Thursday, March 27, 2014

Native American Students Explore Goal Setting

Ophelia Hu, Reader to Reader's Navajo Nation Outreach Coordinator, writes about the work she is doing with 50 freshmen and sophomores from the Kinlani all-Native dorm of Flagstaff High School in Flagstaff, Arizona. It is 369 miles round trip but that has not deterred her in the least.

I asked my audience if anyone could jump ten feet in the air. A few giggles, but no one raised any hands. I then asked if anyone could climb a flight of stairs. Goal setting is just like that.

Each student started by recalling and writing a long-term goal they had met in the past. One student won a local skate competition. One student won first place at the regional science fair. One student learned to do a crossover in basketball. The group had a wide range of accomplishments and techniques for arriving at their respective achievements.

We then planned steps to achieve long-term academic or extracurricular goals: what can we do today to bring us closer to achievement? What can we do in the next week? In the next month? How about in a month or in six months?

By dissecting large, seemingly impossible feats into manageable daily or weekly goals, lofty dreams become daily victories. Sometimes the greatest encouragement toward success is success. I also asked students to find at least one person in the room to lean on for accountability and encouragement.

While positive thinking and inspirational quotes can be helpful for the psyche, the athletes, musicians, siblings, and scholars in the auditorium all knew that achievement was ultimately the result of understanding why a goal is worthwhile and how it can be attained.

In a month, I will check with these students to chart the progress of their goal setting and achievements. During that presentation, we’ll talk about habits and tools for high school success.

Reader to Reader’s Navajo Outreach Coordinator is funded through the generous support of the Fordham Street Foundation, the Hiatt Family Foundation, and Jean and Lynn Miller.

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