I find many students have learned this behavior of just existing. I observe students walking in, having the correct materials, and sitting down. This is all a good start. However, many students stop there. I deplore this culture in our school; yet, I have a feeling it's pretty widespread.
The previous post about attendance vs. engagement definitely addresses this. It's a paradigm shift. Our students are supposed to strive for excellence, yet this culture of existence doesn't demonstrate a pursuit of excellence.
In this culture, wouldn't it be great for a teacher to have a daily assistant? The assistant (every class period) would make all of the anecdotal notes about student engagement, questioning, participation, etc. Couldn't we truly be professionals then? That's a pie in the sky idea, but when we are referred to as professionals, we should have all the tools and resources available to professionals in other fields. A tangent... I know.
Without the help of an assistant to keep accurate and interesting records, my mind goes back to a culture of excellence and learning. It has to be pervasive in a building- almost contagious. Kids are here to learn, not just to be. Kids are here to question, strive, seek, find, etc. Excellence begets excellence. Attendance vs. engagement wouldn't be an issue if our culture shifted.