by Dick Jones, Center Specialist, August 2019

The start of a new school year is an opportunity to build engagedhandson your teaching experiences, add new practices to become an engaging teacher. The school year begins with high hopes for a new group of students who are highly motivated and eager to take advantage of the learning opportunities you offer. Sometimes those hopes are fulfilled and other times hopes fade under the challenges students meeting your expectations. This beginning blog for the school year is a reminder of the importance of building relationships from day one. It offers suggestions for both new and experienced teachers on how to improve the craft of engaging students.

I am reminded of the US Army expression Be, Know, Do as a simple reminder getting things done thoughtfully. It’s essential to think about our current skills and “Be” or model the values we hold. Next, as professionals, we need to continue to expand what we Know by adding to our knowledge base as a continuous learner. Finally, it is not enough to Know, but to Do — take action and carry out our plans. Following are some suggestions to Be, Know, and Do related to student relationships and engaging classroom.


One of the teacher reflection surveys created by the CTE Technical Assistance Center is in a category called CAREER Instructional Model. Career is an acronym for the six elements of highly effective CTE instruction. One of those six elements is Engage Students as Independent Learners. There are five strategies which contribute to increasing student engagement. 

  • Build positive student relationships
  • Use routines and procedures to keep students on task
  • Use a variety of active learning strategies
  • Personalize learning to meet individual needs
  • Teach transferable information and study skills

This easy to use online survey allows you to think about your current practices around these five elements contributing to an engaged classroom. Take the quick survey to get a print out in which you can reflect on your instructional effectiveness in creating a highly engaged class.


Following are three informative articles which share teaching strategies for the engaging classroom. During CTE instruction, it is critical to give students feedback, both positive and negative. Students will best respond to that feedback when it comes from a teacher with whom they’ve built relationships. The first article is on how to remember student names, titled, “What Did You Call Me, How to Remember Students Names?

 The second is an excellent article with suggestions early on in school year, “32 Tips for Building Better Relationships with Students.”  

Finally, the article, “Appreciate, Apologize, Aha, describes and engaging exercise for building a positive learning community.  

You may find these articles provide some new ideas for you to use in your classroom and add to what you know as a teacher and building relationships. Don’t forget to look for opportunities to share engaging ideas with colleagues.


As you think about these ideas to reflect on your strategies for building an engaging classroom, take steps to make sure to remind yourself daily basis to include these into your instruction. You can use different ways as reminders. We all work with our mobile phones for communication, navigation, calendar and sources of information. Consider notifications via apps on your phone to reinforce your teacher habits. Take a look at some of the apps available to provide daily reminders such as or Momentum Habit Tracker.

Strive to build an engaging class by following these principles and practices. Reflect on who you are as a teacher, learn new ideas, and take action to improve. You will achieve that hope for a highly engaging teacher who builds the foundation for your students taking solid steps for success in their career field.

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