August 13, 2013

Student Goals (Part 4 of updating my practice this year)

Over the years I have learned a lot about goals. I LOVE watching TED Talks that relate to goal setting.

Shawn Achor basically says that goals serve a deceiving purpose. We set goals for ourselves to define our level of success. The problem with that is when we accomplish something we reset the goal to something seemingly bigger and better. Therefore, that feeling of success gets pushed over the cognitive horizon. We never really get that mental reward of achievement. You get a B, it needs to be an A. If you get an A it needs to be an A+. If you get an A+ there will be another test/paper/project in the future, etc.
You can see his amazing talk here - Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work #TED :

Derek Sivers says that you need to keep your goals to yourself. Just by telling some done what you are set out to accomplish you feel a sense of accomplishment. In sharing the goal you receive the gratification of that other person admiring your goal. Because you feel like you have done something already, you are less likely to actually do anything.
You can see his TED Talk here - Derek Sivers: Keep your goals to yourself #TED :

Daniel Pink probably has the most widespread TED Talk regarding motivation. From that I learned you cannot build an if, then reward system. I can't just tell my students what to do in order to be rewarded with admiration and grades. It doesn't even work if they set their own goals and I do that. If there are any effective rewards they have to come unexpectedly. Things need to be done because they have an internal desire to do them.
His talk can be found here - Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation #TED : do we get students to create meaningful, but reasonable goals that will encourage them to learn and then demonstrate that learning? Will the goals still be effective if they share them with me?

One of the things that Sivers says to do is to share your goal as a list of what you still need to do to achieve it. Instead of saying that I'm going to write a paper, explain what you need to do still to get that paper done. Does it become then an issue of shifting the goal language paradigm?

The last talk that I wanted to share is Simon Sinek's on how great leaders inspire action. More important than how we do something,or what we are going to do is why. His focus is on for profit companies like Apple Computers and TiVo. But,the ideas easily play into education. The success of Apple Computers has been their desire to change the world. As opposed to selling us computers, they figured out that they needed to sell us on why we need their computers. Students need to not only understand why they are learning a subject or am skill, but they need to have a reason for their own goals. They need their peers and their teachers to understand why they, as individuals, need to achieve their goals.
Simon Sinek's TED Talk can be found here - Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action #TED :

There is a lot to think about here. I like to think that I have a lot of insight, but at the same time, I have few answers. I want my students to create realistic, relevant, and effective goals. But, given all of these obstacles, how do we accomplish that together?

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