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.
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.