“Let’s write some goals.”

Collective groan.

By 10 years old, my students are tired of making goals.  I don’t blame them.  After more than four decades of writing goals, I’ve grown a bit weary of them myself.  It’s not that I don’t have goals.  It’s just that I’m an “Achiever,” (according to one of the many personality assessments I’ve done over the years) and my life is pretty much an infinite list of goals because I get depressed when I’m not working on accomplishing something.  So, writing goals down seems a waste of time – time that could be spent on trying to achieve some goals.

When it comes to having students write goals, I feel like we are just going through the motions.  They write something they think I want them to write, sometimes even make a “plan,” and then pretty much go on living their life the same exact way they were living it before.

I will be the first to admit that it’s my fault that goal-setting never seems to go far with my students.  I usually start out well, checking in with them regularly, and then life seems to happen and goal-checking just doesn’t seem to lead the list of priorities.

So, I’m going to make it a goal to be better at helping students make (and achieve) goals.

It’s possible goal-making has never seemed very genuine to me because I’ve been skipping an important step with my students.  Instead of doing WOOP, we’ve been doing WOP, and that extra “O” apparently makes a big difference.

WOOP, according to Gabriele Oettingen, stands for, “Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan.”  The problem many people make in setting goals, by Oettingen’s reckoning, is ignoring the potential obstacles.  We are usually good at figuring out what we want to accomplish, how it would feel, and how to get there, but we tend to omit any consideration of the very real problems that we may encounter on the way.

Just to digress a little, I know that WOP can have negative connotations, but it was actually the nickname of one of my husband’s uncles.  It took me a few years after meeting Uncle Wop to find out how he got his nickname.  It turns out that he was running to go outside when he was a kid and ran into a glass door.  Wop.

And that’s kind of what we do when we skip the Obstacle part of WOOP.  We know we want to get somewhere and have a quick plan to get there, but we don’t think about what might stand in our way and how to deal with it or avoid it.  We hit the glass door.

And we WOP instead of WOOP.

And if we are really unlucky, we get labeled with an unfortunate nickname that lasts for another seventy years.

If you’d like to read more about WOOP and see an example of each step, check out this article on Mindshift.


The 5 Word GPS Challenge

When people say, “Begin with the end in mind,” I tend to take that suggestion to the extreme.  I picture a chaotic world where I have just given my life in a failed attempted to save our planet, and people mourning over a tombstone hastily erected in my honor that says, “She cared.”

Dave Burgess (author of Teach Like a Pirate) has a slightly less morbid take on, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Building on an idea by Michael Matera, Burgess suggests that teachers imagine your students using 5 words to describe your class at the end of the school year.  If a word cloud was made from all of those adjectives, what would be the ones that would stand out the most?  


What would be the ones that you would want to stand out the most? That should guide you through your year as you make choices about how to present the curriculum to your students.

Here is a word cloud my 2nd grade GT students made about our class at the end of last school year.  (We made a class word cloud, and then they inserted it into a Pic Collage with photos of their favorite memories of the year.)

WordCloudI loved that “challenging,” “create,” and “imagine” were included.  I thought it was amusing “sudoku” was a favorite activity, and slightly surprised that “grit” made it in there (one of those things I emphasized so much that I thought they were just tuning me out).

For a motivational video from Dave Burgess himself regarding this great way to “begin with the end in mind,” head on over to this link.  “Passion” should definitely be one of the words in his cloud!



Next Year is Here

My goals are not nearly as lofty!  from:  http://huff.to/19FqEpF
My goals are not nearly as lofty – although, I’ve been practicing for the professional soccer one in my spare time.
image from: http://huff.to/19FqEpF

Near the beginning of the summer, I posted a series reflecting on some of the changes I want to make for this upcoming school year.  It is our staff development week here in San Antonio, and I have been looking back at my resolutions as I begin to plan for the return of the students next week.  I’m glad I wrote these back in June – because many of the specifics of these declarations left my brain about a week after I recorded them.  In case you are interested, and missed the posts the first time around, here are some of my goals for this school year:

Next Year Will Be Even Better – Genius Hour Ideas

Next Year Will Be Even Better – Online Learning

Next Year Will Be Even Better – Programming for Kids

Next Year Will Be Even Better – Skype in the Classroom

Next Year Will Be Even Better – Doodling

I’m a bit concerned about my Doodling goal.  I think I can do the encouragement part – but maybe not so much the modeling!

Now, if I’m really good at this whole self-reflection business, I will come back to this list next June to evaluate how I fared.  Maybe I should ask my students to track these; they have much better memories!