Mapping Student Success One goal at a time
by Christine Poindexter | photo by Joshua Dunn
As you have read before in this publication, the mission of Chicago International is to provide, through innovation and choice, a rigorous college-preparatory education that meets the needs of today’s student. This mission requires that, regardless of a child’s current achievement level, Chicago International staff focuses on each student’s academic growth. To do so in an environment where individual performance varies widely within each classroom requires innovative thinking and the implementation of all available resources.
Teachers are vital in helping create a learning environment in which the student is willing to take intellectual risks. 24
One such innovation is the way Chicago International
staff set student-by-student academic goals. Teachers do not solely focus on student achievement at the state benchmark level; more than that, they work with students to become successful in reaching their own performance targets —targets they have set collaboratively with their teachers. To encourage students to take ownership of their learning, most Chicago International students set an individual performance goal at the beginning of the academic year. They work with their teachers to analyze their own performance data and then set challenging yet realistic goals. Chicago International teachers follow best practices in fostering learning in their students by (1) adjusting their teaching methods to fit each child’s needs, (2) allowing student choice within the classroom, (3) building
relationships with students, and (4) providing a platform for discovery and exploration.1 Elaine Glasper, a special education teacher at the Wrightwood campus, is the perfect example of a successful “goal setting” teacher. She has done a phenomenal job helping her students not only set, but also exceed, their personal goals. Ms. Glasper believes that some of her greatest teaching moments have come when supporting students with specific learning challenges. Chicago International teachers try to establish a positive learning environment in which students set personal goals and are provided with curricula that will
support achievement. Research suggests that successful learning environments simultaneously support autonomy and challenge learners. This differs from more traditional instructional environments for at-risk students, which are often teachercontrolled and provide only low-level routine tasks.2 Teachers are vital in helping create a learning environment in which the student is willing to take intellectual risks. With the assistance of teachers, parents, and students, Chicago International is committed to encouraging our students to achieve their own, ever-more challenging goals. LEFT: Teacher, Elaine Glasper, working with CICS Wrightwood students
Staying on Track Elaine Glasper shares tips that will help position students for success
Meet one-on-one with children weekly. “Goals should be set to improve weaker areas and to build upon the strengths of the student.”
Have open dialogue about what performance scores mean to the student in the classroom and at home, not just in school. Encourage each child to set challenging yet realistic goals. “Students should be honest with themselves about their strengths and needs, and set goals based on their achievement level, not another student’s levels.” Ensure that each child understands where they are in meeting their goals and where they aren’t. “Have regular discussions with students regarding their progress towards their goal.” Use story maps, or mind maps, to integrate subject material. Involve the parent in the discussions about student performance.
Source: Daniels, E., & Arapostathis, M. (2005). What do they really want?: Student voices and motivational research. Urban Education, 40(1), 34-59.
Source: Dicintio, M. J., & Gee, S. (1999). Control is the key: Unlocking the motivation of at-risk students. Psychology in the Schools, 36(3), 231-237.