Over the course of my learning as a student in the Master’s of Education course “Self-Regulated Inquiry,” at Queen’s University, the realization that goal setting is an enabler of self-regulation was most pressing. It was with this critical new knowledge that I’ve worked over the course of the term to establish a Distal Goal (an ultimate level of performance) and Proximal Goals (preliminary level of achievement) that speaks deeply to my vocation as a Catholic educator. As such, my work in establishing a self-regulated inquiry was very much connected to my students and their own relationship with goal setting, self-regulation and importantly a sense of self within the landscape of education.
For my inquiry, my Distal Goal was to evolve my instructional practice to include a focus on student goal setting and self-regulation as a mode to enhance academic achievement along with enabling culturally responsive teaching and learning. With a primary focus in working with Gr. 11 College/University Communications Technology students, my goal was to foster a learning space that is student centric both in pedagogy and curriculum.
To achieve this goal, I worked to establish Proximal Goals that mapped a potential journey to success. Within this context and within the framework of my own self-regulation, I had to be cognizant of my Distal Goal throughout the experience and remap my journey where needed in order to meet the needs of students. As my goal of building and sustaining a culturally responsive teaching and learning space was the ultimate outcome, my Proximal Goals had to be moldable as a result of shifting practice as aligned to where students were in their goal setting and self-regulation journey. An overview of my Distal and Proximal Goals can be found below.
As students developed individualized goals and self-regulated, the plan to be responsive became realized. In working to reimagine both pedagogical and curriculum outcomes, a learning space that spoke to the realness of students was cultivated. This was determined through my continuous dialogue with students that served the promise and intention of Assessment For and As learning.
Assessment For and As learning speaks to being responsive to students and their relationship both with a particular learning task and learning as a practice that transcends a particular course. As noted in Growing Success, “assessment plays a critical role in teaching and learning and should have as its goal the development of students as independent and autonomous learners. As an integral part of teaching and learning, assessment should be planned concurrently with instruction and integrated seamlessly into the learning cycle to inform instruction, guide next steps, and help teachers and students monitor students’ progress towards achieving learning goals.
In integrating individualized Goal Setting and Self Regulation with intention, the development of “students as independent and autonomous learners,” most definitely became a reality. The video below highlights the the benefits of intentionally embedding goal setting and self-regulation as a meaningful classroom practice that shapes viable achievement outcomes. Specifically, in regards to the goals that students share in the video, my responsiveness is directly linked to their relationship with learning. Moving forward, the individual learning goals established by students will be integrated as part of a formal assessment that comes to life during the final exam.
There will be a section on the exam where students activate their respective goal. As a result, with twenty-eight students in the course, there will be twenty-eight individualized goal centric sections on the final examination. This promises to speak directly to students key learning and is an example of how my practice works to enable cultural responsive teaching and learning.
As the students share their critical learning reflections which speak to cultural responsive teaching and learning it is important to note and make reference to the critical mentorship I received. Primarily, Dr. Marlyn Morris who I have had the pleasure to collaborate with, has deeply shaped my sense of cultural responsive teaching and learning as a significant practice that not only speaks to individual students but also allows students to learn from the cultural experiences of their peers. This is not to say that culture is defined within a traditional context of race and ethnicity but rather culture as shaped by family narrative, sense of self and a students’ relationship with learning. This is echoed in the Ministry of Education’s Building Capacity Series that highlights that “culture goes much deeper than typical understandings of ethnicity, race and/or faith. It encompasses broad notions of similarity and difference and it is reflected in our students’ multiple social identities and their ways of knowing and of being in the world. In order to ensure that all students feel safe, welcomed and accepted, and inspired to succeed in a culture of high expectations for learning, schools and classrooms must be responsive to culture.”
Here is video I produced for the Ontario English Catholic Teacher’s Association featuring Dr. Morris. In this video she speaks to cultural responsive teaching and learning. The key ideas of this video was at the heart of my Distal Goal and her support throughout the inquiry helped to shape new thinking pertaining to what constitutes deep learning within a classroom space.
As the inquiry comes to a close with the conclusion of the course, my practice will continue to evolve. Speaking directly to my own sense of self-regulation, I now have a critical understanding that Distal Goals are of paramount importance and that monitoring one’s journey (through establishing and modifying Proximal Goals), is very much self-regulation in and of itself.
For other key inquiry reflections, please visit the links below.