Helping Students Identify Moonshot Goals
By Kyle Bylin
Last week, I taught my first Nice Idea lesson. I enjoyed asking students questions, hearing their answers, and challenging them to dig deeper.
As I read from the facilitator cards, I wondered if the group understood what I was saying because their faces looked blank. I feared that some of the sentences sounded like the words of an alien from outer space.
The students were looking at me, and the room’s silence seemed to suck up energy like a black hole. Standing in front of the class and convincing them that these exercises were valuable felt intimidating.
Earlier that day, I had paced back and forth, reading lines from the cards, and asking questions to an empty room. Now, I found myself in a classroom filled with students. I felt like a wildlife photographer who has long dreamed of going to Africa and now faced hungry lions.
The students likely wouldn’t eat me. But they could still try to pounce.
The first Nice Idea lesson asks students to identify a moonshot goal and then, it challenges them to break it down into smaller chunks.
First, I talked with the students about their moonshot goal and why it was important to them. One of them said their lofty goal would be to graduate from high school. Another wished to become a radiologist.
A third aimed to be a physical therapist. Another student played with his cross necklace and participated halfheartedly. He finally said that he wanted to start a high fence ranch and raise exotic animals for hunting.
Then I asked the students what would contribute to their success and help them reach their goals. They wrote down what they thought they would need to be successful. Then they placed them into “resource” or “obstacle” columns on their notebook paper. Once they identified a few obstacles, we brainstormed some resources that might overcome them.
Next, I challenged them to think of things they could do within five minutes, five days, and five months to get started on the moonshot. Through this exercise, students are asked to think of small steps they can take to do a task instead of feeling overwhelmed by a large one.
Last, I told students that success is never a sure thing when working on a goal. You must be prepared to fail, celebrate your effort, and make another attempt. I asked the students how they might stumble when they tackled their goals and how they could celebrate trying.
My first teaching experience went well. I loved being the teacher for an hour. I wish I had more time to get to know the students, but I had to focus on delivering the lesson. The students looked a bit skeptical and preoccupied at first, but they still participated and followed along.
I believe the students understood the point of the lesson. Once they left the room, some of them may have forgotten everything I said. But a few of them may have thought about their moonshot while driving home. I might have even become a brief conversation topic at dinner.
Maybe they shared that a guy named Kyle visited their classroom and rambled about moonshot goals. I’ll never know what their experience was like, but I’m still eager to go back next week and teach again.
Interacting with high school students is fun because they still have their entire lives ahead of them. Perhaps their moonshot goal now feels like a place they could reach. It’s not a distant planet in a vast universe.