In accordance with our developing document outlining good teaching practices, I have begun the year by asking students to write goals for themselves. I know that the idea of goal setting can make people cringe because we are used to hearing students create goals that are totally unmeasurable or out of their control. (“The teacher will like me,” or “I will earn an ‘A’.”) I wanted to change that for my students; I wanted them to be able to create goals for themselves that are manageable and measurable. Why shouldn’t students be able to learn this like they learn anything else in school?
I am intent on making goal setting work for my students because I have seen how valuable it can be for people. It aligns one’s efforts with one’s intentions and suddenly “things” start happening. I’m also doing this as a result of operating under the belief that if students learn how to set and work toward goals for themselves, they can live and learn more deliberately. While I describe this process to my students as “giving them more control in their lives,” really what I am working to do is empower my students to build the person they want to become.
As I told the parents at Back-to-School Night, helping my students make more deliberate choices means that they are really learning the foundational tool that will eventually create change in the world. We can’t hope that change happens; “hope is for wimps.” We need to intend to have things change and then act in a way that aligns our efforts with that intention.
That being said, I told all of my students that my personal goal for the year as a teacher is that…
I intend to focus on my experiences and opportunities beyond the school walls to make me a better person for when I am within the school walls.
I also told my students that one of my goals for them this year is that…
I intend to provide opportunities for my students to use who they are outside of our English classroom walls as a way to influence their growth as students of English within our classroom walls.
After taking my students through the goal setting activity, I have my sophomore A-level students creating a page per goal on their blogs. I intend to do the same for my two goals listed here. (And perhaps I will even throw in a non-school goal just for fun, like I have asked them to do.) It would be really great if I can publicly mark my work and mark my progress toward my goal and have students make suggestions and provide feedback about how I am doing.