As we enter summer, I am reminded of what a powerful season of reflection this can be. So, here are a few thoughts and connecting of a few dots for us to think about, relating to how we cast vision for what success looks like – for us and for how we engage the minds of the young lives (students) we are called to influence.

First, an inspiring photo from one of our newest Strategic Collaborators – 100 Black Men of America, Inc. (YEA!) . It says it all really – “What They See is What They’ll Be.” Think about that – are we living our lives in a way that we want our students to mimic when it comes to setting goals? Do we know where we are going? Do we have our personal and professional vision clearly set, well-articulated and a path thoughtfully set before us to pursue our dreams? This young man in this photo may or may not be able to cast vision for where he wants to be if asked. But that is our job – right?

Second dot — from a colleague and our new Director of Professional Learning on our team Dr. Sonja Alexander – who agrees, and says “Yes absolutely that is our job! As teachers, our job is to help students OWN what they want to learn and then to set learning targets and goals. The student goals should align with our teaching and learning goals and have relevance to their world. Students can do this – I’ve seen it happen first hand!” Sonja is President of Learning Forward Georgia, a published author with Corwin, and a Senior Consultant for Insight Education Group. For many years she led Professional Development for  DeKalb County Schools and is now lending her expertise to us. (Lucky us!)

And finally — there is actually significant research behind this idea of having students cast vision and own what they want to, and need to, learn. I recently was exposed to the work of John Hattie, Professor of Education and Director of Visible Learning Labs in New Zealand. His book Visible Learning by Corwin shares the 15 years of research “involving many millions of students and represents the largest ever collection of evidence-based research into what actually works in schools to improve learning. Areas include influences of the student, home, school, curricula, teacher and teaching strategies.”

In his work, Dr. Hattie shares his discovery that what works best in raising student achievement is “student visible learning” — “the emphasis should be on what students can do, and then on students knowing what they are aiming to do, having multiple strategies for learning to do, and knowing when they have done it.” John further emphasizes, “… what works best for students is similar to what works best for teachers. This includes an attention to setting challenging learning intentions, being clear about what success means...”  (http://www.corwin.com/authors/633599 )

So my thought is – perhaps we first take time this summer break to reflect on what path we are pursuing in our own lives, and what, if any, adjustments we might want to make. (For me, I know what I’m trying to do.. it’s just getting it to scale that’s the issue. I want to support, encourage, inspire and service our nation’s valuable educators and am using The Ignite Show to accomplish my goals at least that’s the path I have chosen to follow to get there!) Then – we re-look at how we might adjust the sharing of our teaching & learning goals with our students in the fall — and in a way that helps them see where they are going!  How could we better engage them in the process of setting the instructional goals and then in understanding the relevance of the outcomes?

Enjoy the break – and your own “visioneering” adventure everyone!