It’s my ninth year teaching and I feel like I’ve come in every year feeling like I knew what I was doing. But this year, I feel like everything has really clicked. I think the difference has been what we’ve been doing here at Red Mill with the goal setting with our students. We’ve really tried to get the kids to take initiative of their own learning and to really know what they need to work on, but not only that, also knowing what they can do to get there. So it’s making sure that all these numbers and data that we’re looking at mean something to the kids too, and that they understand: I’m really good at this; I need to work on this. We talk with our kids and they realize: OK, I have this goal and here’s what I can do to work towards it.
We’ve done a lot in my class with setting quarterly goals and setting weekly goals. We’ve really been able to use the 1:1 technology to help us with that because the kids have been keeping track of their goals every week. They’ve been going in and they’ve done some type of reflection every week, they’ve been taking pictures of their goal tracker so they can constantly stay updated. Parents can go in and stay updated with what their child is doing. I just really feel like that’s made a big difference in my teaching and the way that I address things. So any time we introduce a new objective, I’m able to tie that in with how it’s going to help my students to reach their goals. It seems to be making all the difference.
What are examples of the goals that students set?
When we first started out, I really told them that anything you want to work on, you can choose. I want you to choose a goal that’s meaningful to you. They practiced pushups and free throws, things like that. One that really stands out to me, I had a student who said that her goal for the next week was to work on her drawing. When I looked at her reflection she said: I really worked hard on my drawing. I went home every night and tried these different types because I really wanted to get into art club. And I realized that she really understood the correlation between setting a goal, working toward it every night and then reflecting on how she did. And, she got into art club. I felt like that was a really great example of how a 9-year-old’s mind works and how it means something to them.
Now we’ve been able to relate it to school work. Students say: I need to work on my fluency, or summarizing is kind of a weakness for me, here’s what I can do to work toward it. I like that we’ve done both short-term and long-term goals. I think it’s been really helpful for the kids. Those who can’t see long-term yet are able to set those weekly goals: All I have to do is read 20 pages tonight, or whatever it might be. Then they can say: I did it or I didn’t do it. And they’re starting to see: When I do it, I get better and I improve; and when I don’t, I don’t improve. I think that, at this age, to have 9- and 10-year-olds that can do that is pretty amazing.