Practice What You Preach

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This year my eighth grade students are setting reading and writing SMART goals. If you are unfamiliar…SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Each quarter, students reflect on progress and make adjustments or set whole new goals.

As a firm believer in “it is hard to know a thing, without trying the thing”, I set SMART goals along with my students. For my reading goal, I set a volume goal (65 books during the school year). I am well on my way to meeting the goal. But, in all honesty, my goal is not that relevant for me. Without the goal, I would likely read nearly 65 books during the school year. Volume reading is essential for my job if I want to talk about and recommend books to students.

Coinciding with the start of the third quarter, the American Library Association (ALA) announced the winners of awards it sponsors (Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, etc.). The list is a great source for book recommendations. Talking with a student, I saw a new SMART goal taking shape.

I laminated a list of the winning books, cleared a display shelf in my classroom and got my hands on as many of the books as possible (classroom library, school library and I ordered a few). My goal: read at least five titles from the list before the end of the third quarter. When I told students I had added a new SMART goal on top of my existing year-long goal, I found several students wanted to join me. As evidence of reading, the students and I are creating notebook pages for each book we read.

My new SMART goal has created a spark in my steady-as-she-goes reading life. I am reading faster and I can’t wait to read the next book on the list. The rotating titles I see on the classroom “ALA winner” bookshelf means students are reading away too!

Perhaps you want to consider a midyear pick-me-up for your reading life?


6 thoughts on “Practice What You Preach

  1. This post is SO inspiring. Making the goal visible by creating that shelf that you see each day is a brilliant step to ensure you reach this goal. Happy Reading. And do let me know when your Darius notebook page is done. We can compare!!


  2. Leah Graham McFarlane says:

    I’m sure the laminated sign is great, but I happen to know how persuasive YOU can be about a good read! This is an awesome goal for you and them.


  3. I can’t wait to hear about your final reflection after you complete your goal. I want to know what I MUST read and which ones (of the 65) should have been award winning but missed the list this year.


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