Alzar School | 09.03.16

Classes are in full swing as the school is in its third week of academics down in the Lake District of Chile. Coming off of our first two full-length expeditions in Patagonia, each student also came away from their first experience being a designated Leader of the Day (LOD) (more accurately – leader of two days). During this experience, students were supported by faculty to explore different leadership styles, self-reflect on what worked well and what they wish to work on, and take feedback from their peers and from staff in order to gain a clearer vision of the infinite ways that leading can look.

To start our weeks of Leadership classes here in the Lakes District, my co-teacher, Ned, and I asked students to write SMART goals for each of the four major components of their experience here at the Alzar School: Academics, Technical Proficiency, Leadership, and Cultural/Language. While we hope that all goals are thought out and intelligible, SMART goals stand for something more. To be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Academics and Technical Proficiency tend to be the easiest for students to articulate, for example:

“To have above a 90% in all classes by Parent’s Weekend”


“To study for the ACT two nights a week (1 hour each) while in Chile, and four nights a week while in Idaho, until taking the exam this spring”


“To be able to roll a kayak 8 out of 10 times in flat water by the time we leave Chile”. 

Goals surrounding language acquisition and leadership skills tend to be more abstract and harder to measure. Some of the more articulate include the following:

“To be able to order a meal and ask what ingredients were used (in Spanish), and understand the response, by the time we leave Chile.” 


“In my next designated leadership role on expedition I will receive positive feedback from my peers and staff on my ability to communicate clearly with my co-LODs, and I will check-in with my co-LODs before announcing plans/ideas to the group as a whole.”


“I will improve my personal leadership on expedition by waking up 20 minutes earlier than the designated time, and be ready at the time designated by the LODs.”

Students have shared goals with one another, and peers and staff will help hold each other accountable. Many ask for feedback and an increased awareness of both the positive and detrimental impact we can have on one another in the community.

Many of the students set high standards for themselves and what they hope to see themselves accomplish during their semester and beyond. This culture of challenging one another to work hard, improve, increase awareness, and keep pushing, is one that inspires me to continue my own leadership progression and quest for growth. It is a culture that I feel fortunate to be apart of.

*I challenge you to write a SMART goal for your upcoming month.