Thursday, July 2, 2015

Back to Basics: Setting Class Goals

Next year will be my eighth year in the classroom. WHAT. Teaching is still hard - every day is something new and I've never, never, never had a year that I did the exact same thing as the previous year. That's wild, right? It reminds me of this quote  --

Ain't that the truth? We have to keep it fresh - for ourselves AND out students. 

There are inevitably parts of our practice that we begin to leave out as we grow as teachers. I know  that I'm a better teacher than I was in my first year (by a lot), but there are things I had sort of decided I'd outgrown. When I examined them closely, I'm not sure why. Maybe my "simple is better" mantra? Maybe I thought I was doing those things in a less formal way? 

Whatever the reason - I brought back five best practices last year, and it made a HUGE impact only my classroom. Maybe you need a little inspiration to bring back these "oldies but goodies"? I'll share one goal per day until we've shared all five!

This is so simple, but I haven't done it since my first year of teaching. Sure - we set smaller goals during the year, but there is *nothing* like setting some long-term academic and culture goals, and investing kids in them. Last year my goals were: 
  • We will become voracious readers by naming our favorite books and reading as much as we possibly can.  
What's so great about this goal? It's focused on the habits and mindsets of students, rather than something external that they can't control. It also tells not only what they will become, but how -- by reading as much as they can. Here's where the measurable part comes in - I change the amount that correlates to "as much as we possibly can." 
  • We will become published writers by meeting or exceeding our "second grade writer" goals on our writing rubrics. 
What's so great about this goal? Writing is super important to future success. Think about how many times you've had to communicate your message effectively using writing. All day, every day, right? And I know  many of us are guilty of judging the grammar of others ... 

SO writing has to be part of the goals of the classroom. I also like to throw that "or exceeding" in there too - ain't nothing wrong with an overachiever, y'all. 

  • We will ALL meet our individual MAP goals in the Winter and Spring. 
Ugh. Standardized testing, am I right? We use NWEA's MAP assessment at my school. I will say that one boon of this test is that it offers individualized growth goals for each students. I really appreciate that it doesn't set one set goal. More on MAP later. 

  • We will look a challenge in the eyes and smile. 
This one is my favorite, y'all. It's all about the grit. I can't tell you the difference it makes for kids when you set perseverance as a goal for the class, name it and LOOK for it. When a student says to themselves, "This is hard for me, but I'm up for the challenge." It. is. so. good. 

Welp -- those are my goals for my class. What are yours? 

Up next in the "Back to Basics" series: Plan Backward 

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