Thursday, March 18, 2010

Life and Learning, Backward

I took a day away from the classroom today to hear Jay McTighe speak. Jay is the creator of a curriculum design process called “Backward Design”, where teachers are asked to think about what they want students to know or be able to do first, and create classwork that determines where they are right now, then takes them to the goal.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

You’d think that all teachers would do this naturally, but it is in fact an incredibly rare practice. Teachers are often so focused on the factual knowledge and skills that students need to learn that we put those things first in the process of figuring out how to teach.

I’m seeing some real connections in this paradigm to living life with purpose, but I’m still chewing on them so it’ll be a bit before I feel like I can write about them. In the meantime, I offer the following as something to think about:

The “Backward Design” approach consists of three general stages:

1. Consider the goals for what students should know or be able to do.

2. Determine how we will know if students have achieved the goals.

3. Plan learning experiences and instruction.

If we tweak the language a bit, we might use this same approach to think about how to get anywhere in life, generally:

1. Consider what goals you have. What do you want to achieve for yourself? What do you want to be able to do?

2. How will you know you’ve done it? (this seems like it would be obvious, but there are many ways to determine success)

3. Plan out how you might get from here to there. This is often the hardest thing to do where real-life goals are concerned. If you’re thinking of a big or long-term goal, it might help to think about smaller interim goals that, all together, get you where you want to be over time.

I’ll share a personal example this weekend. In the meantime, what was the first goal that popped into your head? Did you have trouble coming up with one? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


the passionate hairdresser said...

Soooo....I answered your questions on my blog!! Happy reading!!

Wayfarer said...

Thanks! I'm headed over there now...