Thursday, April 30, 2009

What's the Plan?

"A goal without a plan is just a wish."
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

About a month ago, it was time to get my kids into bed for the night, and for whatever reason, I really don't remember why I did it, I told them to settle down in their beds, and I said, "Okay, here is the plan..." I then proceded to detail what they were going to do all the way up until the time I left for work the next morning. They were to snuggle down under their blankets and close their eyes until they fell asleep. Then, they would have sweet dreams and sleep in their own beds all night. In the morning, when they woke up, they were supposed to tip-toe across the hallway and cuddle up with Mom and Dad until it was time to get up and watch cartoons. As I said, I don't know why I came up with this or what I hoped to accomplish with it, but both kids quietly closed their eyes and slept in their own beds all night. The plan worked to perfection!

Much to my suprise, my daughter requested to hear the plan the next night at bedtime. It took me a little while to figure out what my wife was talking about when she came into the living room after going back to tuck the kids in and told me of the request. This routine has now been repeated every night since. After coming to watch one of my baseball games, my daughter insisted that we add a "breakdown" in which we all put our hands in the middle and say "goooooo team!" Not only does my daughter, and to a lesser extent my son, insist that the plan be detailed every night, but if anything does not go according to the plan, she gets very upset and scolds whoever "ruined the plan".

What does this have to do with you? Maybe nothing. Many of you have goals in life that you are very sure and passionate about, and you have gone the additional step of making a plan for yourself to reach that goal. Unfortunately, though, I have an alarming number of students who don't seem to have ever learned to make the connection between what happens next and what they are doing now. I ask students who rarely come to class and pretty much never complete assignments if they want to graduate from high school. With almost no exceptions, I am told that they do want to graduate. Then, when I begin to discuss with them the ways in which they can accomplish this goal, they nod their heads blankly and walk out of my classroom no closer to understanding the importance of making a plan and following through than when we began. Somehow, I accidentally taught my daughter a lesson that no matter how hard I try I cannot purposely teach my students.

I did not sit down to write this blog with a clear plan of where I wanted to end up, which has led to the exact outcome I would have predicted: I am lost, which is exactly what awaits any of you who still has not made the connection between a clear plan and your future.