On Monday mornings while getting breakfast, instead of the normal chatter of where is this or what about that, we talk about our learning goals for the week. It isn’t complicated, but it does require that each person think through what they are going to do and learn that week.
This week, the conversation went like this:
“What is your learning goal for this week, Colin?”
“I want to have an overall of 92% in all of my classes.”
“Wow! That’s a hefty goal. How are you going to reach that goal?”
Colin: “I’m going to do all of my work. Read my textbooks and check my answers.”
Now, Colin is capable of making 92% in all of his classes during this coming week. I know this will be an achievable goal but also one that will make him stretch as he will need to really concentrate and not be ‘learning lazy’ which is our term for simply completing lessons like they are a task list.
Another conversation with Kathryn:
“What is your learning goal for this week, Kathryn?”
“I am going to be first chair in band.”
Again, this is an acceptable goal for her. She can achieve this goal but she will need to stretch as she has two other baritone players this year. I’m sure the question is what about academics for Kathryn? That is a great question! She is at the beginning of her school year and working through review material. She has a 100% in each of her classes thus far. She also knows that she needs to set her own goals when it comes to learning something new this week. So, back to our goal conversation …
“Do you have other learning goals this week, Kathryn?”
“I do. I’m going to read my What If book with Colin every day. I am so excited about it. It is a great book, mom, and I’m learning some really cool science stuff.”
Our conversation went further, but this is also a great goal for Kathryn. We didn’t set a page limit. Instead, she set a time goal. She was going to read for about 30 minutes a day with her brother. (They don’t usually read together but this book is in such great demand between the two of them that they made an agreement to read it together!)
I have a firm belief in teaching by example and quickly share my learning goals for the week as well. My goals were to:
- Continue working on my website -finishing my August posts and add some pdf files for knitting patterns.
- Finish reading The Start Up of You – a career savvy book which I am using to prepare some presentations at work.
- Learn how to make a peach pie from scratch.
At the end of the week, there is a reward. Each Monday, we choose what will be the reward for that week. Last week, we made a trip to Barnes and Nobles. This week, we are going to try out a doughnut shop. We vary our rewards. A few weeks ago, we rented a Redbox movie. We’ve done miniature golf, frozen yogurt, park trips, visiting uncles and aunts, tickets to the community center plays, etc.
This may seem like a lot of work. It can be. But, it doesn’t have to be. I work full-time. I manage my website, family and church. I can still balance this. Why? Because it is a priority in my life. Education is the priority. I also remind myself that I am at the end of raising children. One day they will all be gone and moved out. I will wish I had prioritized more time with them.
In what ways have you promoted learning goals with your students and children?
By Tracy Atkinson
Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.