Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals

After a recent visit to the nail salon, the technician said to me, “I want to be so good at my job that if you walk into another nail salon, they ask, ‘Who did your nails?’” She continued, “I want to be known throughout the area as the best nail technician around. I want people to say, ‘You have to go see Vickie at Queen Nails!’” Talk about a big, hairy, audacious goal. Vickie knows what she wants her endgame to be. She knows to get there she has to put in a lot of effort to be sure that she does an amazing job each time she gives someone a manicure. When I left, I thought I really need to share Vickie’s name. She really does do an amazing job. Was Vickie inspired by her goal? Yes, and so was I. And then I thought, what if all students were equally as passionate about their individual goals?

Oh, my goodness, imagine the possibilities. What if Andrew came to school and said, “Mrs. Laughlin I want to become the best reader in my family. I want people to come to me and say, ‘Andrew you’ve read a lot of books. Can you recommend one for me?’” What if Felicity said, “Mrs. Laughlin my goal is to increase my score on each common formative assessment I take by five points each time.’” What could happen if our students were as excited about their goals as Vickie is about her goal? Wouldn’t we all want to make sure they achieved those goals? Imagine the energy that is now filling your classroom.

Too often in schools, we set the goals for our students. We know how many points they need to show growth, and then we assign a goal for the students. According to Daniel Pink author of Drive “goals people set for themselves and that are devoted to attaining mastery are … healthy” (2009. Pink, Daniel. Riverhead Books. New York, New York) and that we may actually be undermining their success by setting goals for them. Don’t we want the goals our students set to be ones they want to achieve? Don’t we want students who are as enthusiastic as Vickie when it comes to setting and achieving goals? Just imagine their excitement when they achieve a goal they set for themselves.

You can do it! You can work with your students to set their own big, hairy, audacious goals. Like Vickie, the students need to know that each day what they do will lead them closer to meeting their goal. Let me know how the goal setting goes. You can find me on Twitter @kim_laughlin.

Kim Laughlin, Leader, Assistant Principal, Taylor Mill Elementary


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