Creating and Publishing SMART goals

It’s 2018 and we are about to embark on the most exciting year yet. How do I know this? I don’t, but I am making it my New Years resolution to be more positive this year. While we are on the subject, what is YOUR New Years resolution? Is it to lose weight? To give up smoking? To go to the gym? Those resolutions are among the most popular given when people asked.

It is also a very well-known idea that resolutions don’t last. By February, the gyms are back to being empty, McDonalds are packed, and I know first hand just how tough it is to give up nicotine. Maybe the problem is that our resolutions are not specific enough. Perhaps they are not realistic, or even attainable. We may not even know if we’ve achieved the goal because we have not set a timetable to it. In other words, our resolutions are not SMART goals.

Let’s take a simple, yet popular resolution and turn it into a SMART goal.

My New Years resolution is to lose weight. During 2017, I lost a total of 80 pounds, and I’d like to be at my goal weight this year.

First, I need to be specific. How much weight do you want to lose? For me, I want to lose 50 pounds. That’s pretty specific. It is also measurable. I will know when I have accomplished my goal. I will reach my goal when I weigh 275 pounds.

The next question is: is the goal achievable? Can I lose 50 pounds? That depends on how much time I have. If I want to lose 50 pounds by January 31, 2018, that goal, although attainable, may not be very realistic. In the past, I lost 54 pounds in 21 days, but I had to fast in order to do it. On the other hand, if I say ‘by December 31, 2018,’ that puts me at roughly one pound a week. That is definitely attainable. In fact, I could do it standing on one leg. I would not be pushing myself to achieve a goal. In order to make a goal attainable and realistic while still providing motivation, the goal must be time-bound.

You must set a time for your goal. Without an end date, you are perpetually trying to achieve your goal and you never end. This is the part where people often go off the rails. If you have set a weight-loss goal but have not made it time-bound, there are a plethora of excuses you can use to derail yourself. My timetable must motivate me to work hard, but it must give me enough time to realistically attain it. With that said, I know I could lose 20 pounds a month. I think I could realistically reach my 50 pound mark by March 31, 2018.

Excellent. I have the basic elements of a SMART goal:

I will lose 50 pounds by March 31.

This SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound. But how will it be accomplished? Do I expect someone to motivate me into doing it? Will I take responsibility for it and motivate myself? Will I employ the genie that lives in the magic lamp? What can I do, or what MUST I do in order to achieve this goal? Will I commit to a gym? Will I hire a personal trainer? A certified nutritionist? Sadly, I can’t afford any of these.

There are two ways I can meet my weight loss goal: diet and exercise.

I follow a two-pronged diet. I eat low-carb and I skip some meals. I plan to skip 12 meals a week. Five of the remaining nine meals that week will be low carb, and four meals will be open but calorically restricted.

I will also need to exercise. For Christmas, I received a FitBit. I am excited to see how many steps I can take just walking around in my classroom. In addition, the middle school for which I teach is beginning a Fitness Club. I’m excited to help facilitate that. I think I can accomplish the goal of hitting 10000 steps 6 days a week. I don’t know my limits since I have not really exercised regularly before. I may have to increase this number if I realize that 10,000 steps is too easy or too difficult. I have a feeling it will be too easy.

Now, I have the structure for my goal and the means to achieve it. It is time to decide which verbs I am going to use. Wording is everything. How something is worded can mean the difference between guilty and innocent. Lives hang in the balance over simple words like “can” and “should” and “might.” I want to make a strong statement. I will accomplish this goal. I have no doubt. So, I’m going to avoid using “maybe” and “try.”

Every week, I will fast 12 meals, eat 5 keto meals and 4 CR meals and will walk 10,000 steps six days a week to lose 50 pounds by March 31, 2018.

This goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. It also provides the means to the end. You can write other longer goals or shorter goals for yourself. See if you can create a different SMART goal every day. Let’s make 2018 the most productive year ever.

If I can convince my students that they have the power to set a goal and attain it, it may help motivate them in other areas. This will be my first lesson when I get back to school. The following day, we will write out our SMART goals using fancy/shmancy paper and put them on display in the hall. They can be reminded everyday that they have a personal SMART goal they are working for. The whole project should take about two days and is a nice gentle way to bring the kids (and myself) back into teaching…er…learning mode.

Luckily, this quarter is narratives, and is my favorite genre to teach. I’m looking forward to making them cry both in the audience and as speakers for their speeches. It’s always fun but sometimes heartbreaking to watch them talk about their own lives.

The Third Quarter Blues

166c1da7-bafb-414c-82d0-93ca5af81212-4645-0000043aefbf4aad_tmpWhat do you do when it’s February and the kids are tired of school? Senioritis has definitely reared its ugly head and the younger kids are squirmy and won’t shut their adorable little mouths! This dilemma is common amongst many teachers.

When I have reached the point in the school year when I have lost what little control I have, I resort to Shock & Awe.

1. Rearrange furniture.

The Friday before, I will rearrange the tables and chairs. They usually sit at large hexagonal tables of six. I will break the tables apart and make rows of trapezoids. If you have desks, you can face the seats a different way. I will pull down bulletin boards and get rid of clutter. This year started with a Pokémon theme and has now devolved into minimum security prison off-White. Memes depicting Armageddon are strewn about.

2. Seating Chart

If it’s the third quarter, I will put them back in Alpha seating with the exception of the two I know can’t sit next to anyone. I have six hextables and two individual desks. Most students sit in groups while two sit in Siberia and Antarctica. Students in Siberia and Antarctica are not allowed human contact. Students who talk to them are sent to lunch detention. Siberia and Antarctica are not a permanent placement, although, interestingly, those students I put in usually ask to remain in because “it helps me to concentrate.”

3. Change topic.

We are about to end Narrative and begin Expository. This is good for me. Now I can get their attention with a lot more lectures and note-taking. This also cuts down on the talking. They can’t talk if you’re walking around talking to them or at them. They should be taking notes.

4. Think…Teacher from The Wall.

A colleague told me the other day that her homeroom was scared because they had not finished their peer review and wondered what I was going to do. I laughed so hard. Good! Maybe they’ll stop talking and get Back To Work. They may get more accomplished if they’d stop playing when they should be writing their narrative.

5. Create a Class Constitution.

This usually happens at the beginning of the year, but I didn’t do it this year. I definitely will next year. First, explain what a constitution is. Tell them about ours if they don’t already know. Then have them brainstorm rules they think they should have to follow. They will usually pick: Respect. Work hard. You may have to guide them to the rules you want. Be patient. Don’t touch. Turn in assignments. Don’t lie. Etc. You may also guide them toward rules YOU should follow. Grading and returning quickly, no yelling, no pointing. Once the whole class agrees, sign it. Then, have the kids sign it. Hold anyone who comes into your room accountable. Talk to your principle. Give her a heads up that when she comes in the room, she will be greeted by a student who will ask her to read the constitution and ask her to sign it. Parents who come in for conferences sign it. Anyone who steps into the room must sign it. This will show the students that their rules matter. They take ownership of those rules. Those rules of respect and tolerance and patience follow them for many more years.

Usually doing all 5 of these things at the same time will confuse them to the breaking point. They won’t know what hit them. They won’t even know where to find you. You’ll be everywhere and nowhere.

If you have any other suggestions, I’d  love to hear about them. Just leave me a message.

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