Student Engagement….Has it Changed over the Years?

Flickr photo by William Ferriter (CC BY 2.0)

As a young teacher right out of college, I knew I was going to change the world. I was an inner-city teacher and nothing was going to stop me–even if it meant closing my door sometimes to do what was right for my students. I remember one time having a conversation with my principal and telling her that I could use the textbooks (that were two plus reading levels above my students), or I could use trade books and other resources that I had that were written at their level. I assured her she wouldn’t regret it –confident on the outside but a bit nervous on the inside. After all these were second graders who for the most part didn’t know primer words. Innovative strategies were definitely what it was going to take to be successful. Technology wasn’t the same back then; however, student engagement was just as important then as it is today. That was and is the heart of a lesson. Without engaging our students we have nothing. Meeting these second graders where they were, making class fun for them, and being innovative in the process….that’s what it took to bring those students to where they needed to be.

Today we have so many tools at our fingertips. By collaborating and using these to the best of our ability, we can reach our students….every one of them. Sometimes it means throwing one thing out the window to try the next and figure our what it is that is going to engage them and get them to a place where they are excited by school and learning. Most importantly, though, at the center of our classrooms are the students..and whatever it takes to engage them.



  1. You illustrate precisely what it means to be a professional educator. Heavily prescriptive programs and regimens have diminished the expectations we place on teachers to engage individual students and infuse a true human element into learning.

  2. You are so correct Paul! At the heart of good teaching must be good teachers…not prescriptive programs. These teachers know how to effectively engage their students and meet their needs.

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