Challenging lessons result in student engagement and productive, effective learning. Quality teachers are able to assess the level of engagement in their classroom and respond accordingly to the levels of differentiation, suitability of task, level of student voice and pace of the lesson.
Student engagement requires a teacher to be aware of the obvious signs of disengagement: heads resting in hands, or students slumped over, looking bored, as well as the covert signs which are usually masked by students appearing to be on task but not actually engaging with their learning. When lessons offer low challenge, students may be ‘working’ industriously but they may not necessarily be thinking at a very high level.
Flow, a concept proposed by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, is the optimum working level in which the challenge levels are continually advancing the skill levels. Flow has been described as that feeling of complete immersion in an activity, where students are so engaged that their sense of time, self-consciousness and self-doubt seem to disappear.