Stepping Into New Goals in the New Year


As the holiday season winds up in the blink of an eye, we have to start thinking about ways to make next year better. Setting personal goals as well as setting goals in the classroom is an important practice not only for you but for your students as well. In order to help your students set goals for themselves, practice the following steps.

Step 1 Define It!: Like any good lesson, you have to define what you want them to do; it’s hard to teach plot if they don’t know what it means. One way to help students understand what a goal is would be to teach them through the use of an informational text or a story depending on your age group. You can use informational texts that are written by or about athletes like Adam Thielen who worked his way up from the practice squad to being one of the best players in the NFL. If you are students are younger, you can read stories like Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack or Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller are great tools.

Step 2 Plan It!: After you have defined the goal, make sure you help students plan it. This can be accomplished with SMART planning according an article by Scholastic. A SMART plan ensures that your goals meet the following criteria:

  • S: Specific. In this section students will state exactly what they want to accomplish. It’s also a good spot to start so you can monitor if the goal is realistic or necessary.
  • M: Measurable. You have to know when you have reached your goal for your goal to be effective. In this section, students will write “I will know I have reached my goal when…”.
  • A: Attainable. This is a great checkpoint for students. They can look back and reflect on what their goal is and the amount of time they gave themselves. It’s here they can look back and see what they have written down and ensure it is something they can do.
  • R: Realistic and Relevant. Understanding if this is attainable is the first check but then students can check again to make sure their goal is important and something that is useful to them. When you ask students to set a goal, some of them may come up with something just to get it done. This is where they can justify their choices. To make sure your students goals are relevant, you can put boundaries on what you want them to make goals about.
  • T: Time. When looking at time, your students need to make sure they are giving themselves enough time but not too much time to complete the task. In this scenario, I would suggest having students make a timeline with their goal in mind. This can become a fun activity where students make a path or another form of measurement they can fill in as they are working towards achieving their goal.

When planning your goals, it’s great to make a visual tracker for your students. Make sure you encourage your students to make not only academic goals but personal goals as well.

Step 3 Reflect: Not only is it important for your students to have a visual tracker as they work towards their goals; it’s also important they reflect on them. When you teach students to reflect on their goals, you are teaching them to look at things that worked while working towards their goals and what they didn’t do so well. This will teach them how to better achieve their goals in the future and you can discuss how they overcame various obstacles.

Step 4 Celebrate!: It’s so important to help your students celebrate their goals. Make sure the celebration fits the accomplishment. I remember getting a free personal pan pizza after reading so many books when I was in elementary school and I was so proud of that pizza! It encouraged me to keep reading so I could keep getting those coupons! If it is a class goal that is reached, maybe having a small class party or allowing your students some extra outside time or even a movie could be appropriate.

Setting goals individually is great, but you may want to start small. If your students aren’t ready to set their own goals yet, then you could set a goal as a class. For example, you may set a goal with AR points or getting a certain percentage on Smarter Balance testing. Whether the goal is individual or class wide, the important thing is you are teaching a skill; goal setting is an important skill to have in order to grow in the New Year.

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