It all sounds so simple — if kids would just pay attention, everything would be fine, right? Wrong. Ultimately, we want more than attention — we want engagement if we are to educate the whole child.

Achieving student engagement is the sum total of other forms of engagement including:

Intellectual engagement: Teachers create lessons, assignments, or projects that appeal to student interests or that stimulate their curiosity.

Emotional engagement: Teachers use a wide variety of strategies to promote positive emotions in students that will facilitate the learning process, minimize negative behaviors, or keep students from tuning out.

Behavioral engagement: Teachers may establish classroom routines, use consistent cues, or assign students roles that foster behaviors more conducive to learning.

Physical engagement: Teachers may use physical activities or routines to stimulate learning or interest.

Social engagement: Teachers use a variety of strategies to stimulate engagement through social interactions.

Cultural engagement: Schools may take active steps to make students from diverse cultural backgrounds — particularly recently-arrived immigrant or refugee students and their families — feel welcomed, accepted, safe and valued.

Engagement requires specific conditions be in place in the classroom before any lesson is delivered. Any given classroom reflects the individuals in it and, therefore, a wide range of interests and abilities. Find a classroom with choice and you’ll likely find student engagement.