How can educator engagement be measured?

I’ve been spending the past few days thinking about Thursday’s #mschat on educator engagement. I was truly stunned by the participation. It feels like #mschat is starting to enter a ‘next level’ of chats on Twitter. More participants, more lurkers, more more more. The insights and contributions from around the country (and world) has been growing steadily over the past few months and as a result I have come to value the connections, new PLNs, and discourse that only connected educators can create.

The topic of educator engagement was one of the most difficult one for me personally to talk about. Moderator @blocht574 sent out an article to read pre-chat (which as a side note I thought was a great idea and maybe he could do that again this week but a day before the chat). My first tweet exemplified my difficulty coming up with a good opening response:

@GeoSpiegs

“through student engagement? Parent feedback? Can we define what engagement means first?”

I wasn’t the only one, either:

@smartins3313

“My first question to this question is doesn’t engagement mean something different to diff Ts?”

….but how would we measure it? If you look at your staff HOW can you tell if engaged?”

To which I agree. Engagement looks different depending on the individual teacher and the dynamic that occurs within their classroom. What works for one teacher may have the opposite effect for another.  I had a really hard time with the question. I still don’t feel like I ever got my head around what measuring teacher engagement looks like.

I was hoping the chat was going to spend a minute or two at the get-go to establish some parameters to what we meant by teacher engagement. In hindsight I would have appreciated that because it seemed that there was confusion between measurement and descriptions of what engagement looks like.

@rdavisteaches

“How teachers interact with each other. What teachers discuss in meetings.”

@nyrangerfan42

“how their students approach the classroom – are they excited?”

There are a few definitions that I can think of that fall under the teacher engagement banner. The first one to come to mind is the definition of a teacher who truly enjoys his/her job. A teacher who views teaching as a vocation, a craft, something more than a ‘job’.

@kemnitzer3

“Educator engagement can be seen, heard, and felt. You can see their passion! They engage the minds of their students.” 

Is that even measurable? While I completely agree with the sentiment, I find it almost impossible to accurately measure that from an administrators perspective. Since I’m NOT an administrator, I defer to their expertise on this…

A second definition would be how engaged is a teacher with his/her students? Does s/he create an atmosphere where students look forward to coming to class each and every day?

@nyrangerfan42

“measure: Where is the teacher in the room? circulating? what is he doing in meetings? texting? does he know his Ss interests?”

@blocht574

“HOW teachers engage and interact with their students!”

A great idea but the question was about ‘measurement’. I wanted to see a concrete example of what measurement criteria or tool we might use. @nyrangerfan42 defined criteria such as circulating and input at faculty meetings which I think would be helpful to getting some agreement on teacher engagement.

@mjanatovich

“We can measure how engaged an educator is by how engaged their students are in the classroom”.

This might be true for some teachers but looking at whether a student is engaged or not might just be a result of a teacher who is entertaining and not necessarily ‘good’.

Student input is imperative for a good teacher to be able to reflect on their craft and improve. In my classroom, I would put a Google Form questionnaire at the end of each activity or project that we would do. One of the questions would ask the student to rate/rank their experience.

How easy was it for you to stay focused and engaged? 1-5

..and a follow up question for the students to describe why they rated their experience the way they did.

Please provide an example or explanation why you scored the previous question the way you did..

Finally teacher engagement can mean how engaged in the school culture is the teacher? How active are they in faculty meetings, after school clubs, etc…? To me this basically means:

How much extra time do they put in above and beyond their contract?

@blocht574

“HOW teachers spend their “duty free time” in school”

@ed_group

“By what they produce. ie. Coaching, after school clubs for no stipends, increasing student achievement, etc.”

@JamieArmin

“Ts engaging with Ss…walking, talking, advising clubs/activities, etc Engaging here on Twitter & applying learning to classroom”

Is it right for administrators to look at that contribution? Should there be limits on how much a teacher puts in? Should teacher engagement be measured in this way? I’m inclined to think not, well, in cases of establishing what constitute a ‘good’ teacher. There are too many outside obligations that some teachers have that precludes their involvement in afterschool activities. Any parent out there can understand a teacher who want to go home at the end of their day and spend time with their own children.

At the end of my reflection I found two participants caught my attention. They seemed to go beyond a definition and struck at the heart of the question:

@adrembert

“By the quality, significance, depth, and creativity of their lessons. Gotta work behind the scenes.”

and @MrsMele1

“By how their classroom/lessons evolve year after year. Continuous growth shows they are engaged.”

This strikes at the core of teacher engagement for me. Administrators are now asking more and more teachers to be reflective of their craft. By looking at the quality, significance, depth, and creativity of a teacher’s lesson, and the manner in which a teacher reflects on those points, might be a way to garner or shed some light on a teacher’s engagement to their craft.

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