When driving in the dark on a highway without adequate lighting, in the rain, it is so nice when the driver in front of you sets the pace, and stays on course. Yes, there is an element of trust, and it is still stressful, but being able to follow a leader can relieve the greater stress of navigating the highway alone.
Goal setting is only the first of many steps towards completing a task. If the goals are set too high, they will not be attainable. If the goals are set too low, then students will not become self-efficacious when reaching those goals. However, as educators we can model goal setting and how we plan to reach our goals in a way that provides our students with the process required to attain self-set goals.
I was thinking about how many times I begin a task or class with the goal of completing the task in a specific amount of time, but do not maintain control over the behaviors required to reach specific goals. I wonder what my students think when I begin a class stating that we are going to accomplish a specific task and I become diverted due to a question that leads me to a response, then a story from my own teaching background, and then finally wondering what was I talking about in the first place. I take a second to reset, and then we are back on track!
I would imagine following me set and reset my goals is a great visual aid in self-regulation. What I have found is that when I am diverted, and lose track of my goals, it is a good time to let my students know that I strayed off course, and must get back on…..This provides them with the opportunity to see that even seasoned professionals can divert from the goal, but he/she knows how to self-correct and get back on track. Similar to the lights in front of me on the highway, that guide me through the rain and difficult conditions, are the goals I set when I begin a task or class. If I lost track of the goals, I might totally be off track and never return to the steps that will lead me to the intended outcome. However, if I self-monitor, checking my progress in relation to the goal, I have a much better chance of completing a class discussing learning theory rather than stories about my teaching career. Not that the vignettes are not appropriate, however, their effect will be stronger if I stay in my lane, focus on the goal, and am transparent about my diversions, I will be teaching self-regulation while I am practicing it!