by Suzy Brooks, Director of Instructional Technology for Mashpee Public Schools, MA:
Inevitably, the New Year brings about thoughts of reflection, resolutions, and resolve for many of us. I like that January 1st falls roughly in the middle of the school year. It gives us all a chance to think about the progress we have made and where we are headed before the school year ends. Since many New Year’s resolutions are dreamt up on January 1st and then long forgotten come February, my students and I start planning our goals early and have frequent check-ins after the New Year is far behind us. By breaking bigger goals into smaller, more manageable chunks, students start to learn the value in goal setting and to see how the seemingly impossible can become possible with focus and positive energy.
Before students head off on vacation, I give them the challenge of coming up with two different goals -- one personal goal (sports, self-improvement, health, volunteering, music performance, art, and so on) and one “professional” goal related to their "job" as a student (math, reading, writing, behavior, and so on). They spend their school vacation thinking about their choices and talking through their options with family members. For fun, I allow them to make some 2017 predictions (a tradition in our family) while they are at it.
After students return from vacation, we get right to work! Since the idea of goal setting (and, more importantly, the follow-through) is pretty abstract for kids, we explore the idea of SMART goals. I share my own goals for the New Year and model how "SMART" they are. Students learn what makes a goal "SMARTer" and start to develop their own goals to fit this checklist:
Finally, we spend that first week back at school chunking personal and professional goals into manageable bites. Students break down their goals into monthly, weekly and daily tasks, and milestones. We want kids to know that purposeful choices can lead them closer and closer to a goal. Each week, we set aside 15 minutes to pull out our goals, to monitor our progress, and to adjust our trajectory if necessary. These forms help us to stay on target:
Goal setting with kids takes a lot of planning, scaffolding, and monitoring. They will begin to learn that their reality is defined by the decisions they make regarding action and inaction. It is our responsibility as teachers to help them realize the power they have to make a difference in their own lives, as well as in the lives of others.
What do you have planned for 2017?
After 10 years as an elementary teacher, Suzy Brooks is now the director of instructional technology for Mashpee Public Schools in Massachusetts. Her work in blended learning, student engagement, and social media was featured in EdWeek, NBC News’ Education Nation, Instructor Magazine, Intel, ASCD, and the National Education Association. Currently, she is the president-elect for the Massachusetts affiliate of ASCD. Connect with her on Twitter or at www.TechnicallyInvisible.com.
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