Dear Parents,

Last week I attended the state Principal’s Convention, where I had the opportunity to further my own learning about how to improve teaching and learning (both teacher learning and student learning).  One of the sessions that resonated with me dealt with the importance of planning and goal-setting conferences.

We believe goal-setting is an important part of learning.  Goal-setting has been found to be an effective instructional strategy (effect size 0.56).  It also develops confidence in our students.  Our teachers meet with students regularly to set goals not only for academic progress but also social and behavioral progress.   This year, our school academic goal focuses on reading (85% of students will meet grade level reading benchmarks by the end of the 2015-16 school year.)  Our social and behavioral goals focus on being respectful, responsible, and safe in all school settings.  This year, we are extending these goals to include bus behavior to and from school.

Within the classroom setting, teachers meet with students to set individual goals within each academic area.  When I walk through classrooms, I see very specific goals on desks which may include stretching sounds in words, looking for inferences, or mastering specific math targets.  Teachers often have the goals on the boards and review them with students to make sure they have a deep understanding of their expectations.  Goal-setting keeps students involved in their learning and provides an opportunity for students and teachers to have rich discourse about their thinking and where they are going next.  When goals are accomplished, we celebrate, and the success encourages future efforts toward accomplishing goals.

As parents, you can be involved in your child’s goal-setting by talking to them about their goals in school.  If you have trouble getting specific answers (which is often the case in my home), please contact the teacher.  When we work together to show students that their goals matter to us, they will engage more deeply and hopefully develop more confidence.  Students love to show us the great things they are learning.

Have a great weekend!