“It [Engagement] is a vital skill/habit for young people in the life they will lead once their diploma has been framed and put in a place on honor on the wall.”
This morning I presented a talk entitled “Deepening Student Engagement” to our Parents Association Spring Breakfast in the parish hall of the Germantown Campus of St. George’s Independent School. The central content of the talk would not be a surprise to recent readers of the blog as student engagement has centered my writing for a couple of months.As I reflect on the talk–it seemed to go well–I find that I am reminded of my appreciation for positive parent partnership in the life of the school. I believe that together we can help young people stay focused on the life they are living NOW–I wrote something relevant to this topic in November 2015 in a post entitled, “Deep, Thoughtful, Engaged Lives NOW for our Students”. I worry about the extent to which we ask kids to be focused on a life they do not have yet—where are they going to go to college? Where are they going to work? When we do this too much we risk stealing a little bit of their youth from them, we interfere with their learning and growth, and we reduce the extent to which they can be engaged in the life they have right now. In other words we risk limiting their sense of agency–their belief that they have some control over their lives and involvements.A young person’s ability to engage learning and contributing in both the school and the community is a skill that parents and educators can help him or her develop by way of creating dynamic learning communities and compelling opportunities for involvement. We can look at engagement in this sense as a good habit developed by way of practice. It is a vital skill/habit for young people in the life they will lead once their diploma has been framed and put in a place on honor on the wall.Toward the end of the school day yesterday, I happened upon the last few minutes of the St. George’s Chorus practicing a beautiful and demanding piece of music–a complex arrangement of a spiritual. When they saw me hovering outside the door listening, they invited me in and sang it for me from the beginning. THEY WERE REALLY, REALLY GOOD. They were also joyous, powerful, and singing in that amazing space where each played a part in making something greater than the sum of its parts. Through the lens of the performing arts, it was a perfect way to see what deep engagement can create. I love these moments whether they occur in a music class or during a robotics design challenge or when two first graders lose all sense of time every time they get access to a shoebox full of legos. It is when school is at its best..and I want more of it.The following link will take you to the Power Point slides from my presentation yesterday: April 5 Parents Association PresentationAdditionally, I plan to post relevant relevant links to articles in the comments section to this entry. Feel free to add your own through the same means.