The beginning of the year means it’s time to think about GOALS! Goal setting for students might seem overwhelming, but it’s actually quite easy. What I love about teaching is that you actually get to focus on goal setting at the beginning of the school year and then again at the beginning of the new calendar year (at least here in the USA).
Goal Setting for Students 101
When it comes to goal setting, students need a lot of examples. Otherwise, their goals tend to be too broad. My students create three types of goals: personal, behavior, and academic goals. If this is your first time setting goals with students, I would pick one category at a time and build-up to all three.
Then I like to help narrow down students’ options by giving subcategories:
- Academic Goals: Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies
- Behavior Goals: Friendships, Time Management, Self Control
- Personal Goals: Health, Sports, Hobbies, Family
Next, I’ll help them narrow it down even more by giving examples of each subcategory. This helps students create their own goals, but also gives those students who have no idea what to choose, a place to start.
Students then write down their goals using the sentence frame:
I will __________________ by __________________.
I will __________________ by __________________ by _________________.
After students choose their goal, it’s important for students to come up with some ways or strategies to reach their goals. If you only have your students write a goal down and don’t come up with a plan to achieve it, then what’s the point of the goal?
If my goal is I will read 10 books by March 1, 2021, and I never come up with a strategy to achieve it or track the books I’m reading, how will I know if I’ve accomplished it?
However, if I decided on 2-3 strategies to help me achieve my goal, I’m more likely to do it.
So my strategies could be:
- I will go to the library and check out new books every month.
- I will read for 30 minutes each night before bed.
The most important part is to revisit your goals as often as possible. I like for my students to check in weekly with their goals. Every Wednesday, part of their morning work is to make sure their tracker is updated. When I first start goal setting with my students, I have quick 2-3 minute independent conferences to check in with them and see how their goals are going. After goal setting for a few months, students seem to get the hang of it.
After Winter Break Goal Setting
I like to freshen things up when we get back from Winter Break with a New Year’s celebration.
This sets the tone that everyone gets a fresh start. As students and teachers, we can always try to work toward becoming the best version of ourselves.
We spend the first week back discussing why people set New Year’s resolutions. And how most of the time they don’t work. I often refer to the fact that it’s because they don’t create strategies and check in on their progress as we do! But I also bring up that most of the time people just want life to be better.
Then I share with my students how I don’t set resolutions, but instead, I focus on one little word that will help me focus on becoming a better person. After I share with them my word for the year, then I walk them through the process of deciding on their own word.
I will display a list of words that will help students think about positive words and play some instrumental music while students are brainstorming.
We then write our word down on the banner. Students also look up a quote that goes along with their words and inspires them.
We display our words on our desks and in the classroom to remind us who we’re trying to become!