When I entered my classroom two years ago as a new teacher, I had some very big goals for my students. Not only would they grow by two grade levels in math and reading, they would read 2,490 books and reach all of their IEP goals.
Now, after two years of teaching more than 3 dozens students with IEPs and having spent the past few weeks helping train almost a hundred new teachers how to write meaningful big goals for their classrooms, I reflect back on those first goals I wrote (and heavily advertised throughout the year). They make me laugh. They make me cry. They make me wonder what in the world I was thinking throwing in general growth goals that would have potentially contradicted IEP goals. And 2,490 books??? What was I thinking?? I didn't even realize my students didn't know their vowels at that time!
But what crushes me the most in hindsight is that I set those ridiculously arbitrary and misfitting numerical goals with very little thought and purpose behind it. I knew I wanted to change their lives, but I didn't know what it would look like and how the numerical goals would be a proxy in measuring the real learning I needed to facilitate.
As I lament my failure to spend time crafting a meaningful, life changing goal for my students, I am inspired by the work of the new teachers I am working with. Each person is in the process of designing and articulating what they want their students to be able to do by the end of the year.
And so that is a question I must ask everyone: What is your class vision? What do you want your students to achieve by the end of the course? How will that change their lives?