Setting Goals with Los Nogales

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The days on which we teach Foundational Lessons can sometimes be difficult. The lessons often involve guided discussions, and it is possible to lose students during this portion of the lesson if they get distracted and disengaged. That being said, sometimes they really surprise us with their thoughtful and candid responses. Monday was one of those days.

With three back-to-back English classes followed by a thirty-minute lunch break before our Chicas Dinámicas class, Mondays are definitely a marathon rather than a sprint. Larkin had the bad luck of food poisoning early in the morning, and so I found myself alone on what was sure to be an extremely long day. Not only did I introduce new material in our English classes and facilitate a rowdy game of bingo, but I also knew that it would be ultimately problematic to deviate from our schedule. So I solo-taught a foundational lesson in the afternoon. I wasn’t looking forward to the day, but I was nothing if not determined to see it through to the end.

The English classes went fine, and I had a good lunch of ají de pollo at the tiny restaurant next to the school before class. A bad head cold has swept over virtually all of Cusco in the last week, and so I wasn’t sure how many students were going to show up for class. I waited a little longer than usual and eventually five girls showed up—not our best attendance but actually a good number for the lesson.

The lesson was on Leadership and Goal-Setting, and so I divided the group into two and set goals for how many successful passes they could complete with a football before dropping it. Then I had the girls line up down the court and work as one big team to set a goal for the number of seconds in which they could pass the ball all the way down the line and back. This took a quite a few tries but they were ultimately successful and very happy with their time of fifteen seconds.

Next it was time for the ‘discussion’ … I fearlessly plunged into our topics about the importance of setting goals and distinguishing long-term from short-term goals. The girls turned out to be quite focused and provided great answers once we went back over the importance of raising one’s hand and waiting to be called on. The remaining parts of the activity included dividing up into groups to think of examples of short and long term goals, followed by writing down individual goals for school, Chicas Dinámicas, and their home or  community.

I was truly surprised by the thought and consideration that most of the girls put into their individual goals. Many of them wanted to graduate from university and have successful careers, and several of them expressed a desire to ‘be their own person’ and ‘set an example’ for younger siblings and peers in their communities. These girls are only in fifth and sixth grade! I was so proud of their long term and short term goals. Two of them expressed that one of their Chicas Dinámicas goals was to pay close attention and show up on time to all classes to be ready to help out the new profes when they arrive in July, and this was so great to hear from them. I suggested to the girls that they could maybe take home their goal sheets and show them to their parents. Many were excited to do so.

Monday was definitely a long day, but it was so gratifying to hear such thoughtful responses from my girls at Los Nogales. I will definitely never forget how proud I was of my girls during this lesson.