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Student Engagement

Authentic Engagement and Student-Centered Learning

The concept of student engagement has been sharpened and clarified over the years.  Gone are the days of lecture-style teaching where engagement meant students were compliant, sitting still, and focused on the teacher.  Today, education is moving away from teacher-led instruction to student-centered learning.  You will hear buzz words such as levels of engagement, student cognitive load, relevance, and brain-based learning.  What does this mean for educators?  The state and education standards require teachers to create a learning environment where the students are authentically seeking out knowledge with a high degree of interest, attention, curiosity, and passion.  Appraisers are looking to see that the students are actively immersed in activities, discussions, and projects a majority of the lesson cycle.  It is imperative that you know the rules before you play the game.  As you plan and guide learning, know the following:  educator standards, evaluation rubric, and engagement strategies. 

Educator Standards

In Educator Standard 1 (D), the Commissioner of Education clearly defines the teacher’s role in engaging students.  Per the standards, teachers are expected to do the following:

      • Teachers ensure that the learning environment features a high degree of student engagement by facilitating discussion and student-centered activities as well as leading direct instruction.
      • Teachers validate each student’s comments and questions, utilizing them to advance learning for all students.
      • Teachers encourage all students to overcome obstacles and remain persistent in the face of challenges, providing them with support in achieving their goals.

Read the complete Educator Standards here. 

T-TESS and Student Engagement

Appraisers are trained to look for certain behaviors when checking for student engagement.  Planning Dimension 1.4 in the T-TESS Rubric spells out what appraisers expect to see during classroom observations.  Read the expectations here.


Check out a collection of resources that that illustrates strategies used in highly engaged classrooms in the links below.

Rules of Engagement to get students actively learning:

Students’ wish list for engaging classrooms:

Extensive list of engagement strategies for various levels and learning environments:

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