Teachers Responsibility to Engage their Students and Create Contexts Conducive to Learning
I found the concepts outlined in Jennifer Fredrick’s “Engagement in School sand Out-of-School Contexts: A Multidimensional View of Engagement” to correlate directly with my beliefs regarding class structure and teacher relations with their students. This paper will use a couple of examples that Frederick outlines for her readers on how teachers should convey their material and how teacher-student relationships should be carried out and will also explain how her examples correlate with my beliefs. Specifically, this paper will focus on her concepts of how students engagement is based on the level of challenge demanded by the material being taught and how student engagement revolves around the relationships each student has with his teacher.
I believe that all educational material, whether being preconceived as being dull or irrelevant, can be molded so that all students find it engaging and interesting. One common complaint I hear from people when I tell them that I study history is that they find it incredibly boring and that there is no purpose in studying it because it bears little significance to contemporary life. How many examples can one come up with of how history forgotten tends to repeat itself? It is important to study history because it teaches people to think analytically and allows them the chance to avoid the pitfalls of previous erroneous ways. How many times has a nation been swindled by a politician who claims that his interests are there interests? How many more times will situations like this occur? By studying history, we can avoid repeating these mistakes! Besides being completely incorrect, I find statements like those important because they speak to a larger issue, that learning history can be boring depending on how it is presented by the teacher. Listening to a teacher or professor lecture for an entire class period on a historical event should be reserved for those who have the patience and eagerness to learn about history and has no place in a classroom where some students may not find the subject interesting enough to listen to a ten minute lecture, let alone a forty-five minute lecture! Frederick writes, “Student engagement is higher in classrooms where students perceive instruction as challenging and when they are in cooperative groups, as opposed to large group discussions” (Fredrick 329). Students, especially in history, have to be given enough knowledge to be able to converse about the event and have to be given enough freedom so that they can create personal theories as to why an event had to occur the way it did. After, the class can gather as whole and hold a debate where each student can propose his theory and have it challenged or supported by his peers.
Along with creating a lesson that is engaging and interesting to all students, it is also the duty of teachers to create a context in their classrooms where students will feel comfortable to converse and share their ideas. It is almost as if teachers have to act as second parents, parenting all their students to achieve collaborative learning contexts in the classroom. Fredrick writes:
As outlined earlier, teachers and program staff can increase engagement: (a) by showing students that they care about them; (b) by creating positive social environment where peers have opportunities to work together and learn from each other; (c) by having clear expectations, rules, and routines to maximize time on task; and (d) by including a variety of interesting tasks that emphasize higher-order skills and real-world application (Fredrick 333).
From the three readings that we were required to write about, Fredrick’s reading, along with the above quote, is the one that will stick with me the most. When I envision myself as a future teacher, I envision myself as a fair and honest teacher, one who makes his students feel comfortable with him. I envision myself as engaging and intense in my conveyance of material, as well as fun and creative. Lastly, I envision myself as a disciplinarian who will make it very clear to his students that they are in my classroom to learn and that if they place little value in their education, they will inevitably be directing themselves on a path of struggles and hardship.