I took five minutes with one of my Form 5 groups today to reflect on where we were, one month into the school year.
The end of a month is a good time to do that, both in one’s personal and professional life. It’s hard to keep our eyes on our goals all the time. When the days are long and filled with class, sports, clubs, friends and family, when do we get the chance to focus our attention inwards and think about where we stand in relation to our own goals and priorities? And if we haven’t taken the time to outline our own goals and priorities, how can we know how close we are to achieving them?
I asked my students to think about a few things:
- what were the targets they had set themselves at the start of the year? (we did a target-setting exercise in class)
- where did they stand in relation to that target?
- what was working for them with regard to achieving that target?
- what could they change to bring themselves closer to the path that would lead to achieving the target?
- has something small cropped up as a recurring issue that they (and their teachers) aren’t happy about? Usually the small things are the most easily solved and they remove a potential source of conflict before it happens eg getting to class on time, not having chewing gum, wearing the uniform correctly.
For my students, this exercise also meant looking at the calendar and realising we have three and a half weeks to midterm, and then a three week run that brings us to the Christmas exams (a misnomer, as ours take place in November).
I suggested to my students that they take a few minutes this evening to think about what they can do in the three weeks that will bring us to midterm to make the return in November a simple lengthening of their stride rather than a struggle to get to where they want to be.
As students, as teachers, as people going through life, we don’t want to wake up and realise too late that, as James Taylor so eloquently sings, we’ve been “riding on a railroad, singing someone else’s song.”
Think about your own priorities, set targets for yourself and then sing your own song and dance your own dance! (you might surprise yourself…and everybody else)