Taking Control of their Education

Setting goals…we all do it to some degree, right? We set short term goals like folding the laundry before we go to bed or going for a run every morning or finishing that book we started. We set long term goals for our careers or our families. But how did we learn to do that and when?

As adults, we know that the skill of being able to set a realistic goal for yourself and to plot the steps to achieving that goal is critical to success in life. So how does this factor into early education? At the Yadkin Valley Community School, we believe that it is never too early to start developing this skill. We also believe that, for children, being empowered to set their own goals for their education is key to true academic success.

“The carrot and the stick are mediocre forms of education. Only a true love affair with learning helps students discover their great inner genius, effectively develop it and greatly refine it to become their best and to deeply benefit society.” – A Thomas Jefferson Education

This year, Mr. D has met with each student, from kindergarten to 5th grade, individually to discuss their goals for the year. This often overlooked step seems so simple, but is so powerful. Think about it. Do you know a teenager or twenty-something that has no idea what they want or need to do and no idea what the necessary steps are to accomplish it? I’m sure we all do. Now think about our students learning from age 5 that they have a say in their education. They can set their own goals (with the help of Mr. D of course), and that makes them so much more invested in their day to day learning.

These goal-setting meetings are an extension of their daily (for the younger students) or weekly (for the older students) work plans. The work plans are the goals that are set for the students by Mr. D with input from the students. With the end of the year quickly approaching, keeping everyone focused becomes more challenging. By meeting with the students and having them verbalize their goals, Mr. D is able to refocus them and with greater self-awareness, keep them on task. As the last few weeks progress, we’ll reflect on the progress we’ve made.

Goal setting gives kids a sense of purpose and ownership while building confidence and self-esteem. This is a student-drive, versus teacher-driven, classroom. That’s why it is important for the children to have say in what they want to accomplish by the end of the year, not just be told what they need to do. The students expressed desires to complete outdoor projects they had started, improve their chess games, learn to write complete sentences in Spanish, finish learning their multiplication facts and really master counting money. A kindergartner set a goal of improving his British accent. They’re learning.