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Measuring Engagement

Feedback.

The first time I heard, in my prior district, that I needed to collect feedback from parents and students, I seriously started contemplating whether I needed to find a new district. After all, I already spent an insane amount of time doing so much work beyond the minimum….all I could think was “I really don’t care what anyone thinks after I have done that much work.”

Over time, and with slow steps in ways that felt safe for me, I began to incorporate feedback into my practice, as documented in earlier blog posts where I publicly reflect on the feedback collected at various points throughout the past years.

Now, it is such second-nature for me that I am brought up short when a teacher doesn’t want to solicit feedback on his or her practice. Why wouldn’t you want to know what your teaching feels like for your students? Why wouldn’t you want to ensure that you are creating the best possible learning experience for the maximum number of your students, with all of your students as the goal?

In looking to find language to help teachers understand why building a feedback loop matters, I found myself back at the UDL Progression Rubric, back at the source:

“Empower students to make choices or suggest alternatives for what they will learn, how they will learn, and how they will express what they know in authentic ways. Free them to self-monitor and reflect on their choices with teacher facilitation and feedback but not explicit direction.” Optimize individual choice and autonomy (7.1)

“Encourage students to provide feedback and drive teacher instruction…” Build fluencies with graduated levels of support for practice and performance (5.3)

“Empower students to self-reflect and independently choose the most appropriate materials, strategies, and tools to guide information processing, visualization, and manipulation, searching for additional tools and strategies, if necessary.” Guide information processing, visualization, and manipulation (3.3)

What I am coming to understand is that we need to gather feedback on engagement, not on content mastery.  Questions we look to answer might include:

  • How do our students experience our instruction?
  • How do our students experience our instructional choices?
  • How/When/Where do our students have an opportunity to have a voice in their education in safe and meaningful ways that impact their own experiences?
  • How/When/Where do our students have an opportunity to drive/change/control/impact their own educational experiences?

As we create the feedback tools or opportunities, we are looking to measure the student experience in the classroom, which directly impacts students’ ability to be engaged. Now more than ever, with students in and out of remote instruction through a revolving door, we must strive for ever-higher levels of engagement. If we are not asking students to tell us about their experiences in our classrooms, then we will never truly understand what drives them to be engaged….or to be disengaged.

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