Driving Effort with Pictures of the Future

I am always looking for examples of stories that illustrate the formula that I presented in Tapping Student Effort…Increasing Student Achievement:

Effort X Ability focused on a Manageable Task = Success

During a recent training in Ohio, I heard about Melanie, a 7th grader who was excited about being chosen to start tuba lessons. As I heard the rest of the story, it is Melanie’s plan to one day “Dot the I” for The Ohio State University Band.

Here is a video clip of a recent band member having the experience.

I interviewed Melanie and her mom Christie. Notice the parts of the EFFORT formula in their story.

Describe what experience(s) created the initial desire to “dot the I”?
How did this fit with interest that Melanie had previously shown?

Melanie: There wasn’t any definite moment I decided. We have visited OSU campus a few times since it is where my dad went to college. I’ve seen their band on TV, in person and in videos. I think that along with the desire to go to OSU and my love of music I just knew it was something I wanted to do. It will be challenging, but I’m up for it!

Christie: When we introduced the kids to the OSU band she took it right in. It wasn’t too hard to figure out that the band member “dotting the I” was pretty special. She got that look in her eyes, that twinkle, like she had just seen the most amazing sight in her life. It was obvious to everyone around us that she was determined to be that special band member one day.

What effort had to be made to get to this point in working toward the goal?

Melanie: I have been in band since 5th grade. I started off playing the trombone, which I truly love. We had the chance to switch instruments in the first few weeks of 7th grade. There were about 10 of us competing for only 2 openings for the tuba. This was my chance to start my journey to “dotting the I”. Obviously I made it which really excites me. Now I have plenty of practice and hard work ahead of me to achieve my goal.

Melanie, what effort do you think you’ll need to achieve your goal?
I know I will have to be a leader, maintain a high GPA and practice, practice, practice.

Christie: The only effort on our part, honestly, was to instill the importance of hard work, respect and the ability to know they can do anything they believe they can. Kids also need to be taught that they are expected to succeed. There’s no two ways about it.

How did Melanie communicate her interest across time? How did she know her parents supported her interest?

Christie: Melanie has a gift in music. She loves classical, musicals, anything. She looked forward to the day she was able to join band. Melanie just plain said she will go to OSU, play tuba and one day dot that I.

Melanie: My parents have always told me that nothing is impossible if you work hard enough.

Melanie, is there a picture in your mind of the future when you achieve your goal? How clear/detailed is the picture?

Melanie: You know, I am not really picturing anything specific. I am really just looking forward to the “feeling” I will have when they announce my name as one of the 4th year seniors who will “dot the I”. I am also looking forward to the moment I get to tell both my parents and my band directors that I finally made it!

My Thoughts….
-Melanie is future focused. While I called it a picture, it’s a feeling for her…personal pride and accomplishment which she wants to share with important adults in her life.

-Melanie and her parents recognize ability….a talent in music.

-Note the manageable task on the way to a goal. Starting with trombone lessons and playing well to make the tryout for tuba….the GPA to get accepted into OSU. The big goal is broken into manageable tasks to achieve along the way.

-Finally recognizing the role of effort (hard work) and a belief system best defined by….

Melanie: I really think that people need to realize that you can do anything you want to, you just have to believe. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about passing math class or “dotting the I”. A goal is a goal.

Earlier blogs on EFFORT:
Effort and Work

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Steve Barkley

For the past 30 years, Steve has served as a consultant to school districts, teacher organizations, state departments of education, and colleges and universities nationally and internationally, facilitating the changes necessary for them to reach students and successfully prepare them for the 21st century. Read more…

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