“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as who you become by achieving them.”- Zig Zigler
Earlier this year, I shared the above quote with my students after a goal setting activity. I asked them to think about what it meant, and a great life-changing lesson was born. Many shared some pretty profound thoughts and ideas, and those goals about “learn my multiplication facts” or “read 25 books” soon transformed into things like, ‘learn strategies to help me remember things’ or ‘decide what type of writing captures my attention and why’. I asked them to keep those ideas in their mind as they work toward their own goals this year. I wasn’t sure how much of an impact that day would have on them but I wanted to take goal setting to a more personal and meaningful place— a life-impacting place. I wanted them to learn about themselves as individuals and as learners. I wanted them to develop into people who understand what drives them, what challenges them, and how to tap into their own intrinsic drive. I wanted to give them purpose.
Fast forward a few months and here we are approaching the holidays. Yes, that wonderful time of year when students are getting tired and restless and teachers are feeling the vacation bug. So where are we now in terms of our drive and our motivation? Apparently, in a pretty doggone good place.
I have a student who left Thursday for an extended absence. I sent him along with a few assignments and promised to catch him up upon his return. That was Wednesday. On Thursday night he emailed me this:
Ms. Logue, just wondering if there is anything else I need to do while I’m gone besides what you gave me.
That one sentence email from my 4th grade student speaks volumes. He has been given assignments, and told that I’d catch him up later. He’s off the hook so to speak until he returns. But yet, here he is, not even a day into it, emailing me at 9pm asking if there’s anything else. I think what he meant was:
I am learning to be self-directed. I am fully engaged in learning for the sake of learning, and even though I don’t HAVE to do more, I want to. Can you please reply with something you need me to complete that perhaps you forgot.
So I did.
I also including a picture I had taken that day of our new desks (he missed the delivery!) and told him to head on over to Netschool and complete his work each day that he can. He is going to have “virtual class” this next week thanks to our tech integration. Who am I to stand in the way of this by saying, “oh you go ahead, we will catch you up later”. No. Our kids today don’t want that. Not if we are empowering them to drive themselves toward achievement. And so I learn another lesson from a 9 year old.
In between building digital graphs and creating a timeline of Cabeza De Vaca’s trip through Texas.
Am I actually competing with a once in a lifetime experience, and WINNING? Where does our influence end?
Imagine this: It doesn’t.