Digital Leading and Learning

BHAG, the end to “Because I said so”

I was not familiar with the term BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) until it recently came up in a grad course discussion. Now that I understand it, I LOVE it, but I am struggling to think of one that I could use within my own classroom as a whole. I am always sure to connect every lesson and goal we have to my students’ lives so they are invested in them, but in trying to think of a goal that will inspire teamwork and help them develop throughout their lives I’m at a loss. I think a key to this will be the students. If I can include the students in creating and then tweaking our BHAG, it will mean that much more to them.

I believe this is similar to my current learning objectives/outcomes approach. I love including my students with these. I often have the objectives and outcomes in mind already, but I find it effective to have them also discuss and determine what they might be with me. Sometimes they come up with things I’ve never considered! That ownership helps students understand and buy in to the process.

Despite the fact that all educators I know understand connecting the dots is much more important than collecting them, we still focus on the latter more than we should. I believe this is because of a bunch of different things, one of which is the idea that students are just supposed to trust us. The adage “Because I said so” simply doesn’t work for most students, but because of a lack of time or energy or ___insert reason here____ we still revert back to it at times. I encourage my students to question me whether on an assignment or during a lesson because I want them to understand/lead and not simply follow. This is something that could be improved by using more peer collaboration. Asking students to reach goals through working with one another results in much more ownership than an expert telling them what to do.

I’m getting better at not being negative and expecting the worst with some of these idealistic situations, but one glaring issue does stand regarding all of this, and that is classroom dynamics. What if there is one student who doesn’t seem to get along with anyone? Has anyone discovered any peer collaboration methods that help that student fit in? Every year I have at least one student in this situation and it breaks my heart. Also, can there be multiple BHAGs for one course? It seems like because it is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal there isn’t room for more than one, but students might have different goals for different courses depending on their interests and personal objectives. No matter what, there will always be issues like these as that is the nature of the beast. The important thing is that I (and all educators) keep trying to connect purpose to the standards embedded in our curriculum. Without purpose, those dots will disappear.


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