaborate with other teachers on my own time. It is nice that you can talk to teachers who have the same students as you and exchange ideas and suggestions.

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Yes it is great! when we see a common problem then we call a parent meeting and let them know that we see this in all of our classes. We then come up together with ideas to help the student.

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You’ve touched on some of the same ideas that surfaced for me with this question. In particular, I have struggled with finding meaningful and engaging ways to teach the required academic standards. There are so many factors involved in successfully helping students learn, but I think you’ve hit on a key one: engagement. I found this excerpt from Invent to Learn particularly interesting, “As for the research studies: Collectively, they make it clear that students who are graded tend to differ from those who aren’t in three basic ways. They’re more likely to lose interest in the learning itself. They’re more likely to prefer the easiest possible task. And they’re more likely to think in a superficial fashion as well as to forget what they were taught.” While this doesn’t come right out and say ‘engagement,’ I think it’s highly relevant and highlights the struggle we face as teachers in trying to balance our current system of teaching with our students needs. Do I think we should just do away with grades? Probably not. But I am becoming increasingly interested in the idea of Making as a way to create powerful and motivating classroom experiences that promote learning.

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I am also very interested in Making in my classroom. I agree that it will help motivate my students while promoting learning. It really is about the learning and how to effectively make it happen. I’ve started a list of the standards I am required to teach this coming year and which standards I can do through making. I am finding that there are a lot of ways to incorporate making into my classroom.

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I sure wish I could have 100% engagement all of the time. There are days when I get close and others when kids seem all over the place. I’ve found that adding more projects has increased engagement significantly. When I use these projects in place of traditional tests and quizzes, the engagement level goes up even higher. This is where collaboration is the most valuable. It’s a challenge to develop a project on your own. Having more than one set of ideas helps lighten that load and usually ends up with a better project.

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