Teachers love to make goals. Sometimes because we have to make them, sometimes because that’s what sounds right! We make goals before we start the year, we make them for the upcoming weeks, and for each class. We like goals so much that we even involve our students in the process. In a world language class where the idea of community is important, teachers usually ask their students to help them create goals for the school year. For many students this goal creation is just one more routine at the beginning of the year and they end up writing or proposing those goals that they know are the ones that their teachers wanted to see or hear.
So what should we do to receive honest, efficient and useful feedback from our students? Usually I wait until the end of the first quarter of the year to ask my students for some kind of feedback. After two months of classes both students and teachers have a better idea about those things that are working well and those things that are not working very well in each class. The problem of maintaining throughout the year a set of goals that were created in August, is that these objectives do not reflect the current reality of the class, they only reflect an ideal of what both teachers and students wanted the class to look like when they worked on them at the beginning of the year.
Goals should not always be the answer or solution to negative or undesirable situations. On the contrary, those classes that we believe are going very well after the first quarter, are the ones that generally benefit most from the creation of new goals. This is because both teachers and students will create these goals on the basis of their experiences during the Initial weeks, they will have perspective. In both life and education, we cannot create goals without having the opportunity to reflect on our past experiences. Every goal must be supported by a previous experience.
Here is the goal we reached with my Spanish class 4.2 after analyzing the first weeks of class at the end of the first quarter.
“Our goal for the remainder of our Spanish 4.1 class is to have a more conversational mindset and to be able to talk about more things that are common. With this, we think that everyone would be able to participate in discussions at their level of Spanish. Also, we would like to have topics to talk about that are more of an everyday topic rather than a larger topic. With this, we could learn a few new words with every new topic that we may talk about and we will be able to all be involved and are able to all participate.”
I have intentionally highlighted those parts that reflect many of my previous conversations with the class. As you can see, allowing your classes to write goals after a couple of months can also show if the message you have been trying to convey from the beginning of the school year is an effective one.
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