Saturday, July 18, 2015

GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLL!

Today is day 320 of consecutive blogging.  My "Blog for a Month" goal is so far behind me, that the only goal that now exists is surviving the next 45 days, to satisfactorily complete a full year.  I'm not usually obsessing about numbers, but it certainly seems to be ruling my life about now, as I, as the wonderful car song goes, "write one down, pass it around, forty-four blogs to post on the wall..."  (with apologies to whomever wrote the "Bottles of Beer on the Wall" song.  Oh, wait.  I have no desire to apologize for annoying THAT particular individual, given the number of times I've tried to eliminate the song from my head...)

Just last week, the U.S. Women's Soccer Team was celebrated with a ticker tape parade in New York City.  They set their sights on something very specific, and, pardon the pun, hit their goal, in grand style.  Goal-setting is something that we all do -- whether it be intentional or unintentional.   As kids, we skipped down the street, avoiding cracks, so as to preserve our mothers' backs, we've pushed ourselves as teachers to finish grading a stack of papers before leaving at the end of the day, or walked in circles around our kitchen islands at 11 pm, trying to make our Fitbits buzz, to satisfy an arbitrary step goal for the day.  As adults, we understand the importance of goals -- both as a means to chunk projects and as a means to celebrate success.  

Do we do the same for our students?

Honestly, most students wait for teachers to set the goals, defining expectations in rubrics provided with the assignments.  Some teachers go so far as to chunk the assignments -- even in advanced high school classes -- allowing a check in every few days or weeks to serve as a formative assessment grade to assure that everyone is on track.  While this is a great way for the teacher to manage the expectations for the class, it does little to teach strategies for success to the students.

What would happen if we encouraged students to define goals for themselves?  Okay, sure,  initially there would be reservations, tears, questions, and frustration.  And the kids might even be upset as well.  Yet allowing our students to set reasonable and attainable goals, and then meet the expectations within a timeline they establish will solidify growth mindsets, and give strength and life to a set of skills necessary in adulthood.

Teachhub.com has a great article entitled "How to Help Students Set and Reach Their Goals,"  which outlines some great strategies for teaching students to become self-motivated in setting goals, along with actual lesson plans. And the best part?  The suggested method includes a mandatory Reflection in the process.  

And anytime there's metacognition involved, I'm game for trying something at least once!