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Creative learner engagement

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

When you hear the word engagement, what do you think of? Engagement is often associated with participating, liking an activity, or following directions. Have you noticed that all these definitions are dichotomous? Either the learner participates, likes the activity, follows directions or they don’t. What if engagement was an evolving, co-created process that exists on a spectrum?

Engagement on a spectrum

Through my master’s research, engagement arose as key to supporting marginalized learners. For this reason, the REiL model includes engagement as one of the central building blocks to facilitating meaningful learning. To view the REiL model, visit REiL stands for Rapport, Engagement, imagination & creativity, and Learners. REiL is a play on words for what is “real” - infusing imagination and creativity into the experience of learning.

I define engagement as a flexible, co-created process in which learners’ ideas are incorporated, and opportunities to lead exist. When I’m facilitating a session, some staff begin to twitch, and imagine I’m suggesting that learners lead all activities. I think this fear may relate to loss of control, and school systems continued overreliance on authoritarian ways of teaching and learning. In a system where teachers are expected to manage and maintain control, how do we step into offering learners voice and agency? Greater learner voice leads to greater agency, which fuels the engagement cycle.

To discuss your next creative learner engagement session, e-mail Katy at


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