Goals have the potential to be . . .
- And a host of other things . . .
Basically, goals are complex. This makes them rather intimidating. Or rather, it makes setting goals intimidating.
As teachers, we often find ourselves encouraging our students to set achievable goals for themselves. We do this because we know how reaching those smaller milestones aids in fighting off burnout and discouragement when things get rough (which they will). But discovering appropriate goals is no easy task and should not be passed off as one.
I do not exaggerate when I say I used to be absolutely terrible at goal setting. Both in my personal life (still not so great at it) and in my teaching (much better now. Interesting how my work progresses at a faster pace than my life. Hmmm . . . Anyway!). I am all about systems and creating processes that work for me. So in an effort to become more skilled at finding the goals for my students, I soon found I had landed on a system for this task.
How I Go About Finding Goals
Here is my outline for each class I teach (and sometimes for particular students):
1. Dream Big.
- If I could give anything—no limitations at all—what would I give these students?
- What is my biggest wish for where I want this class to be by the end of the year? Again, no limitations.
- In order to reach these big dreams of mine, what kind of teacher do I need to be?
- Create a beautiful dream on paper that launches me into a deep passion for these students.
2. Know the school.
- What does the school say are their core values?
- What values do I see being demonstrated in this school?
- Adjust my big dreams into goals to suit this school and their values.
3. Know the students.
- What do they enjoy outside of dance?
- What genre of dance do they most enjoy? Least enjoy? Why?
- How are they with self confidence?
- Do they know how to learn? Do they enjoy learning? What type of learners are there in my class?
- Are there behavior issues?
- What type of environment do these students create for one another? Inclusive? Exclusive?
- Do they have goals for themselves with dance? Outside of dance? Why do they dance?
- Mold my goals to inspire these specific dancers.
4. Make an effort to know the parents.
- Why did they put their kid in dance?
- Do they have other kids? Do those kids dance? If so, are the reasons the same?
- What kind of parenting style have they adopted?
- How do they prefer to communicate with me?
- How do I feel when I speak with them?
- What type of relationship do they appear to have with their kid(s)?
- Communicate my goals with clarity and care to the parents.
5. Organize the year.
- How many actual classes will I have with my students this year?
- Will any of those classes be used for choreography/rehearsal/exam preparation/etc? If so, figure that out now.
- Factor in a few missed classes for myself due to life emergencies/snow days/etc.
- Scale back my goals to meet the time restraints of the year.
6. Follow through.
- How will I integrate my goals into each and every class?
- How can I integrate my goals in fresh ways?
- Do I want to communicate my goals to my class? Why or why not?
- What are some cool and interesting ways I can keep myself on track with my goals? I know as soon as I get bored the students will get bored, too. My engagement is key.
- Devise a unique plan for each class that will keep me inspired.
Remember, plans never go according to plan, but a well laid out plan is far easier to adjust than no plan at all. Be prepared to adjust my goals for all sorts of things—from injuries and illnesses to bad attitudes and poor training from the past. Never give up on the students.
8. Celebrate the goal(s) accomplished.
Even if the students were not made aware of my goals, it is vital I help them see their progress and accomplishments. This helps them not give up on themselves. It teaches the rewards of perseverance. It fosters a sense of self worth and places high value on strong work ethics. Regardless of how much my goals for the students might have adjusted throughout the year there is always some progress that has been made. Find that progress. Shine the brightest spotlight on it and then . . . embrace it completely.
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