Whenever we aim to accomplish something, it begins with a seed of an idea and a vision for what that idea can grow into with consistent attention. We start by setting our sights on the thing that we want and figuring out how we’re going to get there. Usually, in the beginning when the goal is fresh and new, we’re really excited and energized to accomplish whatever it is we’re determined to do–get in shape, read a book a day, journal, sit down at the table with our families every night–and our efforts are fervent. However, because the path to achieving our goals can be riddled with obstacles and diversions, oftentimes we quickly veer from the path and find ourselves wandering aimlessly off course, This leaves us feeling frustrated and doomed to chronic cycles of deflating failure. We ask ourselves, “What’s the problem? Why can I not reach my final destination?
We, too, grapple with these questions and have come to realize that beginning with the end in mind (setting a goal) is the easy part. The real work is keeping the end in mind which involves being intentional about setting in place some accountability measures. For example, one goal that we seem to always be working on is making healthy meal choices. Because our work has us eating in airports and restaurants often, it is very easy to veer from the path. To be more intentional, we have been begun doing two things to hold ourselves accountable. First, we are keeping note of what we eat in an online journal and second, we are actively seeking restaurants that print the calories of their dishes on their menus. Nothing helps you keep the end in mind like calories on a menu! We find that doing these things moderates our energy, and helps us to stay the course we set for ourselves by helping us keep our actions aligned to what we believe and want.
In literacy, one of the goals we set for ourselves is to help children become more independent and proficient readers. While we don’t like to think of ourselves veering off this path, there are many factors including too little time, administrative directives, and standardized testing that can derail efforts to help children in the way we intend. Now that you are fully entrenched in the school year, this is a good time to ask yourself how you are intentionally helping students achieve this goal. What’s going well? What’s not going so well? How are your practices lining up with what you really believe about reading and reading instruction? What will you do to help keep this end in mind?