The Warrior Way

Warriors: Make It Happen!

8. Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback

The generalizations related to setting objectives explain that goals should be clear and specific, but also flexible enough for students to personalize the goals. Consider the objectives you are expected to use, that is, those provided by our school, district, or state. To what extent do you feel they meet the criteria of clarity, specificity, and flexibility?

Example: I have stated that I expect our professional community to participate in this book study and to blog about the book; I did not clearly define the expectation of the length of the blog, or give an exact due date. How have you set professional goals on accomplishing this task? You may answer this also, or ignore it. I just wanted to get you thinking about some of “our” objectives. You may focus on state TEKS and TAKS or anything of the like! :)

41 Responses to “8. Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback”

  1.   Donna W. Says:

    If the educator is flexible then the BISD goals and objectives can be too. There is always a way to make goals/objectives “your own” and make them fit into your teaching style and strategies. Maybe it is that creative side of me that makes it happen, but I haven’t in 30 years had difficulty in making the goals/objectives of BISD work in my chosen subject matter.

    My objective for the professional blog? I await the next question – I finished the book so long ago that I just want all the questions, so I can get my blogging assignment completed.

  2.   Cantrell Says:

    First, I’ve made it a point to answer all of the questions on this blog because I am A) an eager rookie, B) don’t know anything different, and C) enjoy blogging. : )

    I’ve re-read the first question about 10 times and still don’t quite know how to answer it as a first-year teacher (I’ve stared at the screen for a good 12 minutes now). In my opinion, I think the mandated criteria of BISD or the state is well within the reach of educators. While some of us (cough) may not require instruction surrounding a state mandated test, we should have all learned that LIFE in general requires flexibility and creativity on our part. I don’t believe any of the objectives we face are given like directions to a cabinet you bought at Home Depot, so there’s always room to adapt and personalize.

  3.   angel Says:

    I have to admit the goals for BISD teachers have become quite overwhelming in the past few years, but I also realize they are needed. I do think the goals that are asked of me are flexible to a point. I feel sometimes as if I’m focusing on my “professional” goals more than my “teaching” goals. But I’m still here, so I guess it all works out in the wash.
    As for the goals I set in the classroom, I feel fortunate to be in the ELA department where my TEKS are more broad than other curriculum. I love having the opportunity to teach PAP, where my goal setting can be very flexible. The students know what is expected of them, and they usually can find far higher levels of success by using their own goal setting than if I set them for them. I do think my on level classes need a little more structure and consistency in the classroom. Still, I can still be flexible with writing styles, languate limitations, etc.

  4.   Elizabethcumbie Says:

    Yes, I typed up this long response and forgot to type the antispam word- ugh! Let’s see if I remember what I wrote so well a minute ago . .. .

    I still believe we all have a great deal of flexibility in terms of meeting our objectives. In my own little world, I approach each week of lesson plans with the objective in front of me. I always ask myself, “How can I make this week of lessons more engaging to the kids? How can I jazz it up?” I am thankful for the flexibility we have as educators.

    Maximizer and Activator are in my top 5 strengths, so I am just wired to take on tasks when they are assigned to me. Like Donna, I read the book a long time ago, so not it’s just finishing the blogging assignment. I really enjoy reading what everyone posts!

  5.   Lynn Breitinger Says:

    BISD goals are very specific i.e. By the year 2010, we will have 90% passing TAKS and our drop-out rate will be lower. Great goals! How do we jazz that up? How do we make that our own? I feel we have been given lots of room to accomplish this. We need to think outside the box and be creative in accomplishing these goals.
    My class room goals are pretty general: Do your best, give me 100%, do your homework and pass TAKS. Piece of cake! :)
    While I think CMP is a great program, it has taken away some of the creativeness and freedom I once enjoyed. However, I still manage to put my stamp on it whenever possible.

