Monday, May 25, 2009

Another May newsletter

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe" (Anatole France).

According to Wikipedia, Anatole was a french novelist, born 1844. He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1921 and died in 1924. I'm telling you this to fulfil a promise I made at assembly when I used the above quote. That promise was to find out who Anatole France was! I'm very fond of this quote as it incorporates each of the four elements I think are essential to success - dreaming, planning, acting and believing!

It's nearly June and a good time for us to do a bit of a stock take on progress through our goals so far. Thus we may avoid any mid-year slump in energy, enthusiasm or perseverance. Our students hear a lot about goals and targets and the danger is that they go through a process of sensory overload. As an educator the trick is to keep a balance of having the concept of goals in the students' consciousness without turning them off. All students have their three poutama goals that they should keep in mind and review about now. How are you progressing towards them? Are the targets realistic? What have you done to realise your targets? Do you need to adjust any targets?

The school, of course, has its goals and targets for the year. To refresh memories these relate to: raising Maori achievement via the Te Maunga Tuu professional development initiative; implementing the New Zealand Curriculum; an emphasis on extending each student to reach their potential (with particular emphasis on improving pass rates and the numbers of merit and excellence endorsements); and continuing the focus on differentiated learning, with an emphasis on year 9 and year 10.

The individual departments use the school goals as a springboard for their specific goals. From these come the staff's individual goals that are discussed in appraisal interviews.

Even the Senior Management Team has its targets. Every 5 weeks we develop our targets and then every three days we discuss these in our strategic planning meetings. Our current targets focus on school wide appraisal, the New Zealand Curriculum and our Te Maunga Tuu initiatives. As you can imagine we know our targets thoroughly. Students could take a lead from this. I often advocate that students write out goals in large type and pin them to the fridge or the mirror in their room. Anywhere that they can see them everyday. If they are always visible and therefore always in your mind, the chances that you will achieve them are greatly enhanced.

As parents and caregivers we also have goals and targets. They can be modest in size (washing the car regularly, seeing sons and daughters play sport for the school and so on) or a 'go for gold' type (planning an overseas holiday, changing careers, running the Boston marathon for instance). How many of us share these goals and targets with the family? If we don't, maybe we should. Let's aim to demonstrate the power of achieving goals to our students. I'd like to encourage you to share your goals, as I have aimed to do here.

"Nine tenths of education is encouragement" (Anatole France).

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