Do you start the new year by setting goals for yourself? Perhaps it is one word that will be the theme of your year or a set of professional and personal goals. Do you do this with your students as part of their reflection process?
For the first time in my teaching career, I didn’t do a goals activity specifically around the new year. Before this year I have always done a cute writing activity where students review the previous year and write about their goals for the new year the first week back after the break. So why not this year?
Our classroom community has gotten so used to setting goals and reflecting on our performance that it wasn’t even missed. The first day back from break students received their paper copy report card and their quarterly reflection and got to work. Then many asked when their student-led conference was. Oh how my heart wanted to sing, they have gotten so used to reflections and sharing they were eager to do so with all some of their key stakeholders. That’s when we discussed as a class how they can now lead their own conference at home with their parents. Am I not concerned with what they think? Of course, I read their reflections and discussed different points with students throughout the week. I will also use those reflections to help encourage students as the quarter goes on.
After a semester of regular reflection and goal setting, are they becoming more reflective or honest with their performance? Absolutely, some still need to give themselves a little more grace and others need to be a bit more specific but the trajectory of growth is there. After all isn’t that what we are looking for?
By the end of the new first week back from break my students had moved on to focusing on how they were doing learning and remembering old concepts from the previous semester. At the end of the week, the students were looking at their performance and growth over the week and evaluating any concepts they needed extra help or needed to fix some problems and redo an assignment. Focusing students on little chunks of learning at a time has helped so much for them to see the broader picture and see their growth.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do book says “Accomplished teachers gain knowledge about their students by studying them carefully and seeking additional information from various sources. They learn from experience by listening to students, watching them interact with peers, observing them work in different contexts, reading their thoughts and reflections, and otherwise examining their actions and behavior in the learning environment (page 14).” Goal setting and reflections are one of the easiest ways for me to gain insight into a students thoughts or personal reflections. How do your students set goals? Do you do this at the beginning of the new year, school year, or both? Share some of your best ideas with your peers below and if you are interested in reading further check out the attached resources.
Resources and Further Reading:
Can Goals Motivate Students? – Center on Education Policy
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. (2016). What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do. Retrieved from http://accomplishedteacher.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/NBPTS-What-Teachers-Should-Know-and-Be-Able-to-Do-.pdf
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