As most teachers are finishing up their year and thinking on student successes, it is the perfect time to reflect. A good teacher is a reflective teacher; someone who takes the time to think about what they did, how effective it was, and what changes need to be made to be more effective the next year. One of the things I am focusing on is did I clearly define my learning goals this year so that all of my students know what they are learning and more importantly, why it is important?
One of my goals in my classroom is to teach my students to take more responsibility for their learning. As I wrote in my first blog, it is very important for students to take ownership of their learning if they are going to be college and career ready. One of the ways that students can do this is by setting goals. This is not a natural thing that just comes to kids. They need to be taught how to set a goal and how to achieve that goal. This starts by modeling learning goals in the classroom. Do students know what your expected outcome of their learning is? Do they know why learning that specific skill/concept is important to them in life? Do they know how they are going accomplish that learning goal and what to do if they don’t accomplish it? These are all important aspects that need to be addressed.
Design Question 1 in Marzano’s Teacher Evaluation Model focuses on some specific strategies that teachers should incorporate into their teaching regarding learning goals.
The first step is to provide clear learning goals and scales to students. These should be based on your learning standards and benchmarks. It is important to make sure that you write your learning goals in kid friendly language that they can understand. My district likes to use I can statements in ELA and social studies. Teachers should post their learning goals each day and go over those goals with their students. They should also let students know how they will be assessed or how students will know if they reach their target. I like to go over my learning target before I start my lesson and then have a student tell me in their own words what the target is and then how they will know if they reach it. Providing a rubric or scale that students can understand is also important. My district uses standards based grading so my students are very familiar with a 4,3,2,1, scale. When I am grading using a rubric, I always make sure that students are familiar with the rubric and we go over examples of what each category looks like under each scale.
The next step is to track student progress. With older students, I want them to track their progress. Again, trying to get them to take ownership of their learning. If you are the one tracking, it is equally important to make sure students are aware of where they are at in their progress. According to the Marzano Compendium of Learning Strategies, “Research has shown that feedback – making students aware of their progress toward learning goals – increases student achievement. Feedback is particularly effective when accompanied by clear goals and when given frequently.” Therefore, not only letting students know where they are at, but providing specific feedback of what students still need to work on is vital.
Lastly, it is very important to celebrate successes. I will be honest, this is probably my weakest point and something I need to work on. This is kind of a fun area of the Marzano platform to explore because, well, who doesn’t like celebrating and being recognized for a job well done!?
There are many ways to celebrate successes. Consider both tangible and verbal celebrations.
- Individual conversations/praising (this can be very empowering and encouraging to students)
- Displaying posters/charts/graphs on walls
- Offering independent learning/exploration to students who’ve passed a certain level
- Display copies of student work/student portfolios
- I have seen students wear buttons or stickers that say something along the lines of “ask me how I was successful today.”
- High five
- Note home
- Certification of success
Clearly, this list is just a launching point for ideas of ways to celebrate student success in your class. Depending on the MANY varying factors of your class population—location, demographics, diversity–there are endless ways to expand this list.
Another fabulous way to expand the list is to have a brainstorming session with students and document (and post!) the list of accomplishments and rewards that accompany them. It goes without saying that your students will love creating this list! Also, because they come up with their own list, they automatically have a sense of ownership of it and will take more responsibility for their learning—even if it is just to earn the rewards on the list! Knowing your students is important with this too. Some of my students love being recognized in front the class while I have others who would be mortified if I celebrated their achievement in front of others.
Do you model learning goals in your classroom? I’d love to hear how you incorporate this.