Why you should set soft goals for your classroom this year

When you set your goals for the fall, don't forget your soft goals.

There are hard and fast things you must do in the classroom. There are tasks, standards, and objectives that must be met. However, it is easy to be so busy as a human doing and forget that you're teaching human beings.

This is why I like the Classroom Habitudes so much. (Read the book by Angela Maiers) It gives us a “to be” list before you hit the to do list. Students need to know what we want them to BE as we reach to do the things that they need to do. They need to see the purpose behind the plan.

Make a list of the things you want your students “to be”

Even more so, we, as teachers, need to be intentional about what we want to help our students be. Thankful. Passionate. Curious. Ethical. Perseverant. Creative… and the list goes on.

Intentionally think about your soft goals because these give you a canvas upon which you will paint your class activities. They should influence the posters you select, the projects you design, and the lessons you plan. You can teach math in a way that harnesses the power of passion. You can weave lessons in that will allow students to show thankfulness to others. You can have projects that foster curiosity.

Purposefully determine what these “to be's” are. Know them. Use the language. Discuss them.

These are things you can do, but important things never do themselves. They start with you.

I think it is best to look at these soft goals in the summer. Take some time and write down the important things you want to help students be.

Activity to get you started

Try this activity.

1. At the top of a page write… “this year, I want my students to be more…” then, answer the question. This will help you get started on your soft goals.

2. Brainstorm the books, music, projects, movies, and creative ways you can redesign the lessons you have to incorporate these to be's. Write these things next to each of the items you wrote in step 1.

TIP: State your “to be” in the positive

When you pick them be careful to state your “to be” in the positive. Instead of “don't bully” select “speak up when injustice happens.” We inadvertently remove the negative – so when you say “don't bully” – you're really hearing “bully.” (This is why most of us teachers are taught to say “be quiet” instead of “don't talk.” “Don't talk” will typically have the opposite influence of what we desire.)

Do this now.

School is right around the corner. Educators, we have a huge responsibility to educate a generation. If we forget the human beings in our classrooms we will one day have those humans be so busy doing that they might just forget about being kind, respectful, helpful, and understanding towards our generation. Things have a way of going around. You will reap the results of the soft goals you set now as will society, so choose well.

Schools can set soft goals for their year.

You can also be assured, that schools who are intentional about the “to be's” they select will reap the benefits of emphasizing those to be's. Principals can do the activity above. This is part of having vision and when it starts with the principal and superintendent – it becomes unstoppable. You are casting vision for what you want to be. Just prepare to work hard to be that yourself. If you say you want everyone to be something and you glaringly don't try to be that yourself. (For example, if you emphasize work ethic but find a way to leave early every day, you'll cause a morale problem.)

Please share

What are the “to be's” you want to emphasize this year? I am using Angela's Classroom Habitudes book for mine and adding “Integrity” as one of the to-be's.

What are yours? Please feel free to share them or the links in the comments. Do you create “soft goals?” Why or why not?


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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Dawn Casey-Rowe December 28, 2013 - 2:42 pm

This year, we’ve discussed creativity, taking initiative, thinking outside the box. It’s all so marketable…too bad there’s no data for it… ;)

coolcatteacher January 2, 2014 - 8:07 am

Some of the best things aren’t measurable but count for everything!Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere