No More Learning Objectives on the Board
February 3, 2020
There’s no shortage of advice for teachers out there. The laundry list of strategies to try out in your classroom can run on forever. So rather than add to the list, I’d like to help you refine it. Here one tried and true piece of advice you can take off the list straight away: Write the learning objective on the board.
It sounds like a good idea, and it is certainly well-meaning. It’s definitely smart to know what the learning objective is for your lesson and how you expect students to demonstrate understanding. But I submit that writing in on the board is a bit of a crutch. It ends up serving like a WANTED notice so you can mentally check off “made sure students aware of the objective”. Here’s an idea, make the learning objective clear by instructing them to the learning objective. In other words, the learning objective should be clear because the instruction is clear, not because of your stellar whiteboard penmanship.
Learn By Doing
Sometimes it’s good to let students know exactly what they’ll be learning about. In that case, present the objective in a compelling way that engages and delights (writing it on a board does neither). Other times, it may be better to guide students on a journey with the learning objective being an “aha!” moment. Let the discovery be revealed at the end of the class (in which case writing it on the board would only spoil the surprise).
It’s the Journey, Not the Destination
So, stop stressing about finding room on the board and time in your schedule to write your learning objectives. Instead, make sure your instruction draws students toward a learning objective like moths to a flame.
Now take this logic and apply it to any words of wisdom you’re offered – well intentioned or otherwise. Does it feel authentic or compulsory? Does it engage or does it disengage? Implement those strategies that inspire you. Discard those that do anything less.