  6.   gbergman Says:

    My response today is brought to you by Sierra Mist Free. If I am reading the context clues right, along with my inference skills, I am led to believe another name for “caffeine” is “mist.” Who knew?
    Objectives we are required to teach are clear, flexible and way to specific, in my opinion. When I try to line up my TEKS with an assignment and list those TEKS, I could go on and on and on with what TEKS I’m covering. So, when I am trying to give feedback, it can sometimes be frustrating when a kid is “low.” They may have blown 10 of the TEKS the assignment included, but it would be WWE Raw to tell a kid specifically all the things they don’t know. I try to give one compliment and no more than two areas to work on specifically. Teaching kids to write essays is a beast anyway, especially when the almost half the TEKS or more fit in any essay writing process.
    As far as the blog, I agree with Cantrell that I like doing it. This is my first “go” at blogging and I’m having a blast. The goals I set for myself were to try to get my responses done within two weeks of question postings. Myself, I’m glad there was not a “the response should be this long” because I hate when people write just to fill space. While that may be necessary for kids to have a specified response length, I think we can expect a faculty to be follow the honor system in reading causing responses to indicate a true look at our thoughts instead of a true look at “who can say what in 90 words or more.”

  7.   Karla Says:

    I feel the goals set forth by BISD and the state are laid out very clearly. I do feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of expectations heaped on teachers, but I am a mult-task, task driven person so most of the time I just do my best with meeting every expectation. Some are flexible, some are not and that is just life. Like Angel, I’m very thankful that the ELA/Reading TEKS are more broad than other subject areas because they give me the freedom to be more flexible in my planning and goal setting with my students, as well as, professionally.
    I like to establish goals with my students so that they will understand the process of learning and why “it” all truly does matter in the grand scheme of life.


  8.   Amy Gallegos Says:

    I too think that the BISD and WMS objectives are stated specifically and clearly. I am the type of person who loves specifics. I want to feel as though I know what is expoected, and I try to never fall short of that expectation. When I am feeling overwhelmed I simply prioritize my time along with making lists…lots of lists… written out on sticky notes all over my desk. To me, there is nothing better than crossing something off my “to do” list…love it!

    As far as the blogging assignment goes. I try to dedicate one conference a week to blog as much as I can. If I end up getting to far behind, I sacrifice 10 minutes at the end of my work day to keep up….it’s all about priorities!

  9.   Vanessa Seale Says:

    I have learned that showing students their objectives is a must. I give them their TEKS and put them in student friendly language that will mean something to them. My students, to my surprise, are interested to see that I do not just make up whatever I want to teach them, but that there are guidelines that have been set for them. This make students more accountable for specific skills that they should be learning. It should become less about earning a particular grade in a subject or even a single assignment but more about mastering objectives and skills.

    I think our BISD and state Language Arts objectives are clear, specific, and flexible at once. I love how in Language Arts you can take an objective and there are a million different ways you can teach that objective. I like the variey and to be able to think of the different ways I can reach the different learners.

  10.   Deanna Boyd Says:

    I think the objectives and goals of the district and state are very specific and clear. Thank goodness we have flexibility to teach those goals and objectives in a manner that we as instructors see most beneficial to our students. The only issue I have with the objectives and goals of the state is that the History TAKS test is at the end of April or first of May and I have to essentially be through my entire curriculum for the year by that time because my students are tested on everything I am suppose to teach during the year. (even though there is another 4 or 5 weeks left to the school year). This often means teaching concepts out of context because they are going to be tested. As a History teacher I want students to get the big picture and understand why our country developed the way it has. Teaching concepts out of context does not always lead the students to see the big picture. I want the students to not just know the facts but to understand the why behind the facts.
    I look at the objectives I need to teach by each six weeks. If I looked at the whole year I would get overwhelmed. I use a checklist per six weeks to make sure I am covering all the objectives and TEKS.

  11.   Arlene Says:

    Since I am now the transition inclusion teacher, my goals and expectations are different. I go into the classrooms of my transition students and try to assist their teacher for that period. My main goal and expectation for my students is for them to improve their behavior. The main goal is for them to remain in regular classes with my support. This has been a difficult start of the school year for me because I have to figure out this new schedule.

  12.   cori mccauley Says:

    I am struggling a bit with this question. I think the state, district,and school objectives are all clear and specific, yet flexible. One of the state objectives and one I hold dear, is for all kids to learn to be physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally healthy. That can look a bit different for each person. There is flex room because one child’s activities may look different from the next. They all eat differently and handle stress in a variety of ways. My goal is to teach them ways and activites be adopt in to their lifestyle, so they can be fit kids as well as adults.

