Purpose Statements

purpose statements Mar 30, 2021

I have to admit that I'm a big fan of the word purpose. Purpose should drive everything that we do in the classroom and give both ourselves and our learners a reason for the work.  The definition of purpose is "the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists."  

Our purpose has to go beyond "because it's included in our list of standards or because it's on the test".  Instead, the purpose has to connect to life beyond the classroom.  How can learners apply what they are learning to their right now?  While this is important for us to consider as we design an experience, I don't think it's necessary for us to make the connection for them.  Instead, I think we should challenge our learners to consider how they will apply what they've learned.  The question is, "How can we do this in a way that is both manageable and meaningful?".

Most learning experiences start with an objective or a statement that clearly defines the desired outcome.  I think objectives are important and help us, as educators, identify a target that we are trying to hit through the learning experience that we design.  However, objectives are rarely personal for our learners and making it personal means making it meaningful.

So, how do we do that?  I think that this can be achieved through encouraging our learners to create purpose statements at the end of a learning experience.  You could almost see objectives and purpose statements as bookends.  One at the beginning, one at the end, both holding the learning in place.  

I'm not going to lie.  I like simple.  Sometimes, the most simple tasks can be the most meaningful and are always the most manageable.  That being said, I think purpose statements can be as simple as asking our learners to complete this statement, "Today I learned _____________________, so that I can _____________________. " 

‚ÄčThe "so that" part of this statement is most important.  It's the connection between what they've learned in the classroom to what they experience beyond the walls of the classroom.  A learner's  "so that" might connect to sports, media, art, or something else that they see as a priority or interest.  The reality is that if we can help them realize how they might utilize what they've learned in a real way, the learning will be more meaningful and more likely to stick.  

Purpose statements can be written or documented using something like Google Slides.  I do think it's important that they are created in a place that can be reviewed over time so that learners can go back to acknowledge all they are they are able to DO because of all that they have LEARNED.  


So, what do you think?  Could you take things to another level by adding purpose statements to your daily routine to make learning more meaningful? I definitely think it's something to consider.  If you make this a reality in your classroom, I'd love to hear how it goes.  Please feel free to share in the comments below!