Set annual objectives in concrete

Teachers and schools need not only goals, but annual objectives. Annual objectives restrict the amount that must be taught while increasing the ways and number of times it can be taught.

It’s much easier to get all students to meet an objective if they’ve had multiple times to learn the content and skills it requires than if everyone is expected to be ready and able to master that content in a unit taught between Oct. 10 and Oct 19.

Objectives are valuable only if they are unchangeable as the laws of the Medes and the Persians. In his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Lead … and Others Don’t, Jim Collins quotes Amgen co-founder George Rathmann on the subject of annual objectives.

When you set your objectives for the year, you record them in concrete. You can change your plans through the year, but you never change what you measure yourself against. You are rigorous at the end of the year, adhering exactly to what you said was going to happen. You don’t get a chance to editorialize. You don’t get a change to adjust and finagle, and decide that you didn’t intend to do that anyway, and readjust your objectives to make yourself look better. You never just focus on what you’ve accomplished for the year; you focus on what you’ve accomplished relative to exactly what you said you were going to accomplish—no matter how tough the measure. (122)

Rathmann’s observations are as applicable to education as they are to business.

Collins, Jim. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Makes the Leap … and Others Don’t. New York: Harper Business, 2001. Print.

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