There is no solution in education. I am fully aware of that, with millions of students with millions of backgrounds how could anyone actually believe that they have the answer to education. If you honestly think you have figured it all out, it is probably time to retire. That being said, this is just a strategy, a strategy to help students become invested in their own education, lives and future.
For many children, the idea of having dreams is considered unrealistic. Children, especially children from disadvantaged homes, believe that they have very little control over what will happen to them or how their lives will turn out. These children often believe, the phrase ‘what will be will be’; they see very little connection between their actions and the impact it makes on their own future.
It is an unfortunate reality that many students will move through the education system and on to life just taking what they are given, without any real understanding that they are in control of their own lives and can create their own future. When prompted, my students are more likely to believe the phrase, “If it was meant to be, it will be” than “I can make my dreams come true”. It is heartbreaking when you think about it, these children believe that fate has more control over their lives than they do. Which was a major factor in the development of the following strategy.
The strategy is called DARING Moments, the idea being that Dreams Are Real and I Need Goals to achieve them. If we can help our students understand that their dreams truly are achievable, we can help them make steps toward becoming the person they want to be. When children recognize that to have any success in life, steps must be followed, goals must be set and work has to be done, they can start making the decisions necessary to create change in their own lives.
The first DARING Moment will take more time and planning than the rest, but it will set the stage for what will come. During this first meeting, you inspire your students to realize that they are in control of their own lives and they have the ability to change the future ahead of them. This is how it began in my room:
Hey guys, I want to start something new. I want us all to take a moment to think about our dreams, our goals and our futures. I was watching a show on ESPN and they were interviewing Shaquille O’Neal. He was explaining that he has been making and achieving goals since he was six years old. He actually said that he had an alphabet of goals; meaning that for every letter of the alphabet, he had a goal that he had set for himself.
You know, when you think about it, the only way that a person can ever achieve their dreams is to set goals, then actually take steps to achieve those goals. Today, I want us to stop and think about our dreams and begin setting goals to achieve those dreams.
From this point on, we will stop at the beginning of every month and have a DARING moment. DARING means, “Dreams Are Real, I Need Goals”. We will spend time acknowledging our dreams, setting goals, analyzing our goals and the steps we are taking to achieve them.
After the introduction of the DARING Moment, the students and I analyzed a dream that I have. We walked through the goals I will need to achieve to reach my dream and they brainstormed the next steps I need to take. I promised my students that on the first day of the next month, we would revisit my dreams, goals and next steps and analyze if I have made any progress.
I then asked my students to complete a Google form identifying their dreams, the goals they need to set and the steps they will take to achieve their dreams and goals. I reviewed the students’ information and was delighted, heartbroken and filled with a stronger desire to continue with this strategy. The first day of every month we pause and have a DARING Moment. We think deeply about our dreams and goals. I truly believe that by bringing focus, energy and life to my students dreams, they will achieve them.
*I plan to continue to update this strategy with materials and supplemental information.