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Melbourne, VIC, Australia
2nd Grade Teacher at a school in Melbourne, Australia. My job: push kids to think. My passion: helping kids to tackle the life-long skill of searching for meaning, skills, answers and more questions.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Abolishing Homework helped me to lose 30kg (66lbs)

April 2013
November 2011
 No kidding....  I am currently exactly 30kg lighter than I was on September 29th of last year.

I owe most of this weight loss to my local pool, some amazing bike paths, my inspiring workout-buddies, my drastically improved diet and a few other 'push factors'.

 However, this milestone has also been made possible by my ongoing journey into the land of Home Learning.  My decision to no longer set homework has borne some pretty fascinating fruits - this is the story of one very sweet fruit for me on a personal level.

Speaking of fruits - actually eating a healthy breakfast each day.... who knew!!!?

Tomorrow, I will be helping my year 4 kids set goals once again.  SMART goals to be precise.  I've written about these before, but I'm so pumped about them this time around because I am going to share something pretty personal with my class as part of the story.  I am going to share this blog post with them - pictures and all..... yikes.

This is the story of a teacher who decided to set SMART goals for himself!

I have spent years helping kids set goals.  I did it pretty ineffectively if I'm going to be honest.  Even when I discovered SMART goals, I helped kids set these and then helped them to forget them.  So many times, the busy world and 'crowded curriculum' managed to send these aspirations to the bottom of a desk or the back of a book - never to be thought of again.

When I decided that I could not set homework anymore, I realised early on that SMART goals would have to be a major part of my platform to parents.  I knew that parents would fear a system that relied upon student-directed learning and motivation.  SMART goals would be my way of ensuring that each kid had clear aspirations.


I can't remember the exact day that I first saw that line on Pinterest, but it changed me.
Imagine my delight when I discovered it came from my favourite childhood book, The Little Prince!
This line changed everything!

Share This Quote - Then Take Up Home Learning!

 Of course - these kids needed a plan for how they could achieve their goals.  They needed to know that their dreams were possible only if they identified HOW to achieve them.  They needed to identify which computer programs, which books, which tv shows, which activities would help them to achieve their goals. 

Tomorrow we map out our plans, just like my bike rides.  We will know how, when, where and why.  Exciting stuff.  We need to empower our kids with the HOW - most of all.  

With this epiphany fresh in my mind, I was met with a sudden and personal bombshell in September.  I found myself looking hard in the mirror and deciding that if change was upon me (which indeed it was), then I would set some SMART goals of my own and make it a change 'for the good'.

You've seen this before.  SOOOOO important to revisit these goals constantly.

All of that 'guru-like' jibber-jabber with my students about how they could change their own worlds suddenly came around and stared back at me in the mirror.  All 115kg of me was staring back saying, 'I gotta shed this weight!'  Thanks to Home Learning and the process I'd taken my class through, I knew that the next step was to set some goals, make a plan, stick to that plan and work hard!
I'm not being flippant or silly here...  without that process fresh in my mind, I would certainly have still liked the idea of losing weight, but I sincerely doubt that I would have done anything significant or lasting about it. 
I had just accepted that I was a 'big fella' who was always going to be... a 'big fella'.  Here, Brucie and I observe the transit of Venus with a telescope in our quadrangle.  This was a fun day.  Brucie has of course been one of my inspirations.

The Home Learning Process is ALL ABOUT students finding that element of their lives and their learning that they WANT to improve.  It is then ALL ABOUT setting SMART goals.  It is then ALL ABOUT finding out what they can do to achieve these goals.  It is then ALL ABOUT timetabling in the time in our busy lives to DO WHAT IT TAKES - to stick to your plan.  

My hope - my sincere hope is that my students inspire each other with their successes.  
I have been inspired by so many people in my own journey.  I want my students to discuss how they have learned new skills with each other.  
I want them to build habits of mind, body and soul that will help them to succeed in an ever-changing world.  

I want them to see learning as a life-long process....  I want them to aim high and never stop trying. 

I'm sounding more like a hippy now.... Oooops.
We all NEED THEM to realise that becoming a self-confident, reliable, considerate, empathetic, mindful, thoughtful, dignified, respectful, intelligent person is TOTALLY UP TO THEM! 

The Home Learning process - and my very fortunate OCD about practising what I preach - helped me to set a path for myself to lose those 66lbs.  My journey was kick-started by circumstances outside of my own control.  A crisis and an opportunity presented themselves at once.  I called it a 'crisi-tunity'.

From this...
...to this.
 I set a goal.
I devised a plan.
I set a timetable for myself.
I set some ground rules to keep myself honest.
I stuck to the timetable.
I continually revised the plan.
I achieved the goal.

What's left to do now is to show these kids tomorrow that their goals are important, possible and ready & waiting for them to take that first step.  

Tomorrow, for my own Home Learning, I'll continue to persevere with my latest goal. 
Mandarin is a tough language to learn... but 'wo de zhong wen jinbula... yee dien dien.'


Lindy Buckley said...

Congratulations Richard. Great work all round!

Peter Wilson said...

An inspiration to us all and a well written article.

Bruce Ferrington said...

Blackie - great stuff buddy! I've been spreading the word about Home Learning as I travel - there has been considerable interest. Keep it up!

Nancy C said...

Congrats! I started using SMART goals with my students and somewhere along the line - we never checked back. This needs to be something we start at the beginning of the year and continue (like you have done!). I love the conferencing piece as well.

Interestingly, in our district and across our state (Mass. USA) I believe that part of our evaluation system will include SMART goals for ourselves. This will help as the students and I can work on our goals together.

I have been following your HOME Learning and am fascinated by it. It is something I think I'd like to try next year (as I know homework needs to be meaningful).

Thank you for your inspiration!!!