A year after the launch of most of Thriving’s Peer Learning Communities, members are still asking, “What is a learning goal?” As designers of the process we mistakenly thought that our step by step guide would help peer members break down many of the questions they are asking into discreet issues that can be addressed. Thriving is learning that separating the inevitable and common ministry questions that nest within questions which nest within context which nest with personalities, histories, and relationships is a complex task. To help identify what is a learning goal, here are some examples.
A learning goal is personal, individualized and a question when answered will have a direct impact on your situation. For example, to expand your leadership capacity you have to learn about the parish’s complex history with money. A learning goal would be listing ten people with whom you could have a conversations and who can share different perspectives.
Or, a learning goal is separating out the gold nuggets in feedback. Imagine you continually receive feedback that your voice is too high, too low, or just right. Perhaps one group wants an adult sermon at family worship and another wants a children’s sermon. Perhaps the vestry is accustomed to a very tight meeting schedule that some members say does not leave enough time for discussion. Yet other say the vestry has a long-standing practice of discussing and not deciding. A learning goal would be separating out the themes so that you can act to change what you decide needs to be addressed. Do you need to work on your diction, slow down, speed up, say less, or say more? Is the adult sermon group asking for a sermon or another form of faith formation? Is it preferences in the vestry, or, does someone who need a longer time to process, or, does all the discussion of certain issues need to happen at the meetings?
A learning goal is immediately applicable to your context and will help you. Thriving would like to rename “Learning Goal” to make more sense to our members. What would you call it?