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A Plan for Planning Backwards

May 29, 2014

I always find myself amazed at the end of May that I’ve actually arrived “here,” the place I had planned and hoped to find at the close of the school year. I’m surprised, in a way, that the students have grown, developed as critical thinkers and writers – that assessments worked, that texts provoked them, that they became more independent in their learning. There is a certain leap of faith that occurs when we start out in September: I hope/pray/believe/think that the building blocks are in the right order, that the design makes sense, that the first floor builds logically on the foundation, etc. But right now, I can see the finished product clearly, and I can see how it was made.

This week I’m also receiving feedback from course evaluations, as students take their final exams, providing me with student perspectives on what has happened over the past nine months.

So I’m thinking that maybe now is the time to start writing next year’s course goals, rather than in September, because I know where the course finished, I can see pretty clearly how we got here, and I’m getting feedback on what worked and what didn’t. I know the end point; and while I may know it in three months, I’m “here” right now, and I can plan backwards with this point in plain sight. I know I can revise after a couple of months of rest and perspective, but I’m thinking about starting 2014 – 2015 right now.

I’m curious if others have found it easier, more appropriate, to draft out course goals and expectations at the end of the year, rather than at the start. It’s “planning backwards” from the finish line, while at it, rather than seeing it way in the distance.

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