When Goals Are the Goal

I found this quote in the data for a chapter I am preparing for publication:

We spent so much time trying to decide if the goals were specific, measurable, and all of the other adjectives for the acronym, we had no time to think about what we were going to do. Even when we decided we had to adjust the goals, we focused on redefining the goals rather than explaining why we thought the goals needed to be changed. We never seemed to get to the root cause of the problem.

The principal was describing the observation that motivated her to adopt a new strategy for planning and decision-making. This principal was enthusiastic and in her third year leading the school that was her first principalship. She had become frustrated with the “focus on goals that predated my time” at the school. In the time I worked with her, she was interested in helping the staff worry less about “their goals and measuring them” and more with “relationships with the students.”

Perhaps most telling story I found in her interview data was summarized in one sentence in which she summarized how she refocuses teachers:

“Tell me,” she asks about goals, “how is your relationship with students going to change when they meet that goal?”