It’s a new year, a new month, and I’m almost willing to bet that most of you reading this have established some new goals for yourself! I know I have! But… have you ever thought about asking your students to set goals for themselves? I’m sure some of you have, depending on the age of your students. Goals can be set by kids of any age…. from the simplest to the complex.
Helping kids set goals is truly a win-win! Why? Because if you help them set a goal, they are more likely to complete the tasks you assign them because it probably helps them achieve their goal!!! See how that works? 🙂
So… let’s look at what setting goals accomplishes:
- allows students to choose where they want to go in school and what they want to achieve
- by knowing what they want to achieve, they know what they have to concentrate on and improve
- goal setting gives students long-term vision and short-term motivation
- having sharp, clearly defined goals, (which can be measured) will allow them to take pride in accomplishing those goals
- allows them to see clear forward progress in what might have seemed a long process
By setting goals students can:
1.improve their academic performance
2.increase their motivation to achieve
3.increase pride and satisfaction in performance
4.improve their self-confidence
The Process of Setting Goals
Express goals positively: “To improve my spelling” is a much better goal than “Don’t spell with so many mistakes.”
Be accurate: If students set an accurate goal, putting in dates, times and amounts so that achievement can be measured and can be satisfied at achieving it.
Set Priorities: When students have several goals, give each a priority. This helps them avoid feeling overwhelmed and helps their attention to the more important ones.
Write goals down to make them more meaningful.
Keep Goals Small: Urge students to keep their immediate goals small and achievable.
Set Goals Students Have Control Over: There is nothing worse than failing to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond the students’ control.
Set Specific Measurable Goals: If students consistently fail to meet a measurable goal, then they can adjust it or analyze the reason for failure and take appropriate action.
Setting Realistic Goals:
“Get an A in math”
“Become captain of the basketball team”
“Become a better student”
These are great goals to have, but are they realistic for that particular student? Is the goal specific or is it too broad? Is the goal clearly defined?
For example, getting an A in math is great, but does that mean an A on an assignment, on a unit test, or at the end of the term? These are three very different definitions of getting an A in math, so it is very important for students to clearly define what they would like to achieve. More importantly, is that A in math realistic for that particular student? If a child normally gets D’s in math, then it may be overwhelming to suddenly make that A. The fear is that a child who makes an unrealistic or poorly defined goal will not be successful and then feel disappointed in their perceived “failure.” If a student receives D’s in math, then it is probably more attainable to first try to achieve a B on the next math test and then work towards the A after that.
Developing a Step-By-Step Action Plan
Once teachers have worked with students to set a realistic goal, the next step is to develop an action plan that makes the goal more achievable. Students need to ask themselves, “What do I have to do in order to reach my goal?” It could be a monthly plan or a weekly check-in to reflect on their progress. For example, “I want to get a B on the next math test” might be the goal for the month. What can the student do to work towards this goal? Maybe completing all their homework, asking the teacher for extra help, and studying each night during the week of the test are the mini-goals. Each week, students can reflect on their progression towards their goal. This makes students accountable for their success and provides them with the opportunity to understand what they need to work on next.
Reflecting on the Journey
At the end of the month, students should reflect upon their journey and whether or not they achieved their goal. It’s important to discuss with students that not everyone in the class may reach their goals—this may be due to lack of effort, difficulties along the way, or circumstances beyond their control. Discuss with the students that reflecting on the journey is most often more important than the final outcome. For example, if the student’s goal was to get a B on the next math test, but they end up with a B-, should the student be disappointed that they did not achieve their goal? Are they a failure? No, of course not. This is the key lesson for students to realize—the journey to reach their goals is just as important (if not more important) than the outcome. If a student who normally gets D’s in math has begun to complete their homework, ask for extra help, and study for tests, then they are well on their way to attaining that B!!!
Too often, our students only focus on the end point instead of considering the entire journey. The key lesson for students is that determination, hard work, and reflective thought is needed in order to recognize an area for improvement and actively work to accomplish a change.
Here are some links for goal setting worksheets that I found around the net. 🙂
Interesting article about goal setting HERE
Enjoy! Cindy 🙂