Slowing Down and Creating Goals

“Go Slow, Go Deep” – Tina’s words have been resonating in my head since I read her last post and over the past couple of weeks. I find myself repeating them to myself daily in response to everything from delivering my lessons in math, teaching the students how to sustain reading effectively during independent reading time, to working through our class agreements and routines.

After reading those words, I found myself reflecting on how intently I work to developing class lessons, routines and climate, and how there are always times when a few students don’t seem to transfer the learning from the class lesson to their individual work or conduct.  It can be frustrating trying to figure out why the students are missing it: Was it because I am moving through the lesson too quickly? Were the expectations clear?  Was it because Jimmy was squirming too much in front of Tommy?   Maybe I’m not engaging them… or is it the material?

Then I remember  the words Go Slow, Go Deep…

After some reflection, I remembered that in order to go deep with my students, what they are doing has to be meaningful to them (even when the subject area isn’t every students interest), and that time needs to be given to hook the students into what they are learning and reflect on what they are supposed to be getting out of a certain activity or lessons  (their learning goal). I usually draw upon student interests to make my lessons fun but not all students are passionate about all areas of the curriculum all of the time, and rather than spend all my time scouring the internet for more fun teaching ideas, I need to find a sustainable way for the students to buy in, and go deep:

Inspired by  Jim’s inclusion activity about developing Goals/Strengths/Beliefs ( Heart And Art of Teaching and Learning, p.36), I adapted the activity to have students communicate their learning goals for several learning tasks and we have begun this for a number of activities and subject areas.

Before and during lessons I  have started to include time for developing goals with my students for what I hope them to learn by the end of the lesson and I have the students share what they  think the final outcome should look like. Sometimes that means that a lesson that was originally intended to take one period will now take two, or even be spread out over the week. These goals are communicated on the whiteboard or chart paper for the students’ reference and so that the students can begin to self-regulate more.  I hope that by putting in the extra teaching time now,  by mid-year the students will be in the habit of viewing  their lessons as a  ‘goal’ with a defined outcome that they want to achieve.

I hope that by taking more time to developing goals with the students, it won’t matter as much that Jimmy was particularly squirmy one day or that Ari was counting the ceiling tiles instead of paying attention to  what a Level 4 Journal entry looks like. It will matter less  because our goals will be visible, available and referred to regularly and eventually (hopefully) it will sink in.  One of my  goals for this year is to continue taking the time to make goals with my students so that they may  develop it as a habit that is internalized, routine and oriented towards success.



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