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Its an understatement to say, “Kill and Drill is dead,” and “Sage on the stage is sleeping.” After 18+ months of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all know that things cannot keep being the same. It is time to massively transform schools today.

For my entire career, I’ve been saying that we need to address the very core of education. In the last few months, I’ve come to understand what that core is: We need to stop measuring the success of public schools based on academic achievement. Instead, we need to focus on student engagement.

How Schools See Student Engagement

  1. Engagement is just for some students, not all
  2. Some students will be engaged, many won’t
  3. Students are the leaders of tomorrow
  4. Stereotypes are okay as long as they serve teachers
  5. Adults in schools know better than students
  6. Teachers do things for and to students
  7. Its best to segregate students by age
  8. At best, teachers should mentor students
  9. Students would go wild without adult control

Student engagement—which happens anytime learners choose the same things over and over—is the heart of learning, teaching, and leadership throughout the education system. It should be the whole goal, purpose, function, and outcome of all schooling everywhere, all the time. If learners aren’t choosing something we want them to, either consciously or unconsciously, then we’re failing them.

If learners aren’t choosing something we want them to, either consciously or unconsciously, then we’re failing them.

Academic achievement merely rates a students’ compliance with the directives, control, and management of educators. It does not measure the passion, desire, interests, or even abilities of learners. Student engagement positions all of those as the utmost important outcomes.

New Ways to See Student Engagements

  1. Students are influencers throughout their peers and communities
  2. Active engagement of every student is essential
  3. Students do no have monolithic engagement or voices
  4. Underrepresented and marginalized students need action now
  5. Student engagement is for all students
  6. Students are the leaders of today and aren’t waiting for tomorrow
  7. Teachers do things with students and engage students in doing things for themselves
  8. Engaging all learners of all ages in solving serious education problems is essential
  9. All adults throughout the education system should be mentored by students

For more than 20 years, I have worked to support K-12 schools, districts, and state education agencies taking powerful, positive strides towards transforming schools today with student engagement. I offer professional development, consultation, and several programs to move in that direction.

I’d love to hear what you think! Share your thoughts below or contact me right away.

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Adam F.C. Fletcher is available to consult, speak, and write.