Teach to Reach: Creating Conditions for Student Motivation and Engagement

For students to achieve academically, they must be cognitively engaged. Unfortunately, since the beginning of the pandemic, schools across Illinois are reporting low student engagement.

To engage students, we must look beyond compliance and task-oriented performances. We must understand that preceding engagement is motivation. Student motivation is borne of innate curiosity to investigate the world. While the traditional classroom creates opportunities to satisfy this curiosity, since home learning, we’ve seen students question the value of school itself. Teachers and administrators used to be the managers of how students spent their time. Home learning stripped away that control, giving students the ability to decide how, when, and if they engage with their education.

To reverse the troubling trends of instruction to checked-out students, we offer a look at four pillars based on learning science that schools should consider when designing learning environments in order to remove obstacles to student motivation.

We’ll review this framework through the lens of how anti-bias and anti-racist curriculum (ABAR) intersects with Social Emotional Learning (SEL). This intersectionality creates a safe, caring, and respectful environment that allows educators and students to navigate complex historical and current topics with supportive frameworks and healthy discourse to engage students’ voices and inspire action. 

We’ll hear from Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, a renowned expert on the implications for the design of learning at the curriculum, unit, and lesson level, and from Dr. Comfort Akwaji-Anderson, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, on how these principles are exemplified in her school’s academic and communal practices.

The session will utilize Newsela’s ABAR and SEL Curriculum Collections to provide data, examples, however, the framework discussed is applicable to all learning platforms and materials.

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand how to think about identifying and prioritizing choices in curriculum and instruction to build engagement within students by removing obstacles to motivation.
  2. Understand how motivation and self-regulated learning intersect with culturally relevant pedagogy and differentiated instruction.
January 14 @ 14:00
2:00 pm — 2:50 pm (50′)

Dan Cogan-Drew, Dr. Comfort Akwaji-Anderson, Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs