“What does it matter if a child can read on level if that same child does not believe she has the power and agency? A child in passive receipt of learning will be in passive receipt of life.” Kristine Mraz & Christine Hertz, A Mindset for Learning
I walked up to the desk, soaked with fresh sweat. I needed to know how close I was to hitting 250 camps. “Hey Michael! I gotta check in, what am I at?” I blurted out. “When was the last time you checked in, yesterday?” he chuckled as he made his way to the computer. His fingers clicked on the keyboard. His eyes searched the screen for the information I needed. “OK…drum roll…2..38. You are at 238. You need twelve more. You’ve got two weeks. You can do it.” I appreciated his quick calendar math and walked away calculating myself. In about ten steps, I realized that yes, I could do it. I’d have to double up a day or two, but I could keep my eyes on the prize, the goal, of hitting 250 camps in 2019, and actually do it. I contemplated my complete crazy state, ok borderline obsession, with hitting the 250, but realized on my way home that my goal was good, it was cultivating my determination.
In the car, on the way home, I thought about what I would do to actually hit that goal of 250. Lost in thought, my mind wandered and I found myself thinking about Michael, a second grade growing reader.
A few days after Thanksgiving break, Michael, had gotten a little off track with his at home reading. He would avoid going to his locker to get his book bag claiming he forgot it or simply blurting out “I didn’t read” with an undertone of frustration. The first few days, I brushed it off. “It’s OK, Michael, it happens. Just read tonight and bring it back tomorrow, we all get back on track.” The scene repeated a few more days and then I began to share the frustration, so I made a call. A quick call home seemed to refocus all involved, because the next morning, as Michael got off the bus, he proclaimed, “Mrs. Sherriff, I read and I’ve got my reading log.” That undertone in his voice screamed pride and accomplishment.
Later that day, Michael and Megan came down to for some reading work. They arrived in the room ahead of me, their book bags were on the table and they were pulling out their logs. “I get two stickers. I read two books.” “I get one.” “How may logs do you have Meg? You’ve got 5 now, right? I think I’ve got 4. I’m almost on 5.” There before my eyes, were two readers talking about their reading. It may not have been actual books or reading work but it was a forward thinking conversation. An exchange that let me know that Michael was back on track.
About thirty minutes later, I handed Michael a book and asked him to whisper read while I worked with Meg. I had one eye and one ear on Meg as she worked through a new word pattern while my other eye and ear on Michael as he dove into his new book. His body was tucked into the table, his arms rested on the book and his head was down in the book. He read three pages and looked up and muttered, “This is a good one. I think I’m gonna read this one two, no three times tonight.”
Goals matter. They hold energy and can build determination. Goals build belief.