What do you want your student to be like by the time they leave home? We all have dreams that we hope will come true. But when was the last time you engaged in the process of identifying these desired outcomes and then set about the task of developing a plan to make those dreams a reality?

As Yogi Berra reportedly observed, “If you don’t decide where you are going, you’re liable to end up somewhere else!”

This time of year teachers are finalizing course objectives, writing syllabi, determining what students should know in May and developing the instructional plan and pacing that will give them the best chance of success.  Establishing benchmarks along the way provide multiple check points to monitor progress. These formative assessments inform the mid-course adjustments that keep students on track.

What’s next?

John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle’s recent book, A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World, offers this counsel. “Parents and mentors often ask students what they’re going to do when they grow up. However, far more important than what they’re going to do one day is what they’re going to do next.”

What goals do you have for your student(s) this year? This month? This week? What practical steps will contribute to success?

Let’s try this one!

Goal: My student will be able to carry on a conversation with both peers and adults. They will be able to give focused attention to the one they are speaking with by maintaining appropriate eye contact.

How can we help our students attain this skill?

  • Commit to engaging your student in at least one conversation of longer than seven minutes daily. I’m told that most conversations take seven minutes to get below the surface pleasantries or avoidances and on to something more substantial. You might have to start with shorter visits and work up to cross the seven-minute barrier!
  • Establish some technology-free zones in your family to facilitate conversations. The car, dinner table, and the bedroom are three spaces best suited for conversation and most often hijacked by screens.
  • Make it your family practice to encourage eye contact in conversation. If one person in the conversation looks at their phone, the other one needs to stop talking until they regain the attention of the “screen captive.” It’s a helpful prompt to honor one another with undivided attention.
  • Encourage settings where your student will engage in conversation with adults. Working in the church nursery with adult workers, signing up to be a teacher’s aide, encouraging them to talk face to face or at least call rather than text to gain more practice.
  • Talk about these goals in the family so that all are aware and alert to help one another in pursuit of these goals. Set regular intervals to check your “benchmarks” of progress and make mid-course adjustments as necessary.

Other goals?

Perhaps there are other age appropriate skills for your student(s) to master this year- emptying the dishwasher, mowing the yard, changing a tire, researching an upcoming family purchase, and the ever-present picking up their towel from the bathroom floor! Opportunities abound but they will go unfulfilled without an intentional plan to bring the dream to reality.

What do you want your student to be like in May 2018?


Best wishes for a productive school year!

Posted In Viking Views Blog From Headmaster Reflections, From Back to School, From Dream, From Hope, From Plan

Published on by Mike Sligh.