Shortly after the school year started, I had my students write down some goals that they wanted to accomplish during the school year. The goals did not have to be school related. They could be health, hobby, relationship, or anything else focused. Then, using an idea inspired by Jon Gordon, I had the students come up with one word that would capture or summarize their goals.
They were struggling at first to come up with one word, so I shared my one word “generosity” and how it captured my goals for the year. We discussed and shared some possible words like focus, determined, purpose, health. After students chose their one word, they made a banner of it, and we put them on the bulletin board as a daily reminder to ourselves.
Every Monday since then, we write a journal entry based on four questions. 1) How well did they meet or work towards meeting their goals? What were their successes? Challenges? 2) What were 3 good things that happened last week and why did they happen? 3) What are 3 good things you are looking forward to this week and why? 4) What specific steps are they going to take this week in order to meet, or work towards meeting, their goals?
We talk about how to turn general goals like ‘get my homework done’ into actionable steps: 1) gather up all my homework before I leave school. 2) sit down at my desk when I get home and finish all homework before supper. 3) put the completed homework in my backpack so I won’t forget it at home. Then I won’t have to tell Ms. Langland my homework is done, but I forgot it at home. Then she won’t start wondering if she had a toonie for every time a student told her that, could she be retired and living in Costa Rica helping the endangered baby sea turtles make it to the ocean?
In all seriousness, though, what I am wanting my students to take away from this exercise is five fold. One, the importance of setting goals. Two, turning goals into specific, actionable steps. Three, regularly reflecting on the progress of their goals makes it more likely they will achieve those goals. Four, deliberately practicing gratitude increases happiness levels and helps build resilience. Five, improving their writing and critical thinking skills.
What I am worried about, though, is if I am packing too much learning into too small a framework. Does what I am doing allow for deep learning of all 5 of the outcomes? Or, am I like the curriculum that tries to cover too much in too short a time?
What do you think? Too much for one exercise? Suggestions to improve?
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