A New School Year Boost–Engaging Teaching

August 24, 2016

Teacher Support

Teachers at the International School of Kuala Lumpur experiencing “Be the Concept” as they act out “support”!

Last November, I led day workshop for the Greater Cincinnati Service Learning Network. We had about 140 attendees, from kindergarten to higher ed, and the day was lively and productive. With a variety of engaging experiences to build the skills for leading service learning with students, I also modeled “engaging teaching strategies” throughout. And I made them explicit. We discussed what I was doing, and why. Plus, I included an article in their handouts; Engaging Teaching (download here! – note that a link to a second version is below).

A few weeks later, high school teacher Suzette Glaab, from Bishop Brossart High School in Alexandria Kentucky, sent me two emails, and then another just recently. With her permission I am sharing what happened following the session last November (2015).  

“I just wanted to thank you for an excellent day yesterday.  I’ve been worn out and uninspired and came away with so much more energy for doing this job that I love – no, this vocation that I’ve been called to.

“I asked permission to talk at our faculty meeting yesterday about a few of the items I learned at your conference and already this morning I have had three conversations with faculty members about how they have used or are going to use those ideas in their classroom.

“First, the biology teacher is going to use “each one teach one” to help with reviewing material because the students did poorly on their last quiz.


An ISKL student doodle during our Youth Leadership Workshop

“Secondly, the counselor was in a class and had time at the end for questions….no one had any, so she tried the One Minute Think Tank pairs — think of questions in a minute with a partner — and she said there were so many questions they had a great discussion for fifteen minutes.

“Third, an English teacher said she was going to come up with topics for something and decided to make it student driven. She also had a little extra time today and I had mentioned that I would appreciate all the teachers trying to incorporate hunger into their subject sometime in the next two weeks. We did brainstorming at the faculty meeting of ways to do that because I want to change how we and the students think about our Thanksgiving collection. So she used her extra time today to incorporate the topic of hunger in English class.

“I have already incorporated two techniques into my teaching TODAY and plan to use so much more. Today, I had students journaling, and it was very “under-directed.” I also had them share with each other for a minute or two, which I thought that might lead to some larger group sharing. So instead of having them stare at me and not want to share, I just asked the question, ‘Did anyone learn anything?’ leaving it wide open for any response.

“Also, in another class, we were doing a comparison (Passover with the Catholic Mass) and in the past I may have done it as a whole class activity; instead I had them get into small groups and come up with ideas and then we did it together. WOW! They had better ideas and connections than I would have ever come up with.

“And, actually, I used an additional strategy you modeled: I moved around the room to do my talking. Small difference, I know, but it did make a difference. [Note from CBK-Small, yet significant as the brains tracking shifts as students follow us to new places; offers a new perspective]

“I know that the conference was about service learning, but it also gave me some great classroom techniques, and, as I already said, did inspire me with new energy.

“Thank you so much for following your passion and helping me and other teachers to continue to do this work that is so hard but so rewarding!

“Now eight months later, I use your ideas all the time. In fact, two days ago, I used the “each one teach one” with the students to review some notes I had given. I had them pair up and ask questions and then every few seconds switching partners. I think it was a great way to review in about three minutes. They seemed to have a better grasp of the information.  I did it at the start, so that we began with a better foundation for the day.”

Do these dynamics matter? Absolutely, with benefits for students and teachers. And these can be woven in daily, to enliven learning and create a more inclusive classroom ethos. New ideas, collaboration, questioning, all lead to an environment of lively exchange, thinking, and learning.

Please read and share the article Engaging Teaching. Two versions are on my website – one published in New Zealand (Engaging Teaching Styles), and one published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Join a workshop, institute, or on-site consultation to see these ideas in action!

Have a wonderful beginning to a great school year!


Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A.

Follow me on Twitter @cbkaye or on Facebook, Linked In and Declara at Cathryn Berger Kaye

Ready to schedule a workshop, keynote or presentation for 2016-2018? Email Ask about our new Youth Leadership ProgramsMiddle School and High School Advisory Programs, and other customized programs and curricula for in-school and after-school programs. 

Cathryn and husband Dr. Barry L. Kaye will be presenting a conference on Brains and Learning in March near NYC– email for follow-up info!

Also November weekend institute in Kuala Lumpur on How to Run a Kickass Advisory Program. Ask me!

Where’s Cathryn? Check the Calendar!