GOAL! Measuring Success

“What was the point of that?”

I’m realizing more and more that this reaction has probably been common among some of my students for some time. Why? Because for the last 2 years of teaching, I have never really provided my students with clear goals or targets within classes — or even within units — to complete to be successful in English class.

It is partly a consequence of not designing many lesson procedures. Now that I have started doing more lesson planning, I have discovered the wonders of this approach.

What is it?

It’s simple. It is essentially telling the students at the beginning of the class, what the goal for the class is. “Hey! That’s a no-brainer, Elliott. You mean to say you don’t do that?”

Well, I have to admit that for the better part of 2 years, I haven’t really. But I invite you to consider your own lesson plans. Do you really provide this valuable signal to your students every time?

If, however, you’re thinking, “Why goals? Who needs goals?” I’ll give you several reasons why it has revolutionized my teaching.

1) With goals, students better understand expectations. When students understand these often  elusive things, they are better able to perform tasks and activites.

2) Goals set a standard that can be used to assess students and/or the lesson or procedure.

3) Goals set a standard so that people know when they are meeting and exceeding the targets of a class/unit/subject/etc.

Goals can be a simple as saying, “By the end of the lesson you will know the how to say these 5 words well” or “By the end of the lesson you will be able to ask someone’s age.”

Or they can be larger. For example, “Today’s goal is to talk for 1 minute in English with 5 people.” Or better yet “Today’s goal is to talk more”.

General overarching goals are good for a class or an entire program. (Right now we are devising the overarching goals of our “Talk More! English communication classes.) Those are good for showing students what they are working toward.

Small, targeted, micro-goals are good for individual classes where you want students to perform specific things.

I think anyone in their right mind can only do stuff without expectation for so long. If a teacher always came into my class and had me doing things that I didn’t enitrely follow and without clear guidlines for when I did something well or not, I know I would get pretty upset and discouraged. 

So try to put an end to confused students lacking motivation. Tell students what they are going to do and set expectations so everyone can measure success.

A good friend of mine once said, “Do you know the great thing about high expectations? A lot of times students will exceed them.” Everyone wins.

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