  13.   Diane Kissel Says:

    Each of our students who receives Special Education support has a Modification/Accommodation plan. There is clarity on the IEP document regarding assignments, assessments, materials, behavior and assistive technology. Sometimes there is very precise wording so that exactly what is required is clear:
    Other times flexibility is afforded:
    ORAL TESTS (has varying levels of support and delivery)
    I appreciate the fluidity of this seemingly rigid document that, with careful consideration, can best meet the needs of so many students.

  14.   donna herndon Says:

    I like having goals and I think our students also like having them, whether it be the state goals or classroom goals. GOals give a defined place to where you need to be when you finish a task, whether it be in learning a new subject or attempting an activity.
    Flexibility is a big key word with me because I myself like to be able to show creativity within a set of goals. When I taught reading last year, I would let the students do lots of projects that showed their knowledge and laos let them show their creativity. IT had a goal at the end – showing what they had learned, but it also allowed them to explore their creative self.

  15.   Brian Farquhar Says:

    Having goals provides direction and focus. I believe BISD’s goals and objectives are stated and quite clear. These are goals and objectives that we, as teachers, are constantly trying to achieve. Without these goals and objectives we would not all be on the same page as we try to get these students to learn and excel. I personally like to have clearly stated goals and objectives for myself and my profession so that I can be a better teacher, focused on the tasks at hand with the end result be the attainment of the BISD and Watauga Middle School’s goals.

  16.   Nyvall Says:

    The option of flexibility is extremely important to me to be able to make my job my own. I have the guidelines set by the district and the administrator from both campuses. I appreciate the fact that they are happy as long as the job is done and done well. The flexibility allows me to be able to function on multiple campuses with different campus plans and demographics that need to be met. I also like the clarity with which the PDAS is stated. Each objective is broken down into parts. Each part is then scored and if the administrator sees fit, you recieve specific comments.

  17.   Joe Ward Says:

    Watauga Middle school has set forth many goals for many different things. Goals give us a start and a finish. They provide focus. I like to refer to many of these goals as S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound). These are goals that are alligned and consistant with the vision and mission of our campus. Raising our TAKS scores, incresing attendance, lowering failure rates; these goals are all clearly ststed and I feel that they are being taken seriously as a staff and we are going down that path…that path of success.

  18.   todd Says:

    As a teacher I feel that goal setting in my classroom is something that I must do and also something I must let the students have freedom with. Teachers can have much influence on what students focus on and how much a student should be able to do. There are certainly limits to that influence however. Children must ultimately be able to take ownership of whatever their goal is and personalize it or else it has little meaning if it comes from an outside source such as a teacher setting a goal for a student or a class. We as teachers can want it for children as much as possible, but we have no power if we can not motivate the children to want it for themselves.

  19.   HBlum Says:

    Goals are important though in my classroom tend to be a bit nebulous because I teach GT 4 hours a day and I suppose I have done the (gasp) unthinkable and ass-umed that they all have goals. As an identified “gifted” person right here in this district I have plenty, so I figure they must have them, too. Right? I tend to bulldoze right on in, objectives written on the board and occasionally pause for reaction and discussion of where they are headed. Heh. Whoops. I get so excited.

    For my on-level students, I discuss district expectations more specifically with them–especially during TAKS season. Not because I believe the TAKS should have so much power over what happens to them but because it DOES. If they do not pass in 7th grade, they may not pass in 8th grade and then they are in a pickle.

    I enjoy teaching Language Arts because while the state has laid out its expectations of what 7th graders should know, there are, as Vanessa said so eloquently, a plethora of ways to impart that information to the kids. I dig that variety.

  20.   Gail Bailey Says:

    I think the objectives for BISD are needed. I do not think the State objectives are reasonable. I would love for some of those Senators and Representitives to work with a teacher for a six week period and then go back to passing bills.
    No matter what the criteria is the teacher meets that criteria. I think Special Ed. has some nitwit criteria that just makes us work around the system instead of with the system. The needs of the Special Ed student is not always in the interest of all of our students. However, I, as a teacher make the adjustments and still try to teach to the need of the student.

