In high school I set a gold medal goal of graduating as number one, #1, in my class. I almost reached that goal! Graduating number two, #2, was quite an accomplishment. It was not the intended gold, but a silver medal is nothing to complain about, right? However, what if I had not set such a high goal to get me into motion? Would I have reached my full potential? Maybe not! I doubt Olympian athletes set goals of achieving bronze or silver medals either. They reach their full potential by always “Going for the gold.” Athletes realize that silver and bronze may not even be attained without initially aiming for gold. This is why sports is a strong analogy for mindset and goal-setting and the way I plan to present goal setting with my students.
As we begin another school year, let’s not make the mistake of letting our System 44 students settle for bronze or silver medal goals. As teachers of the most challenged readers, we need to do everything we can to help them succeed. After self-reflecting and talking with my peers, I find that striving for success and wanting to motivate our students, when it comes to setting goals, at times we are led to set less challenging goals to ensure success. However, is it possible at a minimum potential?
Setting goals and working to achieve them are new concepts to some of our students. They’ve had very little experience with reaching goals that others have set for them. I’ve learned that students have to own their personal growth goals and be willing to set high goals for themselves. Getting students to do this takes gradual steps and students have to see their progress throughout the year. Dividing their goals into small achievable steps will help them see a lofty goal as possible and one that they want to work hard to achieve!
To reach their maximum potential in reading comprehension, our students first have to improve letter and word fluency. The students have to understand that finishing each series in the System 44 software will get them closer to the ultimate goal of comprehension.
It is a little more difficult to give students a visual image of the growth expected in the Lexile Growth Goals Report. These goals always seem lofty for my intervention students.
At the 2018 Model Schools Conference in Orlando in June, I heard System 44 students referred to as striving readers for the first time. Like many educators, I’ve always called them struggling readers. Yet the word struggling seems to infer that you are having difficulty with something. I don’t want students to feel like they are struggling with their reading goals. I’d rather them know that they are striving every day to reach them. This was one of the learning moments that will continue to inspire my planning throughout the school year.
So, as we begin a new school year, lets help our striving students set those gold medal goals! We might be surprised just how many of them will reach higher than we ever expected and wear those gold medals with pride! I look forward to going for the gold with every student and hearing about your successes as well.
Please share some of your suggested goals in the comments. I would love to hear from you as well.
Going for the Gold!
2018 System 44 180 Educator Winner
Ms. Giddens has made a career out of doing whatever it takes to help struggling readers overcome personal and academic obstacles. She has embraced System 44, and her classroom instructional practices are used to familiarize and train other teachers on the program’s implementation.