Right now, our schools are not set up to match students’ talents with college and career paths they find fulfilling and on which they excel. The current focus on standardized testing assumes that all students should have a similar educational experience. We leave little time for students to figure out what they love to do and where their greatest talents lie. We waste time and talent.
This is a quote from Connie Rath, the vice chair of Gallup Education, in an introductory letter to the State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education. In her letter, Rath also discussed the factors that affect student engagement:
Excellent teachers, supported by gifted and visionary school leaders, keep students engaged in the learning process and hopeful about their own futures. . . . [S]tudents who strongly agreed that their school is committed to building students’ strengths and that they have a teacher who makes them excited about the future are almost 30 times as likely to be engaged learners as their peers who strongly disagreed with both statements.
What if schools prioritized these principles of talent exploration and engagement in the learning process?
Although much has been written about the achievement gap, very little has been written about redirecting our focus to the engagement gap. Increasing student engagement may be the best way to ensure that effective learning is taking place. Focusing on engaging pedagogy may be far more beneficial than narrowing our attention only to the outcomes.
It’s within this context that we will discuss the engagement gap during this spring’s Whole Child Symposium. We will discuss what we mean by engagement, why engagement is important, and how we can manifest engagement. Ultimately, we will determine how we can make each school and each classroom an all-engaging environment.
We will be joined by the kinds of education leaders Rath highlighted in her letter—leaders who are energetic, engaging, motivated, and eager to put the child at the center of the educational process.
- Russell Quaglia, Founder and President of the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations
- Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of DC Public Schools
- Bena Kallick, ASCD author and speaker on Habits of Mind
- Joe Fatheree, Global Teacher of the Year Top Ten Finalist