  21.   anderton Says:

    I am often unsure of our science objectives within our science curriculum. Some units are very specific, others are extremely vague. I fret each time I get to a vague unit, therefore, I would venture to say I need specific guidlines regarding what I am teaching. In comparing some of these vague units with other teachers, I find we are often focusing on different things. That’s “my” professional issue. Switching gears…I have found when I write the specific objective of the day (something I ALWAYS forget to do) and read and discuss it with them, we are all able to focus on our task at hand a little better. The ADHD side of me needs this.

  22.   suzanne Says:

    Here is number 8

  23.   Diane Cowell Says:

    I had great plans to get this done over the summer, but here I am only on chapter 8. Then I had great plans to do one chapter a day after I received the print out in the faculty meeting. Once again, here I am on chapter 8. I am so thankful for the flexibility. However, my personality type would have been better served with specific guidelines. Oh well, I will get it done.
    As for my class, I feel like the feedback I give the kids has really helped them this year. There are certain activities that we correct and reteach as soon as everyone is done. Like our DOL and paragraph editing. It is interesting to watch them go, “Oh sheesh. I knew that!” Then every week we chart our yearly average where we have established the red line of 70 and a green line at our own personal goal. It is a great self-motivator. If the line dips down, we talk about what caused that and what we can do differently this upcoming week.

  24.   Inita Says:

    I agree as well that the BISD and WMS objectives are stated specifically and clearly. I also like clarity and specific criteria what is expected. During my art class I make sure that students understand lesson goals and expectations. In my art class I give immediate feedback on the next day. Together we discuss wrong answers and correct them. In addition, after major project I practice students’ own feedback, or a classmate critique.

  25.   Sherri Says:

    Math goals and objectives are clear and specific for the district. Connected Math provides hands on activities and numerous opportunities for students to develop higher order thinking skills. The math curriculum has teacher resources that allow students to participate in a variety of assessment options. The curriculum provides a Special Education Assessments for those needing modification and/or accommodations. Clarity, specificity, and flexibility are clear and easily personalized to meet the needs of every student.

  26.   Eric Says:

    In the AES lab, there are broad and specific goals and objectives presented to the students. These are reinforced continuously during the rotation. Students have even learned that the pre-test is a guidepost for what they are expected to learn as they go through the unit. Feedback is immediate and clear. Journal questions are graded as they are answered and the unit is concluded with a complete evaluation. It is a real boost when I have teachers at the high school tell me that they can tell the students that have been in my class at the middle school by their skill level.

    I find that the students in my high school classes are still struggling with the concept of being given projects with clear and concise objectives and timelines. I believe this has more to do with their level of maturity and time-management skills than anything else.

    For myself, I appreciate the flexibility that has been given on this objective. There are far too many variables and extraordinary circumstances that can come into account to be too rigid.

  27.   Deborah Says:

    The goals and objectives for my course are clearly stated. There is also the understanding that you can adapt to meet the needs of your students. It is ok if I spend 5 days instead of 3 on a topic. My concern is that they get the information that is the most relevent and beneficial to them.

  28.   Julie P Says:

    I am good at setting objectives for myself but I think I’m not as good as I should be at setting them out properly for my students. Our TEKS can be so general in some ways, yet so specific in others, and I had not thought of having a student determined objective beyond the TEK being studied. At the start of the year, I ask the students to tell me one thing they want to learn this year, but I really liked the way the chapter suggested having the students suggest a learner derived objective at the start of each unit. If I can see their objectives, I can make sure that MY objectives are flexible enough to meet theirs. This should help to make the student more invested in the learning process.

    I totally agree about feedback. I’m like the teacher in the example – I don’t take 6 weeks to get things back, but it’s certainly not a 24 hour turn around either. I try to make comments on papers as much as possible so that the students aren’t wondering where they went wrong. I guess improving my feedback times should be goal I set for myself.

  29.   Coach R Says:

    I believe the learning goals set by the math curriculum are too focused on a narrowly defined outcome, it limits learning potential. If my students are shown one example of successful learning it will inhibit the possible range of artifacts students would create in their authentic construction of knowledge. For example, if they were to understand that the goal is for them to learn how a piston works, they may fail to learn its relationship to other parts in an engine.

