Having your students set small obtainable goals will help them focus, feel accomplished, and be successful in the classroom. We’ve all needed those small successes; we just need to remember how it made us feel when we reached those pinnacles!
This Labor Day weekend my husband persuaded me to leave the schoolbooks, grading, and lesson planning at home for cooler weather and a little quiet time in the woods. When you start the first week of school in August in Arizona, then you are bound to look for some relief come Labor Day. I know some of you may think this is totally crazy, but 110 degrees for days on end, tends to wear on even the most rested teacher.
I came to some realizations as I was sitting in the cool weather and biking up a very steep mountain. First, everybody needs a break…even students! When they’re having a bad day, give them choice activities. You can still meet your academic or educational goal, by giving them a different avenue. Computers can be used, iPods, games, silent reading or writing time, even library or buddy time. The choices are endless, just make sure it doesn’t interfere with the rest of your instruction, you can accomplish this by discussing expectations with the student. In the end, you’ll be happy, they’ll think you’re the bomb, and instruction will carry on!
Second, as I was riding up an eight mile incline with my hubby, I played a mind game so that I could make it to each spot, first the tree, then the shaded spot, next a drink of water…before I knew it, we were at the top. The ride down was a different story, bumps in the trail which had to be navigated on foot, and holding on for dear life to my bike so it wouldn’t go down without me. Those small goals got me there, to the top, feeling accomplished.
Setting goals with your students can have the same effect; a sense of accomplishment that will give them the energy and self-confidence to try harder and feel good about what they are learning. Start the year with a goal setting activity to give them direction. What are your goals for the year? What do you want to accomplish? How will you accomplish this? How can I help you? Next, if you’re looking at short-term goals, a weekly ticket in/ticket out…what did you learn today and how will you improve tomorrow? What was the most important thing you learned this week? What do you want to improve on next week? Name three things you accomplished this week?