Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Engaged!



After teaching for more than fifteen years, and becoming facebook friends with a number of present and former students, my feed is starting to fill with a lot of diamond ring pictures.  The excitement of a new phase in a relationship,the planning of the event to end all events, and a happily ever after sets the most romantic of us abuzz as we watch these young people find their place in the world.


Add to that the number of friends I have who are professional or amateur photographers capturing gorgeous pictures of spectacular days, and it's easy to become a creepy stalker as I watch the stories unfold.  I try to limit the number of pictures I "LIKE" on facebook, fearing that my former students will wonder what I do with my spare time, and why I seemingly care so much about them and their successes.



Why do I care?  or, more importantly, Why don't THEY care?


Of course I'm speaking metaphorically here -- especially on the heels of yesterday's post about the motivational properties of chicken bowl.  But the situation is similar; students today are more excited to tweet, instagram, or facebook accomplishments as mundane as they lunch they are eating or the shoes they are wearing than they are about what they are actually doing to better themselves.  And while social media has made this so much more prevalent in the twenty-first century, the actual history of this sort of lack of enthusiasm predates even the internet.  (GASP!)

"What happened in school today?" was often the question asked at the dinner table when I was a child.  I know that I am not alone in this ritual, as similar scenarios are played out in sitcoms from the 60s and 70s, and I've even seen a rerun on MeTV of The Beaver skirting the question from his father and mother.

Perhaps the problem is the way we are planning and instructing our students.  AJ Juliani posted a very thought-provoking blog entry yesterday entitled This is not a Lesson Plan.  I've spent some time reflecting on this, and find a distinct connection between student engagement/excitement levels and  what they are willing to talk about, or tweet about, etc. with others.  Often, as AJ suggests, they are excited about the technology or the activity, but are they really learning and retaining the information? I am now asking myself whether my lesson plans are truly Learning Plans, and if they aren't why aren't they?

Reflection on learning and lessons and student engagement is now my new obsession.  I'm standing on the tip of an iceberg, trying to examine what stands beneath my feet, without cracking my head as I slide off into the great abyss that is the psychology of education and engagement, before the ceremony called graduation becomes the next tweet.