The science of deduction: RP6 – Think SMART

In this final (but at the same time initial) phase of our RP Challenge, John Phordresher prompts us to think SMART. As he puts it in his PR6 post, SMART plans are a critical component to the ELC. “It is with our actions plans that we take what we have learned through our reflective process and attempt to apply lessons learned in our next experience. And then the ELC process starts anew.”


SMART is an acronym for 

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
  • In my post I’m going to focus on all the aspects of SMART: area of improvement, indicator of progress, ‘who’ (the agent of change), realistic results, and ‘when’ (the time horizon of achieving the results). My RP5 post will take the reader to all the previous stages of my reflection process. 

    Area of improvement: 
    One of the areas I struggle most with is the fact that I set myself vague goals. I feel I need to work on specific, short-term goals rather than dreaming about what may happen one day if…. My over-holistic approach to anything and everything often interferes with my desire to be more analytical and rational. I somehow believe that analytical mind brings peace, safety and certainty (yes, I almost sound like Sherlock Holmes now). As I described in one of my previous posts (not related to this challenge) I’m attracted to people who have the qualities I feel to lack. I believe that by observing myself (my teaching) and constant reflection, as well as by observing my role models, i.e. colleagues and members of my PLN, and cooperating with them closely, I can do a lot to make things better because this approach brings knowledge, happiness and harmony to my soul, which subsequently helps me handle situations like the one I described in my RP3 post. 

    Indicator of progress:
    As my area of improvement is so intangible and non-specific (which is actually the core of my problem), it’s difficult to quantify or suggest an indicator of progress. But I suppose one of the indicators may be being able to handle an incident in class with dignity and with peace in mind.

    Who will do it?
    The agent of change is me and only me. I can’t predict what other participants of the learning process will do; I can’t change the way they think and behave. All I can do is to be well-prepared, ready and alert, with as few expectations as possible. I can’t expect, for example, that all students will appreciate what we do in class. Some will find my methods useless and being in class a waste of time, which can be a source of bitter disappointment on both sides of the barricade. This is what I should keep in mind all the time; I’m NOT and can’t be on the same wavelength with everybody (= every student). I’ll always be there for them but it doesn’t really matter how they perceive me as long as I’m at peace with myself.

    Results that can be realistically achieved:
    As stated above, it’s rather difficult for me to look too far ahead. But I also struggle with small objectives that need to be set on a daily basis. I imagine most people would be surprised at the way I describe myself but that’s how I feel. I live intuitively, in the present (drawing on what happened in the past). That’s how I live and teach and that’s why I’ve never been a good chess player. I enjoy the magic of the present moment which can lead to more magic in the classroom if we are all tuned in. That’s why the dogme approach appeals to me. But although I’m a dreamer who realizes she’s dreaming, now and then I need to be woken up by various incidents to be be able to live fully and passionately again. Back to the realistic results; I think I might be able to stop and think each time when I feel disappointed or hurt emotionally and say to myself: “It’s not about you, girl. Don’t take things personally. Get up and go on. Forgive. Change what needs to be changed. Start anew.”

    When can the results be achieved?
    I suppose the results can be achieved right now, in a minute, tomorrow, next week. They can be achieved constantly. The danger is that I may fall asleep again and start dreaming my dream of me as a wonderful teacher loved and secretly admired  by every single student. But if I keep my eyes open, I’ll be able to see things; to see them from different perspectives. Some students don’t care about me and what I do for them. And it’s perfectly fine. Some will even dislike me, for all possible reasons. And that’s perfectly fine because I’m bossy, impatient, I sometimes speak too fast and chaotically, and I don’t always teach grammar explicitly. A few of them may like me because I’m nice, I smile a lot, I’m humorous and always in a good mood. Either way, being a teacher means dealing with lots of different human beings who come with different backgrounds and expectations. All I can do is to be myself and let others decide how to feel towards me and my way of teaching. 

    P.S.: I highly recommend this RP6 post by Anne Hendler.  

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    About Hana Tichá

    I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for more than 20 years. I love metaphors and inspiring discussions concerning teaching, learning and linguistics.
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    2 Responses to The science of deduction: RP6 – Think SMART

    1. lizzieserene says:

      Hi. Thanks for mentioning my post and for your comment. I really appreciate how thorough your action plan is. I wonder if you could condense it down to a single sentence, what that sentence might be? I ask because I know that it helps me to see my goals laid out that way.

      I really connected to this part you wrote: “I think I might be able to stop and think each time when I feel disappointed or hurt emotionally and say to myself: “It's not about you, girl. Don't take things personally. Get up and go on. Forgive. Change what needs to be changed. Start anew.”” I think it is hard, as teachers, to avoid getting emotionally involved in our classes. It's hard to remember that kids are just kids – still growing and developing – and we are the adults in the room. It's hard to model the adults we hope they will become. These are things I learn from my students and the cycle of learning goes back and forth.
      Thank you for all your thoughtful perceptions during the challenge. I look forward to taking on future challenges with you.

      Like

    2. Hana Tichá says:

      Hi, Ann. I also thank you for your comment 🙂 You suggestion to condense my wordy post into one sentence is a real challenge and I decided to take it up. But when I think about it, the sentence you quoted in your comment could actually nicely sum up what I've tried to express in five lengthy paragraphs. It includes all the 'descriptors' of SMART: the area of improvement (my emotions and reactions), the agent of change (me), indicator of progress (being able to handle an incident), results (awareness, mindfulness), the time horizon (now or any time).
      I don’t think I necessarily have to avoid emotional involvement – I would deprive myself of the pleasures of teaching profession. But certain feelings do hurt and they need to be dealt with if I want to work efficiently.
      It’s been a great pleasure to share my emotions with you and other participants of this RP challenge and I hope it’s not over.
      Hana

      Like

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