How do reluctant readers learn? Is engagement a prerequisite for learning? These were some of the questions I sought to answer when I completed my doctoral thesis, and they continue to be central to my curiosity regarding the best ways to teach and to learn.
I became a teacher because I was seeking meaning and fulfillment. For my bachelor’s degree, I concentrated on English and technical communication; teaching English was almost a natural transition. I taught English or Reading for the next 16 years.
Teaching was an engaging pursuit, but I fretted about my effectiveness. Were students learning? Did I use the best strategies to enable their grasp of new concepts? I set out to learn for myself: Masters in Education, where the concentration of courses was on strategies for teaching diverse students (the ones who have barriers to their learning). Then, Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), where the concentration was on instructional technology and distance education. In the end, I learned. Learning new concepts and strategies gave some answers but also raised new questions.
What are the best ways to learn? How do you make learning stick? Yes, I have concluded that engagement is key—both teacher and student need to be engaged. But, how is engagement achieved? And, how is it sustained?