Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M: Milestones AtoZChallenge

There's a verse in Proverbs that I think about often as it reminds me that each of us, whatever our circumstances, need the ability to look forward. That is, we need goals. We need purpose. 

Where there is no vision, the people parish. (Proverbs 29:18). 

When I first read it as a kid, I didn't think about the context. The literal text spoke to me, and the verse has propelled me forward for many years. A question in my mind has remained: What is my vision for my life?

This year as part of the National Education Association Master Teacher Project, I have had milestones set for me by Better Lesson, the company NEA has contracted with to host the courses of those in the project. For each milestone, I contract to complete a certain number of lessons. 

When I began my journey with BL and the MTP, I was told I'd be responsible for submitting a lesson every day I teach English 12. At first, I consulted the district calendar and submitted the number of lessons I'd write based on student contact time. In time I discovered not all interpreted the "a lesson a day" mandate as literally as I did. Still, I needed a vision that empowered me to manage my contractual obligations. Otherwise, I would not, I realized, be able to complete the project requirements. 

I've been involved in many other endeavors that necessitate my creating milestones that lead to completion of a task, including earning my B.S. in four years, finishing National Board Certification and recertification, earning my M.A. 

Life in a western world revolves around milestones. To set milestones (goals) we need a vision. 

One of my favorite RSA Animate videos suggests that people operate in one of six different time constructs and that schools need to understand that both culture and technology affect the way students perceive and react to time:

This year has been particularly frustrating to me when dealing with students and time management. I worry about those who seemingly take a cavalier attitude about deadlines, all the while telling me they plan to attend college. 

The first week of school a student from last year visited me and apologized for ignoring my advice about time management and deadlines. He quickly learned that five minutes late in submitting a paper resulted in a 50% grade reduction. 

Finding a way to respect cultural mores while instilling the Western ideal that meeting milestones is key to their academic and job success presents an increasingly complicated challenge for teachers. 

As I look forward to the end of the school year and begin planning for next year, I'm thinking about ways to incorporate lessons on time and milestones and developing a vision into the required curriculum. 

Right now, I feel a bit like the speaker in the Hootie and the Blowfish song "Time." 

Time, why you punish me? 
Like a wave bashing into the shore 
You wash away my dreams. 
Time, why you walk away? 
Like a friend with somewhere to go 
You left me crying 
Can you teach me about tommorrow 
And all the pain and sorrow 
Running free? 
Cause tomorrow's just another day 
And I don't believe in time 
Time, I don't understand 
Children killing in the street 
Dying for the color of red 
Time, hey there red and blue 
Wash them in the ocean, make them clean, 
Maybe their mothers won't cry tonight 
Can you teach me about tomorrow 
All the pain and sorrow 
Running free? 
But tomorrow's just another day 
And I don't believe in... 
Time is wasting 
Time is walking 
You ain't no friend of mine 
I don't know where i'm goin' 
I think I'm out of my mind 
Thinking about time 
And if I die tomorrow, yeah 
Just lay me down in sleep 
Time, you left me standing there 
Like a tree growing all alone 
The wind just stripped me bare, stripped me bare 
Time, the past has come and gone 
The future's far away 
Now only lasts for one second, one second 
Can you teach me about tomorrow 
And all the pain and sorrow 
Running free? 
'Cause tomorrow's just another day 
And I don't believe in time 
Time, why you punish me?


  1. I truly enjoyed your post for the #a2zchallenge I think that MILESTONES are as important if not more so than goals. If I feel uneasy I like to take a deep breath and think... OK where was I a year ago, what have I done ... it always puts me at ease and I guess it is a bit of an exercise on Milestones and accomplishments http://4covert2overt.blogspot.com/

  2. Glenda, yours is such a noble profession. And like you rightly said, it is very important for you to instill the principles of time management and milestones early on. Thank you for sharing this. And good luck with the rest of the challenge!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Aarthi. I've had fun w/ the A to Z Challenge and even have some students who have found my blog. Believe me, teachers don't feel noble. We fill more like the whipping girl these days.

  3. Milestones are so important in everything we do. And yes, we have hit the halfway milestone with the A to Z challenge. This is my first year and I'm determined to get to Z. Looking forward to reading more on your website.

    1. My first year, too. In fact, this is my first blog challenge. I started a day late and wrote two posts for the first day. Yesterday I read a blog by a woman who plans her posts a year ahead of time. I can't even do that for a vacation!

  4. Oh, I have the vision. Now I just need the perseverance. :-)