I don't buy into this whole goal thing, but I do believe that kids need to understand what is expected of them and they need to be held accountable for their actions.
I was very happy when Mervin's mom came to see me with Mervin in tow. We discussed his current performance and what I found when I checked his middle school record on ARIS. We discussed his standardized test performances (which were good) and both came to the conclusion there was no reason Mervin should be failing.
Instead of taking out the goal sheet Mr. AP wanted me to fill in, I took out a blank sheet of paper and dictated the following as Mervin wrote:
I made him sign and date paper, his mom signed it and I signed it and then made copies for each of us. I asked his mom to hang one on the refrigerator and one in his room so he will constantly be reminded what is expected of him.
I, Mervin Lazilump, promise to do all my classwork and all my homework from now on. I will stop complaining and start working. I will copy work from the board so I can have a model to follow when I work on my own. I will complete all exams to the best of my ability.
Mervin completed this activity with no complaints. He spelled every word correctly and inserted every punctuation mark, every capital in the correct place. To me, this was a sign of the true intellect of this young man and I praised him for his work.
I didn't make Mr. AP happy because I didn't use the goal sheets but I set my goals. By having Mervin write them, I made him (I hope) more accountable for them. By having his mom sign, I made sure she is aware of what is expected of him and he is aware that she expects the exact same things from him.
I'm glad I have my age and my seniority to allow me to do what I know is the right thing for my students. The goals have been set, the method of setting them have been different. I just thought of a new goal for myself: To find a way to effectively set goals for my students. Mr. AP will probably still object. I still haven't given him a way to measure my worth with a number.