goal-focused teaching

1976 Ford Granada Coupe

When I was 6 years old, my family went on the first major road trip that I can remember. I vividly recall stacking suitcases into the trunk, grabbing bags full of snacks, and piling into our red 1976 Ford Granada for a trek south to Disneyland. The trip felt spontaneous and exciting to my 6-year-old mind, but I realize now that my parents put a lot of planning into the excursion. My mom and dad had spent weeks figuring out where we would go, what we would do, and how we’d manage to pay for everything.

Setting goals is a vital part of moving forward in life.

Today, I’m working off-campus with a remarkable group of educators from around southern Oregon. We’re talking about utilizing technology in the classroom and the underlying framework that can make it successful. We were asked to set some technology-related goals for the remainder of this school year.

Here are some of the things I’m thinking about…

I want to continue to learn what my students are capable of doing with technology. This is my first year as a 3rd grade teacher and it has been a bit of an adjustment. Third graders need more support and assurance than 5th graders typically do, so there is more front-loading required whenever we start something new. (There are also way more hugs along the way, though, so it works out just fine.) The first day we pulled out the Chromebooks and tried to log-in nearly killed me. The slooooow progress made me fear that we might never be able to move beyond the start-up screen to actually be able to create anything. Nine weeks later, I am amazed and delighted by the confidence that my students are showing in how they have embraced technology and the way they support each other along the way.

I want to find a good balance in technology utilization with my 3rd graders. I have always had a tendency to adopt things quickly because they seem innovative or interesting. It can be really good to embrace new and compelling opportunities, but it can also muddy the water for my students if the tools and resources are not integrated in an enduring, meaningful way. I need to filter through the things I’ve used with students at other grade levels and sift through the constantly-growing tide of new tools to find things that will connect with my kids, give them room to grow and create, and move them in the direction of accomplished understanding.

I want to open my students’ eyes to possibilities and help them run with their natural curiosity and creativity. At 3rd grade, there is SO much imagination and willingness to try new things. Technology is a perfect arena to give students tools to express themselves and create something in the process. An area where this is especially true is learning how to write code. Code-writing is at the core of all technology…all apps and games and websites…they’re all made with code. People who know how to write code have an amazing canvas upon which to create, publish, and share their imagination. (They also have an amazing degree of options when it comes to finding a job!) This year, I want to involve my students in learning how to code. It seems daunting at the moment, but there are some great tools available to help make the journey successful.

Learning is a never-ending process. There is always something new to discover and something worthwhile to take away. As I set goals for where I take my students this year, I am helping them to make learning and creativity a priority. I’m also helping myself to keep my focus on the great satisfaction to be found in being a lead learner. I want school to feel like an exciting journey for my kids, and I want them to see that all great adventures require planning.


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