Slice of Life: New Year, New Goals, Now What?


I love the beginning of the year in school. It’s a new beginning. We start with a clean slate. New notebook. New pens. Clean spaces. Renewed focus. New goals. But the new doesn’t stay new for long. To be successful, we need accountability tools.

The thing is, accountability doesn’t work unless it is supported and wanted.

For some, the support needs to be social. I have a friend who is embarking on a weight loss program that requires checking in on Facebook. She understands there is no way she will do the work unless she has social pressure.

I’ve imposed accountability measures on myself with writing. Blogging and a writing group provide support.  If I didn’t have those constructs, I would not write. It doesn’t mean it’s easy or that I don’t hem and haw. That I don’t disappoint or, fall short of my goals, but I do it to some degree. The support of other bloggers and writing friends help me show up.

But all the support in the world would not matter if I didn’t want to do the work. The work is too hard, and the distractors are too great to be just about the support. I have to want it. The want has to come first. Then the support sustains. But I have to want it. And we have to humble ourselves. We have to say we’re not strong enough on our own. We have to accept someone else in our business.  Someone who can see us fail.

You think you get something, but then, you realize, maybe not so much. Recently, my son asked me to support him accomplish something. I was his accountability tool. But, everything came from him. It has to start there.

Funny. We teachers use the word “accountability” all the time. But do we think of it as a means to reach a wanted goal?  Accountability is not “got you.”  It is about defining what you want and who or what will help you through the ups and downs of accomplishment.

Goal making and accountability in the classroom is often one-sided. It starts and ends with the teacher. That right there is a problem. As the new year starts, all bright, shiny, and hopeful, I’m thinking about how to engineer the rest of the school year filled with goals students want to reach.

If you haven’t seen NED’s Great 8, check it out.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. Read more slices here.



14 thoughts on “Slice of Life: New Year, New Goals, Now What?

  1. Your post is so well articulated and deeply felt. Your post mirrors a conversation I just had with my daughter. She has a new job and is feeling a bit overwhelmed the number of hours she is expected to spend at work as well as the continuously increasing duties she is expected to assume. We talked for a while and I basically said, “What is the outcome you really want? And what would you settle for? And what would happen if you lost the job? Narrowing in on those points helped to better focus our conversation and helped her to decide how to present her position and her desires to her new boss. Most importantly, I learned that she really does want to keep the job (for now), so that is the basis for whatever else she says and does. I agree with you that the students need to have a stake in outcomes, too, for them to take ownership of a success or failure. We are the scaffolds and the cheerleaders. The rest is up to them.

  2. Raising children (teachers or parents) to make decisions and live with the outcomes can start them into this kind of authentic goal-setting. If they are rarely able to discover just “who” they are and what they really want, it’s hard to make goals they care about. Then to find that help to reach them is what you so beautifully spoke about. It’s a complex thing in our lives. I love that you’re going to help your students do this, Julieanne!

  3. I love how you apply your thinking about your own learning to that of your students. We should all be this reflective. Thanks for the Ted video. It was cute as well as made a good point.

  4. Goals are tough because short-term ones seem the most “doable”. Those can come from a writing checklist or a reading progression. But the “BIG Goals” – What will I know and be able to do at the end of 5th grade? That’s an essential question. That’s so much harder. (for kids AND adults!)

  5. So much to ponder here, Julieanne. The support piece is important, but you’re onto something with what you say about that instigating desire. When I think about my lagging blogging over 2016, the support I need was always there, but somehow, the want disappeared for awhile. Hard to rekindle when lost, even with support. I love your words about the importance of goal-setting for our students. I am committed to making more space for that in my classes this semester. It is so easy to become teacher-centered. It requires constant reflection and correcting the course to center our students.

    • I know what you mean about the blogging desire ebbing. I have had bouts with that as well. I think the constant thought that we have to teach something keeps us from letting kids teach themselves through thought. It isn’t easy for them or us!

  6. Such a thoughtful post for the first SOL of the year. You have clearly contemplated this idea for some time. Your words are carefully chosen and grab the reader to think along with you. Cheers to the bright and shiny new year!

  7. Hi Julieann, You are such a good writer! I forwarded this to Jennifer. It makes such an important point! Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Love, Sue

    Sent from my iPhone


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