Bring Learning to Life to Reduce Student Disengagement

We need to give ourselves and our students more time to explore and think if we want to bring learning to life.

As teachers we have the unique privilege to lead our classrooms. We have the ability, autonomy and choice to influence and help shape opportunities for greater amounts of exploration and thinking to occur.

Especially when it comes to mathematics and numeracy teaching and learning.

As educational and school leaders, it’s important to pause and remember, we have the privilege to shape the conditions that best support our teachers to make the greatest impact on students possible.

And right now, we all know a change in the conditions, opportunities and structures that can allow this to happen is afoot across education. We can feel it.

(Well, to be honest, I could feel it back when I was in the majority of my classrooms as a student; wanting to know why we were studying something, wishing to know the connections and see it in real life, but never getting that opportunity. Though, I became a master at excuses and ways to escape classes.)

The change ahead of us to engage and bring learning to life

Between the quietly disengaged students making up a quarter of our class and those who are openly disengaged, our students are giving us some pretty clear feedback: we need to bring learning to life. 

To do so means it needs to have purpose, meaning and clearly connect what is being learned to previous and upcoming learning, and real world applications.

In high schools this means it needs to be about more than the next CAT, SAC or Year 12 exam. In primary schools, it is more than preparing them for high school or moving them into the next year level.

Yes, the curriculum is overcrowded. Especially with some ways we choose to look at it now. When we see every area, subject and discipline separately, made up of seemingly disconnected descriptors and standards, it’s enough to close up your laptop and take an infinite amount of long service leave.

But, the opportunity in front of all of us willing to embrace this change is to start making the connections. To flip this daunting curriculum on its head and make it do the work for us.

But, how could we bring learning to life?

Great question.

Initially, it could begin by choosing to make three decisions:

  1. Every single descriptor and elaboration within the curriculum cannot be covered. Prioritise, map and assess the gaps.
  2. Tap into the curriculum experts within your teams (those with and without the title “Curriculum Leader”) to help discover the authentic connections within and across the curriculum.
  3. Teachers’ creativity, passion and interests in learning areas must be brought together. Create a collaborative curriculum team who will help bring these connections to life in planning and classrooms.

We know the high impact purposeful and meaningful learning and teaching strategies can have on students (and teachers!).

However, I can’t help but wonder, what could the impact truly be if we engage the creativity, interests and knowledge of those staff and students around us.


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3 Replies to “Bring Learning to Life to Reduce Student Disengagement”

  1. Welcome back Dan. Missed reading, and reflecting on, your insights and most importantly, your passion.

    1. It’s good to be back, and thanks for the kind words…made the beginning of the long weekend even better!!

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