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Are your goal posts moving?

Ever been in the game, and the goal posts change? Frustratingly impossible comes to mind.

I was recently completing a submission, and yes, I will admit it was a last-minute submission with the deadline looming before I lifted a pen, but I was smashing it out. I had my plan and resources, and I’d reached out for help. I was going to meet that deadline. Lo, and behold, 12 hours before the submission time, I get a ‘bing’ – you’ve got mail! Fighting the need to ignore it and keep on track with my all-important submission, I caved and opened the email. Lucky, because the goal posts had changed without warning.

Although they had changed in my favour, the submission date had been extended, I could not withhold my rage. How could they? Why would they? Didn’t they know I had busted the proverbial getting my submission to the point that I had sent it off for peer editing – warts and all. I hadn’t edited it, and now I would look like a grammar fool. Needless to say, I went on a rant fest.

When I had calmed down and realised there was now an extra week to improve and consolidate the submission, I also started to think about the impact the shifting goal post had on me. Could this be what it is like for our students when we don’t specify the behaviour we are looking for or expecting? As little people, are they acting out, just like I had, in a less socially acceptable way because of the associated emotions of the shifting goal post?

In the classroom, some students are giving their all to do the right thing, or maybe they’re sitting there totally stumped and confused by the expectations. Are we, the teachers, setting them up for frustration, failure or even exasperation simply because we have not clearly communicated the required needs? Could our lack of communication be the antecedent and a contributing factor to the behaviour that we see in the classroom.

Clear communication and an air of consistency comfort us as adults. For the students in our classes, even more so. Setting up the expectations and boundaries we expect to see explicitly will set these little people on the right path. Consistency in our expectations and consistency in our collective, whole-of-school expectations will reduce our students’ cognitive/emotional load and prevent our colleagues from being set up as the bad guys when they enforce an expectation that we have let slide.

Check out other articles Candice has written here.