"The poorest man in the world is the man without a dream. The most frustrated man in the world is a man with a dream that never becomes reality.” -Myles Munroe
One of the most frustrating realities to live with is having a goal or a dream and not having a clue how to achieve or realize it. It's like being on the sidelines and never getting in the game. It's also similar to waiting in line all night for tickets to that concert with your favorite performer, but having the tickets sold out when it's your turn to purchase it.
As teachers, home school educators, and parents we may know in some form or fashion the pain of living with unrealized dreams and potential. However, for many of our students and kids, the danger of them living with unfulfilled dreams is staggering.
Everyday, I work with students who do not have any dreams that they can verbalize. Some do have dreams, but they have no sense of direction on how to get there.
The first half of Proverbs 29:18 says that, “without vision, the people perish (KJV)…” I firmly believe that one of the reasons our students and kids get in trouble or will run into trouble in the future is because they do not have a vision for their life.
They do not have a goal or dream big enough to stretch them, motivating them to their God-given potential.
We have students in our classrooms and homes, who are just showing up because they have to, do not have any choice, or they don't show up at all. They are not invested in their lives or their education because they do not see the value of it now.
Some think or believe, “What's the point? Even if I have a dream, the possibility of it coming true is slim to none.”
That's where we come in as teachers and parents. We have the power and influence to help our students and kids tap into their gifts, stir them up, and reach for those goals and dreams in their hearts. How do we do that?
Here is a 3 steps plan to help our students and kids realize their goals and dreams.
Step 1: Help students identify a specific goal or dream they want to achieve.
What is it that our students and kids want to achieve? They may have many goals and desires. As their teachers and parents let's help them narrow it down to a few specific goals that they can achieve in the near future.
Delayed gratification is difficult for this present day generation. Many of them lose hope because they can not see their lives 3 years or 1 year from now.
Helping them identify smaller, more tangible goals, where the results can be seen in a smaller chunk of time, is more effective. It builds their stamina and fuels momentum to achieve bigger dreams.
The process between starting and achieving a goal, whether small or big can be overwhelming for our kids. This leads to the next step of the dream building process.
Step 2: Help students develop a realistic plan to achieve their goal or dream.
This step is crucial in helping students get through the process from start to finish. It's easy to start moving toward the dream. Everyone can do that. Finishing and doing what it takes to get there is a different story.
Our students and kids need our help in getting a game plan for success, broken into bite-size objectives, related to the goal or dream.
We want to set our students and kids up for success, by making each step of the process manageable, so they can see progress towards their goals and dreams one small step at a time.
Inch by Inch, It's a Cinch, Yard by Yard, Makes it Hard!
Since, I work in a school on a daily basis, I am going to use an example from the classroom to illustrate this point.
Let's say for instance you assign your students or your kids to write a five paragraph essay, explaining 3 different ways that the invention of the computer has improved their lives. This type of writing assignment is a realistic one that students in elementary, middle, and high school have to perform to demonstrate proficiency in their writing abilities to meet state-wide standards.
Which of the following approaches is easier for our students and kids to accomplish independently? The first approach would be to give the assignment on Monday and the due date the following Monday. Not much direction is given to the process of completing the essay.
The second approach would be to give the assignment on Monday, with the due date the following Monday, but with these specific daily objectives to accomplish:
Monday: Brainstorm, using a graphic organizer, 3 ways the invention of the computer has improved their lives.
Tuesday: Write the introductory paragraph.
Wednesday: Write about the first way computers have improved their lives with 2-3 supporting details.
Thursday: Write about the second way computers have improved their lives with 2-3 supporting details.
Friday: Write about the third way computers have improved their lives with 2-3 supporting details.
Saturday/Sunday: Write the concluding paragraph and edit their essay using an editing checklist provided by the teacher.
Inch by Inch, It's a Cinch, Yard by Yard, Makes it Hard!
The second approach breaks the tasks of writing a five paragraph essay into smaller chunks. It does not have to take a lot of time each day, but it will accomplish the task due the following week. The task of writing the essay does not look as overwhelming with a plan and road map to complete the assignment.
But, you may say. I've tried that and they still don't follow the plan, or they wait until the last minute to do it. The answer to this is found in step 3.
Step 3: Help students implement the specific plan you outline by holding them accountable.
We are often good at helping our students identify a goal and come up with a plan to achieve it, but now they have to be responsible to follow the plan and do the work. This is when we have to stay the course with them and be their coach.
Are they falling behind and slacking? Then, we need to call them out gently in a loving way, help them when they get stuck, and steer them get back on track.
Are our students and kids working the plan well and moving forward towards the goal or dream? Then, we need to stand in their corner and be their biggest cheerleaders, encouraging them every step of the way.
Ultimately, our students and kids have to make their own decisions. We can't do the work for them and we can't achieve their goals and dreams for them.
However, we can be there for them to help them identify their goals or dreams, whether small or big, develop a plan to achieve them, and then lovingly hold them accountable as they work through the process to get there.
Let me know your successes or challenges in helping your students or kids reach their goals and dreams by leaving a comment below. Then, Grab your free copy of my 5 day E-Course, "5 Secrets to Creating a More Efficient Classroom Environment." Just fill out the form on the upper right hand corner on this page. Your first lesson will be delivered to your email in-box immediately!
Antoine McCoy is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher as an Exceptional Needs Specialist working with children with mild to moderate disabilities. He has taught children in all grade levels (K-12) in Public and Private Schools (general education, inclusion, and self-contained classes) and worked with homeschoolers. He currently is working as a Learning Resource Specialist in a high school setting.