4. How can we improve the engagement, and general motivation for learning of our High School students?

Social and Emotional learning/teaching methods in the HS Curriculum.


According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report (World Economic Forum, 2016), emotional intelligence will be one of the top 10 job skills in 2020.  Today’s school must enhance student social emotional competence, character, health and civic engagement (Greeneberg et al.., 2003 p.466)
My focus for this research was from my own experience as a demotivated student in a high school environment where I did not thrive and it was not until I moved to a 6th form college that I found my voice and passion for my own learning. Consequently this was the motivating factor for my own teaching career as I did not want my future students to have this same experience and how I as a teacher could make a difference to their learning.
My aim was to implement new methods of teaching to support students with more challenging issues that they are facing in contemporary society, in order to enhance my student’s engagement with their learning and overall motivation.   I wanted my research and data collection to be primarily based on the voice of our students and what makes an effective classroom or learning environment for them, also taking into account factors outside of the classroom and within our school community.
My data was based on student questionnaires from Grade 7-11 and from my own observations in working with students in smaller group discussions.    The intention is for students to learn the skills to become more independent and critical learners and more importantly develop a passion for their own learning.
What I found surprisingly from my research is that more traditional methods are favoured with students, with less reliance on technology, a more creative approach to learning, utilising more the resources outside of the classroom.
My findings further led me to focus on teacher motivation as an essential factor to promote positive development and reduce problem behaviours, as Parker Palmer highlights in ‘The Courage to Teach, ‘we teach who we are, good teaching requires self-knowledge’  this is essential to improve student achievement and participation.  A teacher who knows him/herself and their student is an essential element to a motivated classroom. (Palmer, Parker)

KEYWORDS: motivation; attendance; engagement; independent learners, social emotional competence, overcoming managing, addressing

RESEARCHER: Catherine McPhilemy; c.mcphilemy@isfitaly.org