Working Toward a Purpose

The last week I have spent a fair amount of time lost in thought about what are the goals I am helping my company achieve in my current role. Six months into the job and I am finally starting to see a clear picture of what it could be. It’s a cool role…engagement coordinator. To me, it evokes thoughts of connection, elevating amazing teacher work and bringing together like-minded learners from across the country to share and grow from one another. It also sounds BIG. And a bit challenging. But I am always up for a challenge.

The thing that has me puzzled is about goals. I thought I understood our company and department goals until I was asked to sit down and organize the goals in terms of generating community through social media and determining the metrics involved with those goals. It was extremely challenging to a bit frustrating to realize that I really didn’t know our goals as well as I thought I did. Numerically I understood that I need to help grow community and even have a specific target in mind, but the more I tried to parse out what that meant, the more I realized that I was starting with the metrics, which is a big no-no.

I found this great article that helped me understand I needed to back it up quite a bit and focus on what our department goals actually looked like in practice. I’m not done with that process yet and am sure that it will be revised more times than I can count in the next few weeks before we land on something solid. And I am totally ok with that. It’s the collaborative process that counts in getting a really clear picture of what we are aiming to do.

So what does this have to do with education? It’s pretty simple actually. I think schools and districts are doing exactly what the strategy funnel suggests NOT to do. Instead of starting with the tactics and the metrics, go back to the goals.


You may be thinking, I know my goals. I need to have X% of kiddos pass my end-of-course test or we need to increase our literacy level by X points this year. But I think those are really metrics of a larger goal…and it’s the larger goal we should be pushing teachers to realize and supporting them to do so in the process.

Here’s what that might look like for an 9th grade ELA class:


See what I did there? One of my classroom metrics contains the “goal” that I had previously mentioned which is actually a measurement of what I am doing in my classroom. And while that isn’t the traditional way of looking at a course, if I get clear about my classroom practice goal, then my metrics can flow from that rather than the reverse. The metrics might be the same, but they feel totally different because I am focusing on what I want to accomplish with my students that year. I am giving myself permission to craft a larger purpose to work toward. Backwards mapping the process will help make it very clear how to set up what you do in the classroom so that everything is in service of the larger goal and the metric will be the evidence you have in the end to prove what you did worked without pressuring or over-stressing your learners about those test scores.


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