I was thrilled to find this article in my ASCD SmartBrief last week on the importance of setting objectives. As one of the strategies highlighted in Classroom Instruction that Works, it’s often the first strategy we talk about during the workshop, and often one of the most important things a teacher can do to engage and motivate his or her students.
This article in particular focused on helping students to see how their decisions in school impact their future lives and careers. Students often go through the motions of “going to school” without realizing that decisions they are making at age ten, thirteen, sixteen, can hugely impact the options they have available by age eighteen. One question teachers often bemoan is the inevitable, “When are we ever going to use this?” If teachers can help their students to understand that learning to problem-solve, work through difficulties, prioritize, and network with others will greatly impact their adult lives, then teachers can help students move beyond their sometimes naive views of wanting to dismiss specific skills because they may or may not need them. Instead, the experience of learning itself becomes a lifelong skill and can help students to reach their future endeavors.