Why you should be setting goals with your students
Once everyone returns from winter break, teachers will be asking students for their New Year’s Resolutions. New Year’s is the prime time for a fresh start and setting new goals. However, I would encourage you to be setting goals with your students all year long.
The Importance of Setting Goals in the Classroom
Often times our students get caught up in the day to day of school and home. They fall into routine and they lose their purpose in showing up every day. That’s why setting goals and achieving them is so important. It gives students purpose and motivation.
We want our students to pick goals that matter to them and will help them grow as a person. This often requires building relationships with students and asking them if anything was possible what would you like to achieve and why
Strategies for Setting Goals
When setting goals with my students I always start by conferencing with students. This doesn’t have to be long, just a few minutes is perfect. Using data shows them where they currently are, but keep it positive. For example, “Jenny you’re very strong in reading; however, our test grades have been low. Why do you think that is?” I try to always complement and give feedback. I also allow my students to make the decisions and determine the reasons behind setting up goals.
After our conference, we use a SMART goal setting worksheet for students. (You can grab one for free here). By using the SMART method, students can create meaningful, specific goals and have a specific time frame they would like to accomplish this goal by
When setting SMART goals for students be sure that the goal is
S-Specific – What exactly do you want to accomplish. For example, “I want my reading level to go up” is not a specific enough goal. However, I want to increase my reading level by 5 points
M-Measurable – How will you measure your goal?
A-Attainable – Is this a goal that can be reached with your available resources (typically the answer is yes).
R-Relevant – Is this goal relevant to your life? Will this get you where you want to be?
T-Has a specific date or time – Are you setting a long term goal? Or are you setting a short term goals?
Below are a list of short term goals examples for students:
- “I will read 20 minutes a night before bed for the next month. I will accomplish this goal by 1/31/19 by setting a timer and reading to my little brother.”
- “I want to have straight As in all my main subjects by 6/22/19. I will do this by limiting my screen time and replacing it with extra time to study. I will also use Quizlet and Kahoot for review.”
Common examples of learning goals for students include wanting straight As or getting 100% on every test…but what does that mean to them? Does that mean their writing must improve? Does that mean they do their homework every night? Which I fully support, but I always explain to my students that this is a marathon not a sprint and it’s going to take dedication. I want my students to learn that if they want something in life, they can’t give up. I try to instill a growth mindset from day one.
Other Setting Goals Classroom Activities
- Vision Board – A vision board is a collage of pictures and words that represent a person’s dreams and desires. They are designed to serve as a source of inspiration and motivation. Vision Boards are a fun way to plan long term goals and get students excited about their goals. It’s also a great way for students to visually see when they’ve accomplished specific goals.
- Power List – The power list is a list of 5 critical tasks that students need to get done that day. When they are all completed, students have “won the day.” These critical tasks are designed to be steps that get students closer to their goals.
Now I know some of you are thinking…”whoa that’s a lot for our students to handle and a little too intense.” But is it really? We want our students to be successful and completing tasks that are in line with our goal is how you become successful. I’ll give you an example using school only… (their list may include outside activities as well).
- Read for 15 minutes
- Study 15 minutes for social studies test on Friday
- Write down all my assignments for the week
- Complete vocabulary center
- Ask Miss. B for extra help on Inferencing
In the past, my students have had their Power List velcroed to their desk. They write on it using dry erase markers so it can be used and reused all year! Another great option would be writing it in their homework planner!
Overall, we want to encourage our students to take responsibility and reach for bigger goals. My students feel SO PROUD once they’ve accomplished their goal and can see their growth.