Master Teaching

a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher

I can

I can Statements

One of my colleagues has been using “I can” statements instead of learning objectives. (Some examples are in the photo.) This past semester, she wrote manageable and measurable “I can” statements for each intensive reading unit, shared them with students at the beginning, and then asked them to self-assess at the end. As a result, her students seemed to have a better understanding of their progress, and in the process, she also took steps toward her professional development goal of helping students take ownership of learning.

During the last year or more under pandemic limitations, our life, it seems, has been taken over by “I can’t” statements. Some of mine might include, “I can’t leave my Chinese province,” or “I can’t go home to see my family.” As teachers, our list of “I can’t” statements may be even longer especially if we’re teaching online. “I can’t see, hear, interact, engage, watch, differentiate, manage, help…”

Without making light of the challenges of teaching during this pandemic, I wonder if we need a set of “I can” statements to work toward especially if we’re looking ahead to another semester online. I’ve listed a few potential ones below. What would you add?

  • I can engage my students interactively using our online platform.
  • I can design individual and group activities that help students figure out new information, process, practice, and learn.
  • I can manage my online classroom with order and patience.
  • I can interact with students one-on-one or in small groups using an online platform we’re both comfortable with.
  • I can encourage my students to take ownership of learning and life.
  • I can help my students face the emotional challenges of the current world.
  • I can manage my own emotions.
  • I can balance work and rest.

In my mentoring, I ask teachers to choose three benchmarks to work toward during a semester of teaching, and then we narrow down further to just one. We spend the next few weeks collaboratively figuring out how to reach their chosen benchmark. Which of the “I can” statements above stand out to you? Which one would you like to focus on over the next semester of teaching? Who could help you figure out smaller steps to take toward your goal?

With another semester of limitations looming, instead of focusing on the negative, let’s embrace the positive. Rather than seeing impossibilities, let’s create possibilities. Instead of being overwhelmed by the challenges, let’s break them down into manageable solutions. Rather than using the pandemic as an excuse to resort to old, familiar and easier ways of teaching, let’s use it as opportunity and inspiration to innovate. Most importantly, no matter where we are or how limited our circumstances, nothing can separate us from the Master Teacher’s love. We always have “in-person” access to Him.

  • I can commune with the Master regularly about teaching and life.
  • I can feed on the sustenance in His Word.
  • I can take my students, colleagues, and friends before His throne.
  • I can rest in Him.

Further exploration

What’s your perspective?

We welcome your comments on any of the ideas in this post or in answer to the questions below.

  • What “I can” statements would you add to the two lists in this post?
  • Which of the “I can” statements stand out to you? Which one would you like to focus on over the next semester of teaching?
  • Who could help you figure out smaller steps to take toward your goal?

Post Author

Melissa K. Smith

2 comments on “I can

  1. Jill Schafhauser
    August 21, 2021

    I am getting to some very old emails.  Obviously.  I really really like this content.  Thank you.  Recently I bought some post-it notes at Target.  At they top it says For Today then there are two boxes.  The top box says More of this.  The bottom box says Less of that.   It’s been nice in a time of general discouragement to remind myself of what I need more and less of.I’m heading out for a silent retreat this weekend.  I’ll be lifting you.  If there is anything specific since our meeting, just let me know.Happy weekend!  


    • Melissa
      August 21, 2021

      Oh. I like the idea of those post-its. My desk at the office has a white board as part of it. I’m envisioning a chart for “more ofs” and “less ofs”. Thanks for the idea! 🙂 Enjoy your retreat. May your communion with the Master be especially meaningful and refreshing! Thanks for the lifting. And for the feedback. 😉


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This entry was posted on July 14, 2021 by in goals, in a pandemic, Melissa K. Smith, online teaching, professional development.



Photo Credit: Eric Fischer via Compfight cc
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