Reaching a Goal, Stopping the TearsPosted by Rachel Herron on 9/19/2019
Sitting in my new office on July 30th, I felt a familiar nervous energy in the pit of my stomach as I signed into Goalbook Toolkit for the first time. Admittedly, I frequently feel this way when I am getting ready to embark on a new journey, or when I am anticipating a major life change. I also had a few open-ended questions floating around in my mind.
“What if the tool is not everything I think it is? What if it is not received well by educators across the districts? What if they find out when I was a teacher, I was the world’s worst goal writer?”
The pit in my stomach only held a short candle to the ache that I felt in 1995 when I started my teaching career at Custer Baker Middle School...long before the makeover that created today’s CBIS. I clearly remember the stress I felt sitting in the parking lot on “case conference day.” I knew Mindy Staton would head down from the high school and witness the debacle I called an IEP. I recall the frustration I faced upon writing my first goal and realizing that I did not know if it was “right.” The implications of creating a document that was not correct, and what that could mean legally did not even cross my mind -- as something more important to me loomed in the foreground: the students!
I was a great classroom teacher. I am not bragging about that, just acknowledging teaching has always been my passion. I knew when I was 5 years old that I wanted to be a teacher, and I wanted to support children who needed an expert’s eye to complete the jigsaw puzzle of individual learning. I was NOT a good goal writer, and what plagued me at every Annual Case Review was that I had no idea if what I had written reflected the incredible student of my focus.
What I wanted was a plan that allowed anyone who picked up the document to KNOW this student for whom I was creating goals. I wanted the goals to show the achievement and success the student celebrated and for the next attainable level to be logical. What I frequently wound up with was a tear-soaked document that reflected nothing. Thank goodness IIEP did not exist at the time or who knows how many computers I would have shorted out with my wailing.
When I accepted my new job at Earlywood, I knew I would learn the tool and train the staff, but I really wanted to ease the stress for other educators. This is a tool designed to help with the process, the clarity and the “I-am-not-sure-what-to-do- or-where-to-go-next” moments that educators inevitably have. I am pleased to say I believe this has happened.
Not only does Goalbook Toolkit assist in creating present levels of performance with built-in assessments to “spot check” the accuracy of the statement, but it helps build meaningful, measurable goals and objectives. Evidence-Based Strategies are built into every goal, highlighting Universal Design for Learning Principles which then can be shared quickly with other educators and parents.
Educators built this tool for educators. I am grateful that the member districts of Team Earlywood decided to allocate the funds necessary to build capacity for every Team Member who is part of the goal writing and strategy sharing process.
Hopefully, this will be the start of more confident case conferences and fewer “parking lot stomach aches” and tear-soaked computer keyboards! Do not hesitate to contact me if you need training, collaboration or have questions about Goalbook Toolkit!
Rachel Herron, SDI Facilitator