The biggest hurdle in transitioning from Middle School to High School is the lacking set of student skills possessed by incoming Freshmen. Students come in failing to appreciate the importance of homework, struggle to think independently, cannot communicate mathematical thinking, and are easily frustrated to the point of quitting.
This observation is not a knock on the students’ experiences in Middle School. It is entirely likely that the brain of a 12 to 14 year old cannot develop these skills.
In the upcoming 2019/20 school year I will be running an experimental program where I use SMART Goals focused on student skills to hasten the development of those lacking student skills. The pay-off could be huge…the development of quality student skills would transcend the classroom, even school. Ultimately, student skills are goal-oriented problem solving and personal management skills.
Here’s how it is going to work. During the first week of school I will teach students what SMART Goals are (read about them here if you don’t know: https://www.yourcoach.be/en/coaching-tools/smart-goal-setting.php). We will practice setting small SMART Goals in order to learn what is required, and how to foster them.
During the first week I will also teach students what quality student skills are. I’ve made a reference sheet of what they are, what they look like in action, and how they’re beneficial.
Perhaps the most important thing taught in the first week will be how motivation drives engagement. If a student is deeply engaged in their studies, they’ll persevere and be successful. The two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic, are directly related to the quality of engagement. A student motivated by reward, or fear, from grades is extrinsically motivated. They’ll easily give up and will engage in their work at a shallow level. Their mindset is to complete required work. A student that is intrinsically motivated is motivated to learn. They engage deeply and seek learning. They persevere and find learning opportunities in their work.
At the end of the first week of school students will draft individual SMART Goals that focus on student skills. I have created a four-week long form where students will be guided through the reflection, monitoring and fostering required to have those goals come to fruition.
If you’d like to see the documents I’ve created, they are here. Here is the Student Skill Sheet: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TCDKiwWrU-Ycoc1JILbOVd_y0f5_VkxR/view?usp=sharing
Here is the Smart Goal Planner: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mrZtEM3sAUcYkU5pxLdatnyn9DjVqT4k/view?usp=sharing
If you’d like to follow along with how this goes, you can read my blog: https://onteachingmath.com/home/blog/