Levels of PROFESSIONAL Learner Engagement

The Levels of Professional Learner Engagement

Presenter: What brought you to this professional development session?
Attendee #1: I needed contact hours for my IPDP.
Attendee #2: This is something that I wanted to learn more about.
Attendee #3: My administrator said I had to come here.
Attendee #4: I want to be a better educator.
Attendee #5: I needed the credit hours.
Attendee #6: There were no other sessions that I was interested in and I had to choose something.

I was thinking about PD for educators recently and realized . . . we’re just like our students.  We have varying levels of interest and, therefore, varying levels of motivation.  It reminded me of Schlechty’s 5 Levels of Student Engagement.  And then it hit me . . . these are also the 5 Levels of PROFESSIONAL Learner Engagement.

  • Authentic Engagement—the educator is engaged and sees the PD as valuable, applicable and exciting.  They want to learn this.  They can’t wait to apply it in their classroom.
  • Strategic Compliance—the educator needs credits or contact hours in order to receive a benefit, likely in the form of a step up on the pay scale or recognition from their peers or administrators for taking the initiative to participate.
  • Ritual Compliance—the educator needs credits or contact hours in order to keep their license and/or job.
  • Retreatism—the educator attends the meeting, but does not pay attention or engage in the content.
  • Rebellion—the educator checks their email (or performs another task without hiding it), refuses to participate and/or complains.

Now, it may seem like I’m bad-mouthing the educators, but I’m not.  I’ve probably been at each of those levels at least once myself.  We all probably have.  So, what does that mean?  It means that I’m bad-mouthing the PD.  Who can blame them for not being “authentically engaged” in the professional development?  Authentic engagement is not a choice.  Either the activity engages them authentically or it does not.

So . . . what do we do?

We give these professionals a say in what they learn.  We give them time to explore the possibilities.  We give them an opportunity to investigate what may be useful for them.  We give them Dan Pink’s 3 factors of motivation: autonomy, mastery & purpose.

Why?

Because it’s what’s best for the kids.  And that’s all that matters.

 

Learn more about the work of the late Phil Schlecthy at schlechtycenter.org.
Learn more about Daniel Pink’s phenomenal book Drive and his other work at danpink.com.

Published by

Jake Miller

Jake is a Google for Education Certified Trainer and is the Lead Technology Integration Specialist for Brady Middle School in Ohio's Orange City Schools. In the past he taught STEM, Science & Math in Stow-Munroe Falls, Ohio, where he was also a leader in the district's Technology Leadership Team and a co-advisor for the middle school's STEM Club. He has been an educator since 2003. His Bachelor's Degree is in middle-level education (math/science) from the University of Akron and his Master's Degree is in Instructional Technology from Kent State University. He has enjoyed providing more than 100 professional development opportunities at conferences and school districts across the state of Ohio. He is very involved in Twitter (@JakeMillerTech) and provides regular pointers for educators with his #GAFETip tweets.