August 15, 2016

Beginning of the Year Goal Setting

As the school year gets ready to start back up, it is time to think about how to establish the classroom expectations for the year. The tone we set at the beginning of the year can be a good indicator of how successful the year will be.

Classroom teachers spend weeks establishing classroom expectations and a sense of community among students.  As a resource teacher, it can be challenging to set the tone due to our limited time with the students. My colleague and I have found that when students come to us they have no desire to talk about the rules since they have already been addressed so much in the classroom.  As a result, each year we strive to find new ways to have students help set expectations for our small group intervention so that we can make the most of every minute we have with them.

We hung posters for students to tell us their reading goals for the year.  Students wrote goals such as:  read fast, read chapter books, or read hard words.  By having students tell us what they want out of our group work, we let them know it was our goal to help them achieve their goals during our time together. 

Not only do we want students to know we value their goals for the year, we also want them to have input into our instruction.  We hung other posters to get more information about their hobbies, topics they want to learn about, and favorite books/genres/authors. Throughout the year, we incorporated as many of their interests as we could into the research-based reading program we were using. By making the effort to give students some input into our instruction, we found it led to a dramatic increase in motivation.

Instead of going over the rules for our small group intervention, we used our school's vision words (creative, fun, kind, safe, and hardworking).  Students brainstormed what these words look like in our small group intervention.  So even though we did not call them rules, this activity served the same purpose!

Previously our school used Baldrige tools to establish classroom rules and expectations (click here for additional information on Baldrige schools). Classroom teachers and students created Quality Student and Quality Teacher posters with words to describe the classroom expectations. Since students completed these with their classroom teachers, the resource teachers all used the same poster instead of making students do the activity multiple times. The poster provided a common language for all teachers (Supportive, Organized, Attentive, and Respectful).  

How do you set student goals and classroom expectations for the school year?   I am always looking for new ideas to try!

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