Teaching Goals

I want my students to learn how to do derivatives. I hope to teach them how to write their own Shakespearean sonnets. I hope they can memorize every muscle in the humanbody.

This week I asked teachers and homeschool moms alike what they are passionate about teaching their pupils.  Can you believe that NOT ONE person said anything I just wrote?


You guessed it.   The responses I got were thoughtful and life giving.

Statements like: Perseverance. Finding the answer doesn’t always come quickly. It’s necessary to use what you know and think to find answers. It’s okay to think about things differently, but be willing to listen to someone else’s ideas. 

Or: How to think critically and form their own educated opinions and how to be good human beings! If you are a good person who can form educated opinions, think critically especially before you act, and see multiple perspectives, you can change the world!

The general themes included the following: to think, to be respectful, to search for truth, to love learning, to be kind, to find our purpose in God, and to dream big.

But I wonder, if that is what our students see as our goals?  This time of year, I think it is easy to ponder the impact someone really had on our lives. But what about in October?   February?

I’m committing my year in the fall to finding out if focusing more on quality and less on content makes a difference.  Here are some things I plan to try:

  1. I’m going to rename each unit.  Instead of the standard “Chapter 2, Finding the Slope of a Line,” I think a great working title would be “You will climb a mountain in life, and I hope you challenge yourself.”  If everyday I say that same phrase, instead of the usual “ok, let’s get back to slopes,”  maybe my voice and my intent for their lives will be more meaningful. Maybe they will see the relevance throughout the year.
  2. I believe in self-reflection.  But looking back, that was only part of my teaching at the very end of the year or big unit.  So next year, how about a day of reflection each month or week.  We can write.  We can talk.  We can think about our strengths and weaknesses. Instead of a goal mentality, I’m hoping to instill the joy of jumping to each new stepping stone along the path.
  3. I’m going to challenge myself to change my grading system.  If perseverance is more important that Pythagoreans theorem, does my grading reflect that?  Over the years I have taught many types of students, including those who work hard every day but struggle to understand and those who sleep through class and still manage to maintain a passing grade. Which student is being set up for success? This one scares me the most, which means it is probably the most important.

I don’t know if these ideas will work.  And I’ll probably add to the list as the year goes on.

But I think a passion for changing the world through character development is a noble cause.   And I want my goals for my students and my own passion to be transparent.

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