As an educator, you are well aware of the importance of goal setting. You are never without a specific set of goals for your students, your classroom, and yourself. But have you taken the time to work with your students on setting their own personal goals or talked about the importance of goal setting? Teaching our students about the importance of goal setting is giving them a powerful tool for their future success.
Most students already have goals without intentionally setting them. They simply need a little coaching to help them realize that they are and to develop a plan to achieve them. When you ask your class what their goals are, you may hear things like “to be a doctor” or “to have a big house”. While these are great long-term goals, now is the time to help them break these down into short-term, achievable goals that will start them on the road to great accomplishments in the future.
As you start the conversation, ask them to think of things that they’d like to accomplish this week, this month, or this school year. Help them to create a chart to measure their progress or a reminder of what they are working to achieve. Don’t forget to discuss the rewards they’ll reap when they reach their goals, whether they are material or intrinsic.
Helping Students with Goal Setting
As you help your students begin to set their own goals, here are some important tips to keep in mind:
Choose Something Measurable
It can be hard to stay on task and keep working toward your goals if you can’t see progress. When students are goal setting, they should choose goals that are measurable and should put in place a system of tracking their achievements.
Be Sure Goals are Realistic
Look at the time frame that your students have selected to reach their goals. Is this something that they can reasonably achieve with a little hard work? If not, help them break down their goal into smaller pieces that are more realistic.
Discuss What is Needed to Get There
Help your students to create a plan to reach their goal. Is there practice needed? Research? Extra studying? Talk about the steps that they will need to take and how much work they will need to put in to get there.
Revisit Goals Regularly
Have regular check-ins to see what kind of progress your students are making toward their goal. If they are struggling, talk about the reasons why they might not be at the point that they’d hoped. Do they need to put more time in? Have they chosen a goal that’s just a little too big for the timeframe? Help them analyze and re-adjust.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Remind your students of the great payoff that they’ll receive when their goal is reached. If they’re working toward something like getting an A in a specific subject, point out any increase in their grade and how wonderful it will feel to finally see the numbers that they are hoping for. If there is a physical reward, have them keep an image of their prize with their goal tracking materials.
Teaching students about setting goals is a wonderful exercise for any classroom. With clear, individual goals, you’ll see better focus and performance across the board as they begin to incorporate the lesson into all parts of their lives.