“It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.” Paul Arden
I’ve been thinking about goals a lot lately, goals for my students, goals for my department, professional goals for myself and personal goals. It’s this time of year I’m looking at student data and thinking about the year ahead and also leading up to my main sporting event of the year The Lakeland 50. (Planning to knock a few hours off last year’s time and finish feeling strong.)
I think that setting goals is an important part of the developmental process; whether long or short term, simple or hugely ambitious. @Learning Spy has written an excellent blog on goals and his tips to make them worthwhile here. He also includes an Ultrarunning story so as far as I’m concerned he hit the target with this one;)
I’ve also been lucky enough to see Dr Ian Boardley speak again this year at the Lakeland Recce Days. He’s a lecturer at Birmingham University and an accomplished ultrarunner. He shared a way of categorising goals in sporting events that I felt had some lessons I could apply to my professional goal setting in education. So the three categories are:-
This is a focus on the end product of a particular event. Success is determined in very specific terms such as a time goal in running or a specific % of students achieving a specific grade or hitting all of your performance management goals. These are useful for us in terms of long term thinking and really useful to people with leadership responsibilities as these allow tracking of strategic goals.
This focus on the overall outcome of a particular event: usually in comparison to others. Beating a particular rival in a race or in our terms in education getting better results than another school or teacher or getting a better observation grade than a rival. These competitive goals make a lot more sense in sport than education as we’re very much a collegiate and supportive profession. We’re after the best for all not just ourselves.
This is a focus on in-performance goals, what you’re doing during the event. Addressing optimal form, technique and strategy. In race this is about when to run and when to walk (50 miles is quite a long way), getting my eating and hydration right. In school it’s about what to do and when to do it. What time of day do you mark efficiently? What do you need to remember to add to your lessons? (Starters? Plenaries? More questions?) What are the indicators you need to look out for when things aren’t going well and what are your strategies to overcome these? By thinking and planning around process goals in advance it allows me to focus on what I’m doing, not trying to figure out a strategy on the spot. A lot of adaptability comes from having though possibilities through in advance or experience of similar situations in the past. Things rarely go well by sheer good fortune. It’s also good to know what you’re going to do when things don’t go well.
I think all of these have value, process and performance more so in the educational setting. On a day to day basis I feel that thinking about our process goals could make the biggest impact and therefore support us in achieving our other goals. The process goals you set could be about your lesson structure; remembering to use a plenary to check the learning or making sure the class get time to tidy away making the end of the lesson less panicked. It could be setting specific times to do specific tasks; like booking certain slots for marking or putting an hour a week to spend on new ideas that would otherwise fall by the wayside. It might even be specific responses, for example if I see Marmaduke distracted I’ll knock on a table as a prompt rather than yelling – “How ye; get on with yer work.” Make sure the student knows the prompt too otherwise they’ll think you’ve gone wrong.
These small, specific, day to day changes help build good habits; it’s very much the Marginal Learning Gains idea of making lots of little impacts which accumulate to make a big difference.
So dream big, aim high and know how you’re going to get there.
Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE
Featured image made using the following site:- Dude Generator.