I am exaggerating a bit. I heard about a lot more than engagement. But it is definitely a priority not only that students and families get involved with what is going on, but that they invest their hearts in it as well. It is not enough just to "do the work." The goal is to make connections, to form bonds, to establish a real caring for the processes, the activities, and the people.
As I have heard the word over and over, I have been wondering why it seems so new to me. I have been part of many workplaces and organizations before--should this really be so different? As I look back on the places I've been, though, I recall a lot of working hard, and being a team player (or a star), and getting the job done. But did anyone ever really know or care whether my coworkers or I were engaged? If we did what needed to be done, was that really all that mattered?
I would venture to say that "engagement" is more of a talking point in professions and workplaces other than mine, and having heard so much about it these last few days, I am glad about that. It is one thing to work hard, but if you are truly engaged, don't you work better? It is one thing to be able to get along with your coworkers, but if you are truly engaged with their goals and interests, don't you make their time, and your own, more productive and satisfying?
A field or a workplace doesn't change overnight, but I am encouraged to see that the workers of the future (and we, their parents) are being taught that engagement, not just hard work, matters. The rules of engagement are changing, and I think I like this new game.