At this point of things I was (apparently) thinking of “engaging” as a stable property of a problem. In practice, that meant that I spent a lot of time searching for and trying to create great problems.
These days I don’t think of “engaging” as a stable property. The degree to which a problem is engaging depends on everything else — the preceding lesson, whether I launch a problem in a way that draws connections to things that kids already know, if I have hints/feedback ready in advance of the lesson for some common issues, if I selected a task that has a clear goal and that relates to math that my students are working on. This means that I spend more time worrying about what my kids know and what math my students might learn from an activity than I used to.
How did this development happen? I’m wondering whether my twitter archives might have part of the answer.