Pick 1 Thing: 3 Reasons You Must Know Your Endgame

All, Teaching Tips

Endgame: The ultimate agenda or desired consequence of a planned series of events (often elaborate and unknown to outsiders).

~ Urban Dictionary

I recently wrote about my endgame (in What is Your Endgame? Passion or Commitment), because I think it is important for educators to think about their endgame regularly. We certainly want to think about our end game as we plan and prepare for a class. It is useful to think about our endgame while teaching to guide our work. Finally, when we are exhausted emotionally, intellectually, and physically at the end of the year/semester it can be comforting to think about our endgame and how much we have accomplished.

Every teacher needs to pick one thing that is nonnegotiable for them. Every teacher needs to know their bottom line. Here are three reasons why every teacher must know their endgame.

Focus

I have been teaching for a long time. Decades. My bag of teacher tricks is deep and yet I’m always discovering new ideas that I want to try. I hope when that is no longer true I turn in my papers and call it a day. However, this wealth of teaching strategies can often make it difficult to plan a semester let alone a lesson. There is so much ground I want to cover and so many interesting activities I want to use. Knowing my bottom line can be a real sanity saver because that is my ultimate litmus test for whatever shiny object is capturing my attention at the moment. Will that activity or lesson serve my bottom line?

Priority

Most teachers find themselves given a seemingly never-ending list of outcomes and tasks they need to accomplish in one year or semester. It can be so overwhelming you can quickly lose sight of your ultimate purpose. This list can seem impossible to achieve, but if you know your endgame and plan well then you can serve both masters – the institutional requirements as well as your own goals and hopes for your students. One way I manage the “priorities” that others have placed on my classes is to think about how I can conscript those objectives to serve my agenda.

Touchstone

Teaching is challenging and complex. There are so many moving pieces on the game table at any one time it can be easy to lose your way. I am in a constant losing battle with my to-do list, but keeping my endgame in view can help me set my priorities. Returning to that one single priority helps me weed through my course plan and lesson plans and eliminate those “pretty” weeds before they choke the beautiful blooms and healthy crops I hope to nurture.

Whenever things get crazy (as they are wont to do in the modern classroom) it helps me to pick one thing to care about — my endgame. Thinking about my endgame has been a solace and a guide. Do you know your endgame? How has your endgame helped you as a teacher? Does your endgame give your teaching focus? Does your endgame help you prioritize your class and lessons? Does your endgame serve as a touchstone for you and your students?

Artwork from Wikimeda Commons

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