    I agree with Todd that students need to have some sort of ownership to their learning. If students are encouraged to personalize the my goals, then learning will likely increases. Student ownership enhances learning focus. Studies show the benefits of students setting sub-goals derived from the larger teacher-defined goals (Bandura & Schunk, 1981; Morgan, 1985). In the beginning of the school year I give “contracts” in developing student ownership and completion of goals. This contract is simply an agreement between the student and I for a grade the students will receive if they meet established criteria.

  30.   Teresa hughes Says:

    The objectives of sight reading music provided by our district and state meet the criteria of clarity and specificity. The objectives are clearly spelled out. We are expected to teach our choirs how to read rhythms. Our district uses the McKose system of counting rhythms. We teach pitches using solfege hand signs. Each note name is assigned a hand sign and pitch. Students are taught to read and sing the rhythms and pitches of music.
    Students first learn these sight reading skills in large groups. As they master the skills they practice/perform them in smaller groups. They eventually will perform the skills individually.
    Students are provided flexibility in choosing the songs they would like to learn. They can sight read the piece and basically use the skills they’ve developed to learn a piece of music of their choosing. They also use these skills to create and compose their own music.

  31.   Susan Youngblood Says:

    I believe our district goals are clear, specific and mostly flexible. I am that inductive reasoner and I think that there is often more than one way to “skin a cat,” so flexibility to me is very important. I do like clearly specified goals and specifics however.

    I’d be less likely to say that the TEKs for science are clear or specific. Often, prior to our district stepping in to standardize the curriculum, too many variations occured in what was being taught in the district science classes. This led to some lively conversations when we did attempt to standardize the curriculum. Many teachers wanted to keep the favorite lesson even when it didn’t fit the objectives.

    As for my blogging. I set the goal of having the blogging finished over the summer (I thought that was an option). I read the book quickly, highlighting as I went. I was on top of the blogging until school and BSF started…then it was all over but the crying. Now since my second job (BSF) if over, I am back on the blog. I’m glad that I’d highlighted the chapters, it made reconnecting with my thoughts much easier. I will be finished with every question before Christmas break. That’s a promise, (and I know and expectation)!

  32.   Margaret Willoughby Says:

    I believe the TEKS for seventh grade math need to be more specific. Last year, another teacher and I pored over our TEKS trying to determine whether or not the distributive property was supposed to be taught. While I do appreciate the opportunity to be flexible, I would welcome more clarity and specificity in some areas.

    My goals for the Marzano project are to finish on time and to discuss some of the strategies that seem especially important for math with my colleagues.

  33.   cmwilson Says:

    Everything that I do in my classroom is flexible and hopefully creative for the users. I have spent 25 years without too many constraints in my curriculum if and when I did get curriculum to use. I enjoy changing up what the students do, trying to stretch them to use different software to get the job done. I love having freedom and work on accepting constraints from the different departments I must answer to or from whom I request materials. Flexibility is my middle name, patience is my gameplan.

  34.   Don Zolidis Says:

    I think I do well with specific, clear, and flexible goals in some areas of instruction and not as well in others.

    As far as a performance goes: students were allowed to suggest what parts that would like, and for the most part, I was able to accommodate their requests. So students were able to set their own level of difficulty: not everyone is up for learning and performing a lead role. For some of our kids, simply getting on stage in costume was a major triumph. One of our state goals is a performance goal, but the level of difficulty of the performance is not stated.

    At North Oaks recently, I made the mistake of not setting behavioral goals. Not only do I want kids to learn how to learn lines, project, be interesting, engaging, and funny, but I also need them to learn the code of rules that governs the theatre. Sometimes I take it for granted that kids know not to argue with a director, or to be quiet backstage, or to be focused in certain situations. Well, I didn’t make that as explicit as I ought to have, and as a result, the play was going to be a mess. So then I explained to them that I wasn’t only their teacher, I was their director as well, and a result I had the power to fire them. So I fired them all. (then we went on to have a second chance, but I made my point.)

