Did you ever stop and think about how many goals we work towards each day? Getting to work on time. Finishing a To Do list. Cooking a healthy dinner for the family. There are multiple options for how we meet each of them, given our diverse learning styles and accommodation needs. I may lay my day’s outfit out the night before to save me time in the morning. I may take a shortcut on my drive in to avoid heavy traffic spots. I may need to use an app on my iPad for maintaining tasks that includes daily alerts to keep me on track. I may use the internet to find a new recipe or video for steaming fish or stop at the market and talk to the butcher for cooking ideas.
Did you also realize that goal writing is an art? Most of us understand the basic principle of a goal being a result or achievement we aim for. One major problem of goal writing is how broad or narrowly they are defined. “Goals that are too highly specified limit the possible strategies for reaching them, this suppressing creative solutions and limiting the number of people who can even attempt to attain the goals.” (Rose & Meyer, 2002). On the other hand, goals that are too disjointed and fuzzy confuse the person on how to achieve them.
Through this week’s readings, I really began to question the complexity of goal writing. While I’ve always been intimidated by writing goals with my daughters’s IEP team, Rose and Meyer broke down the process in a way that made such sense to me. For example, I never thought about the need to use the whole brain to achieve a goal — our brains recognition networks to identify the who and what (the information); our strategic networks to emphasize the how (the process and skills); and our affective networks to connect the why (importance to me). I remember in high school having to take tests on the civil war. Sure, I could memorize dates of battles, and important speeches, but it wasn’t until 30 years later that I got the whole picture – the facts, meaning and importance – when I attended a Civil War exhibit at the Historical Society in Richmond. It was a learning, living, interactive exhibit where letters home from soldiers were read aloud, firearms were available to touch and learn how to fire, recreated field hospital scenes were shown on screens, battle plans were available to read, and newspaper copies showed stories of life going on at home.
So, based on what I learned this week, my task was to rewrite a goal. I chose a work goal related to our emotional and informational support to families.
Original goal: culturally and linguistically diverse families of children with disabilities will receive unbiased information from Family Navigators. Looking back, I wonder if this wasn’t the outcome, rather than the goal.
Rewritten goal: Family Navigators will understand how to present, in a balanced manner, a variety of resources requested by culturally and linguistically diverse families of children with disabilities.
This requires that the navigator define what each family is seeking (learn how to interview families to solicit needs), search strategies (websites, brochures/guidance documents, workshops, applications, agency rep) to find relevant resources (Medicaid, oral health care, child care, AT funding, support group, cochlear implants), monitor their progress (established in program guidelines), evaluate the quality of the information (is it biased, is it family friendly, is it in multiple languages, is it current), keep track of resources collected (developing a binder or computer folder), and organize it into a meaningful, balanced presentation (how to keep personal biases and opinions out).