King Rat (gkr) wrote,
King Rat

Goals workshop

Today was filled with Community for Youth stuff.

At 2, I went to a ceremony at the King County Superior Court where Washington State Mentors presented Community for Youth with a grant from Bank of America. Senator Ed Murray and Lieutenant Governor Brad Owens participated. Only a measly $5,000 though. That helps, but it doesn't really go that far.

I got some tea at Remedy Teas and killed a few hours reading.

Tonight was the first regular Thursday workshop for Steps Beyond for Sealth. We did the launch course this weekend which I wrote about. (Did I write much? I can't remember.) Anyway, today was less a full workshop than it was a set time to get everyone to figure out what their goals will be this year. Unlike previous years, we aren't setting goals for the whole school year. There will be one set of goals for the first semester, another for third quarter, and a third for the final quarter. No goals specifically for first quarter, since it's ¾ through already.

Each student and mentor will create one academic/vocational goal, and one life goal. The goal takes the form of:

I, fill in name here commit to specific action every day, week, month or other frequency so that I can big goal/result.

One or the other of the specific action or the big result (and preferably both) must be something measurable.

I love working with the students to figure out what their goals can be. A lot of folks (including mentors) come in with tentative ideas for things that they think they should do. Things that people in their positions are supposed to do. For example, one of the mentors in my group tentatively had that she/he would not hit the snooze button so that he/she could be in to work earlier. Well, in addition to not being particularly measurable, it sucks as a goal because it's not something that gets the person excited. And it isn't something that someone looks forward to. I told her/him my prediction was that in 2 to 4 weeks, either he/she would be doing it, or she/he wouldn't. It's also sort of all or nothing. There's no nirvana of having succeeded and accomplished the goal. You get it done, and then the next day you start all over again on the same freaking goal. And how do you tell if you've succeeded at the end? Which weeks or days do you count? All of them from the beginning? The last week?

Any one of those objections doesn't make it a bad goal for what we are doing. But all of them combined kind of made it a sucky goal. Anyway, the last couple of weeks the person had been talking about going back to school so as to start a more fulfilling career. Not that they know what it is they wanted to do. So I suggested that the person make the goal researching one career/major/field per week until something that interests her/him comes up. Figure out what it is the profession does. What it takes to get into it. What kinds of classes or schooling is needed. Talk to a few people who do it and get their opinions as to how enjoyable/fulfilling. It has a big payoff that she could get into. It has something measurable on the way that's not to hard to do. And it's something he/she can involve the students with.

One of the students in my group wanted to set a goal of a 4.0 for the semester. I kind of advised against that. Not because it's not doable, but because there's no room for messing up. If you mess up one class, or find you aren't well suited for getting an A in P.E., you can't make up for it by doing even better in another class. Right now it's attainable, but at some point in the future it might not be. And once it's not attainable, the kids often just quit entirely. I don't want them to be in a position of unattainable goals in the program ever. Hard goals yes. Goals with no room for error is iffy unless they are really close already. Since the student is currently getting a 3.5, a 3.8 or a 3.9 gives that student room to be human and mess up and still make the goal, yet still get a significant boost. Plus, a 4.0 still counts. (And setting a goal of 4.0 next quarter if they succeed at a 3.8 won't seem so all or nothing. It'll mean just moving one or two classes from a B to an A.)

The thrill comes from walking out of the evening with everyone in the group excited with their goals and where they are going. If folks are walking out thinking "I'll never do this" or "This is gonna suck" I don't think we're doing our job. I don't see that so much of getting them excited as helping them figure out (or merely help them admit to themselves) what it is that already excites them.

One of the students in my group last year is back this year. We're not in the same small group, but I chatted with him as we were walking out. His goal is to have applications for college and scholarships/grants all taken care of by the end of the semester. Which is totally awesome! When I first met him at the beginning of his sophomore year, college was the furthest from his mind. He has a family of fuckups. I think his long term goal was not a whole lot more than "don't be as much of a fuckup as they are." I don't think he's destined for the Ivy League (at least not at first), but college and a career aren't that far away.
Tags: mentoring

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