Have you heard of the Marshmallow Experiment? The one where Walter Mischel from Stanford University offered four-year-old participants one marshmallow now, or two in fifteen minutes if they could resist the temptation to eat the first.
People only really commit to pursuing a goal when they can see a significant benefit of their personal investment. The type of investment a person makes will be contextual but, generally, committing to a goal requires a perceived benefit that is valued at twice that of any perceived cost.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said ‘a goal without a plan is just a wish’.
When we set a goal, we establish clear and compelling benefits. Setting a goal creates focus and inspires commitment. But setting a goal is not an end in itself: it is the beginning of a process.
The word agency has different meanings in different contexts. In this context, agency refers to the ability to influence, act or intervene.
We often question the purpose of what we are doing when we hit a bump in the road, or things don’t seem to be going right. It’s usually rhetorical in nature and indicates increasing frustration and a growing sense of futility.
For most of us, life is busy. Getting everything done on time is a constant challenge, especially when juggling competing demands.
In schools, this pressure seems to accumulate throughout the year and reaches a crescendo when many demands fall at the same time, resulting in levels of stress and anxiety that make our jobs even more difficult.
Each of us has a (metaphorical) mountain we would like to climb. Indeed, some of us may have many.
But our best hopes are sometimes compromised by our ability to bridge the void between where we currently are, and where we aspire to be.
Setting and attaining goals can drive personal and professional growth, empowering us to become more confident, resilient and self-determined.
Some people, however, are more effective at setting and attaining goals.
Resilience, the ability to bounce back in the face of challenge and adversity, is essential for personal growth and development.
Resilience provides us the capacity to accept challenges and manage the impact of adversity. It promotes survival in the most trying circumstances and promotes wellbeing under better circumstances.
Many of us look to change our behaviours through setting goals: losing weight, getting fit, reading more.
Setting goals is a great start to developing new and more desirable behaviours, but committing to actions that will achieve them can be a little more challenging. The more we procrastinate, the harder it becomes, and we revert to the same old habits that result in precisely the behaviours we sought to address by setting our goals. Research indicates we only do what we say we will do 50 per cent of the time.
As a rule, vague goals are more difficult to achieve. They tend to lack focus and are hard to align with actions that result in their attainment. It is also more difficult to monitor progress towards their achievement.
Habits are formed when we practise behaviours repetitively over time and they become routine. We carry out many of these routines subconsciously.
Take driving a car, for example. As learner drivers, we can be overwhelmed by the complexity of skills needed to drive; but as we become more experienced, we use many of those skills subconsciously.
Mentoring and coaching are terms often used interchangeably. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but they are different. Working with a mentor or coach can support professional learning - which will provide the best support will be context dependent
Feedback is critical to promoting (professional) learning and teaching - it’s the foundation upon which we build improvement. Interestingly, most of us find it hard to receive, or even harder to give feedback. On top of that, many teachers identify they would like to receive more feedback around their practice.
Why are some people more successful than others in achieving their goals? You might think they just work harder, are naturally smarter or even, perhaps, just set themselves less ambitious goals to ensure success. But is it really that simple?
Have you ever felt a little anxious when faced with the task of providing evidence of your professional practice? You are not alone. Many professionals and educators like you find it challenging! Here are some simple suggestions to make collecting and reviewing evidences less daunting:
Working towards a goal requires commitment and resilience. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy; it is almost a given - it takes hard work. On this point, almost everyone can agree. What we tend to underplay; however, is the strategic planning required to achieve our goals.
Great teachers know exactly how to grasp an audience’s attention by using captivating narrative to tell a story. As students, our most memorable learning experiences are often associated with teachers who have been able to sustain a consistent, engaging and inspiring narrative.
People who believe they can develop their talents through committing to new learning over time have what Stanford Professor Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset”. On the other hand, people who believe their talents cannot be developed are identified by Dweck to be demonstrating a “fixed mindset”.