New Year, New Goals!

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Jan. 11, 2019, 2 p.m.

What is Your Goal?

In 2019, I'm all about being intentional in my instruction. Since we never have enough time, my goal is to only spend time on what is most likely going to move readers, writers, and mathematicians forward. I am going to audit every minute of class time to make sure we don't spend time on things that aren't likely to make much difference. Unfortunately, basals and textbooks are full of this kind of fluff.

Achieving the purpose goal starts with having learners set goals based on clear learning targets. Start by asking three key questions:

  1. What will my learners to need to learn? 
  2. How will I know they have learned? 
  3. What strategies, activities, and assignments will help my students hit the target? 

Sounds simple enough, but the real work comes in the planning. Once you identify the learning objectives you must turn them into learning targets your students understand.

One habit of highly effective teachers is to have students use a learning target to set their own daily learning goals. Here are three questions to get students focused on the learning:

  1. What is your goal today? 
  2. What strategies will YOU use to reach your goal?
  3. What do you need me (the teacher) to do to help you reach your goal?

Before students begin activities or assignments, ask them how the work will help them achieve their learning goal? At the end of class and the end of the week, ask students to reflect on their learning. John Dewey (1933) defined reflective thinking as "making a judgement about what has happened." According to Dewey, "We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.” In order to take ownership of our learning, we must keep thinking about what we've added to our background knowledge and skill sets. This creates intrinsic motivation to keep learning.

So while we stop at this time of year to reset and determine goals for the year, we really need to do this reset daily. Purpose and focus drives use to achieve great things. In 2019, let's create daily habits of purposefulness that will change the world, one learner at a time.

Make a Plan, Work the Plan!

I love the saying "Make a plan and work the plan!" It's important to not only set goals but, make a plan to see those goals come to fruition. This is where executive skills come in. Just like the CEO or major executive of a company sets goals and puts detailed plans in place to achieve them, we as educators need to model the same goal setting and planning, and expect the same from our students. After all, we are raising up the next generation of CEO's.

Executive skills are the thinking processes needed to see the goal through: planning, organizing, social understanding, switching and shifting, cognitive flexibility, working memory, monitoring, and inhibition. Using these skills, students (and teachers) make choices like which route would be the best for achieving their goal.

How is it Going?

Following those goals and plans up with a "How is it going?" each week is crucial. Tracking your progress towards big goals is not only motivational, but also allows us be reflective and see where we need to adjust or improve. This is also a great time to give and receive feedback from others. Getting others' perspectives on how to achieve goals enlightens the path to success. It's also great to have accountability partners. This tends to make us more committed to seeing something through to the end.

Here is a great tool to use with your students this new year. It's called 2 wishes 2 Stars. This is a tool that can be used for students to start setting goals and making a plan to achieve those goals.

Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

About The Authors

Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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