Getting Strategic With Goals

“That was great. I have never thought that deeply about my goals before.”

Hearing this from a normally quite cynical Year 10 boy was a great end to a session I ran yesterday. Our Taheretikitiki community is focusing on the Hobsonville Habit of Purposeful this week and it was my turn to run the community activity. Being early in the year, many of the Hubs have been developing goals for the year so the focus of the session was to develop strategies that would help them reach their goals.

Whiteboard notes that will make sense if you keep reading!

Whiteboard notes that will make sense if you keep reading!

The image above is the whiteboard notes from our Goal session and show the steps that we went through. The steps above the green line happened as a whole community (~79 students) and the last 3 steps were back in their hubs (groups of 11-12).

The language used on the board is from our HPSS Learning Design Model:

HPSS Learning Design Model

HPSS Learning Design Model

Explore by considering

Students paired up and had to explain to each other 1 thing that they wanted to work on or develop this year. In saying this they had to give evidence for why it was something that they needed to work on. This part was fairly straight forward for most students who had been thinking about goals in Hubs over the previous week.

Make Sense by analysing

Still in pairs, students had to tell their partner what their goal was again. The partner then asked them Why? After the student gave them an explanation, the partner would ask Why again. This was repeated so that the question Why? was asked 5 times. In this sense we really drilled down to get a deeper understanding of why this was an important goal to work on. (After I explained this task, Danielle put me through the 5 Whys in front of the students as an example of how it would work, then they got started).

Focus by defining

Students then had to define their goal as : How might (name) (goal) so that (reason). Example from one of my Hub students: How Might (name) improve my writing skills so that I can pursue my writing dream.

Generate by ideating

Students were all given given a green piece of paper to complete a 10 minute rapid ideation session on strategies to help reach their goal (being purposeful with the green paper as psychology research is reporting it as having a positive impact on creativity). I also used Nina Simone Sinnerman as musical background to this section – after Tom Barrett used this successfully with us in some ideation sessions last year, I have regularly used it to help the creativity. As students started, I reiterated that in this phase there is no such thing as a bad idea as they all help in the end. At intervals throughout I gave prompts for their strategies to help the ideas keep flowing. These included: an idea that would cost at least $100, an idea involving a family member, worst possible idea, adjust your worst idea to make it better, substitute part of an idea you have already written, combine 2 ideas into 1.

After this, I sent them on a short walk to clear the mind. As they arrived back they had to underline or circle their favourite idea, the idea that would be hardest to achieve and the idea most likely to succeed. These ideas were then taken back to their Hub.

Test by consulting

Students had to place their sheet with the goal written on it and the 3 strategy ideas clearly marked on a table. The Hub then moved round their table and ticked the strategy that they thought would be best for achieving the goal. Students could then consider this feedback to guide their decisions.

Refine by adjusting

Students now had to decide which strategy would best enable them to reach their goal. They had time to expand on the idea, combine 2 ideas together etc to basically flesh out a plan of attack. This was then shared with their hub coach as a first iteration of their Goal and Strategy for 2015.

Share by presenting

The 90 minute session finished with students telling their Hub and Coach their goal and strategy. In the case of my Hub, the goal and strategy have also been emailed home to parents for them to discuss before we relook at them together in a 1 on 1 catch up next week.

The overall impression from teachers was that this worked well for our students:


And to reuse the quote from the start of this post it also seemed to work for students:

“That was great. I have never thought that deeply about my goals before.”

Applying a Design Thinking process to goal setting and strategising is not something that I have done before. After this experience yesterday it is something that I will definitely do again. People often think about Design Thinking being a creative process. To me it is inherently a strategic process that enables creativity. This activity proved that to me.


p.s. For those interested, the strategy for the goal shared earlier was:

Everyday, when I come home from school, I will devote half an hour to write a short story on a writing blog I will create. I will buy a notebook for story starters/ideas and make a story using those ideas.




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