  35.   travis Says:

    Goals provide direction and focus. And as Joe pointed out they should be SMART. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound.) Goals lead way to communication. We must communicate these goals to our students which I have mentioned provide direction and focus. I have learned and applied all of the above from my studies elsewhere. I have also had my students fill out a personalized goal sheet at the beginning of the year and we review it each six weeks. It is helpful for those who care. What I have learned and want to apply through this reading is the importance and success of using these personalized and sub goals.

  36.   Stephanie Says:

    The state standards, the TEKS, for ELA are fairly generic. I haven’t spent as much time looking at the other contents, for obvious reasons, but I think ELA’s offer a lot of flexibility. Almost too much. We are allowed to adapt the TEKS to our teaching, but when they are the almost the same for three grade levels, they lack clarity and specificity. I feel that they could give more direction for each grade level. Maybe the new ones for next year will do so.

  37.   sandersonsagas Says:

    I think the objectives and goals of the district and state are very specific and clear. In history we have to cover specific content for “the test”. The amount of subject matter is immense and leaves little time for delving into any one topic for much creative “hands on” learning. The issue I have with the objectives and goals of the state is that the History TAKS test is at the end of April or first of May and we have to be through my entire curriculum for the year by that time. Our students are tested on everything we am supposed to teach during the year. (even though there is another 4 or 5 weeks left to the school year).

    As a History teacher I want students to get the big picture and understand why our country developed the way it has. I try to teach citizen responsibility and how the character of the people we study shaped our country. That is the reason I dress “in character” to model it for my students. I want the students to not just know the facts but to understand the why behind the facts.
    I look at the objectives I need to teach by each six weeks. My lesson plans and goals are centered around that.

  38.   Angelique Says:

    Flexibility is an absolute must when you work with children. When you have such a diverse ability-leveled classroom, you have to be prepared to adapt to the needs of the group…some faster, some slower. You must also be prepared to adapt to the everyday occurrences that may come up during a classroom session. For example, in reading a novel, a discussion could take place that could prolong the lesson.

  39.   Katie Zeier Says:

    BISD and TEK clearly state the objectives for all three levels of band students. What I love about band is all the flexibility we receive to get the objective taught. Also, our objectives are layered and extended through the three years.

    To help our students with goals we create an objective sheet for each six weeks. We teach all the objectives on the sheet and evaluate through quizzes and tests. To give the students flexibility, they can pass off an objective at the end of class on certain days. At the end of the six weeks, if they meet the set number they are rewarded with a pass off party. (and they are better at their instrument, but this does not seem to be the where their motivation stems from…)

  40.   Engelby Says:

    Proverbs 1:2-5,7
    for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young — let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance — The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

    I feel the state’s TEKS for middle school instrumental music sets a standard and allows for flexibility and creativity. It’s hard sometimes to swallow that your fate lies in the hands of 12 year olds — esp at U.I.L. Concert & Sightreading Contests. Did you set forth a plan that was clear, consistent, and leads to success for your group? Did you identify and meet the goals your students should master? So many times, the end result is in the hands of people that supply their SUBJECTIVE view of your performance, sometimes praise, sometimes sour. Ultimately, it’s how you planned for any and every inevitable variable. Teachers that have a plan and a clear vision of what that ideal standard of excellence should be seem to always do well by their students.

  41.   aallibon Says:

    Because of my personality type (ISFJ) I love rules and expectations clearly defined and am a master of meeting those. (For those of you who think, “yeah, right lady…your blogging is a month overdue….you hush…..) I respond well to those environments and expectations. I find that students do, too, and when objectives are not clearly stated, the learning can be smattererd all over the place. I must say that it is easy to feel micro-managed in education today because of all of the pressure put on teachers to generate test scores. I think flexiblity has gone out the window. It just feels like a pressure cooker for many teachers (especially math and science) most days. I think where our school, district, state, and nation could see things differently is to hold the parents of our students more accountable for what goes on in a child’s education at home. The family unit is not what it was 40 years ago – both parents working, more single parents – but educators are where the sole source of blame falls for the dumbing down of America. I am hopeful as Obama takes office that something will give in the next four years.

    As for blogging, I appreciate the extra time Shannon gave me to finish since I joined the faculty after the assignment had been given and am part time at WMS. I have loved reading everyone’s responses and getting to know folks through this blog.

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