Monday, March 21, 2016

Connecting With Students Through Goal-Setting

The following blogpost highlights Mrs. Kim Fisher (@Mrs_KFisher) and her work with goal-setting and feedback in her kindergarten classroom at Keystone Elementary.  Check out her work at and follow her classroom happenings at #KFKinders.  Also take a look at the work of other Keystone students and staff at #KeyRocks on Twitter and Instagram.

Throughout my day, I have the great pleasure to work with some fantastic educators.  These teachers are committed to making their students' experiences at school engaging, impactful, and student-driven.  One way teachers at Benton Community are making this happen is with individual and classroom goal-setting conversations with students.  I wrote about our district goal-setting process earlier this year HERE.  Taking it to the next level, many teachers are going beyond the district-provided three-times-per-year conversations.

At the request of our teachers, my colleague Cynda Mehlert (@cmehlert) and I did a professional development earlier this year on Setting Quality Goals, Monitoring, and Providing Effective Feedback at our PK-3 centers.  Included in this learning was research from John Hattie and his work in, Visible Learning.  We outlined the importance of feedback, and that in order to make the greatest impact student achievement, our goal-setting conversations with students have to be constant.  They cannot be goals we make with our students and then let them sit on a shelf for three months before we revisit them.  Students need to take ownership of these goals.  Our teachers took this learning and ran with it!

I would like to highlight how one of Benton Community's teachers is working through a new goal-setting process in her classroom.  I get to see this process as Mrs. Fisher's Instructional Coach, but I also witness the excitement as a parent of a student experiencing this first hand. My son comes home increasingly motivated to tell us about how he and his class are progressing on their goal wall.

The idea surfaced during a coaching cycle conversation Mrs. Fisher and I were having surrounding Characteristics of Effective Instruction.  We were looking for a way to go more in-depth with our coaching relationship, so Kim chose to do a self-assessment surrounding "Assessment for Learning".  We went through the Innovation Configuration Map for this specific Characteristic of Effective Instruction.  It was during her self-evaluation that she found she had some great ideas brewing for long-term goals of how she wanted to align goal-setting and feedback in her kindergarten classroom.  Fast forward a few months, and it is up and running in her classroom.  I'm am so impressed with the determination she has to make this work for her students.  She is up for modifying on the spot and seeing it through to a second year of implementation.

Please let me know if you have any questions as you look through this goal-setting process in Mrs. Fisher's kindergarten classroom!

Student goal-setting wall.  "I Can Statements" are on the top and bottom of the board. 

Each paw represents a student who has met the learning goal.  No names are attached, the class is aiming for 18 paws in each column, one for each student.  

Top Half:  Sent home when goal is set - students meet with Mrs. Fisher weekly to look at potential goal areas.  They brainstorm ways the student can help him/her meet the goal with activities at school and ways to practice at home.  Bottom Half:  Sent home when goal is met! 

Mrs. Fisher meets weekly with students to assess and check to see if they have met the learning goal. 

Bottom Half:  Sent home when a goal is met - the student, teacher, and principal sign the bottom of the goal sheet and it is sent home to parents.  They then set a new goal to work on for the next week.

Mrs. Fisher keeps track of each student's progress on a class Google Sheet. She marks dates of re-assessments and highlights when the goal is met.  

Mrs. Fisher now puts a * when all of the students have met the target.  The class can see how they are doing while also taking ownership in their part of the process.

2nd Annual #BCedCamp is June 23