Five Steps for Setting Student Goals

December 9, 2013

As the second half of the school year draws near, it’s the perfect time to assess how far your students have come, and where you want them to go.

Student goal setting is a major part of that process. When students set their own goals, they not only feel a sense of control over their own learning process, but they also learn a major life skill. Huge accomplishments are often based on small goals. When setting goals for your class, here are a few considerations:

1. Academic goals, behavioral goals – or both? Where do your students need the most improvement? Are there Common Core standards that need to be achieved before the end of the year? Some students may need extra self-discipline help. Whatever the goal, start by looking at your classroom from a big-picture perspective.

 2. Provide examples. Introduce the process of goal setting to students by providing examples. If you’ve achieved a personal goal, show students how you determined your goal by outlining the steps you took to achieve it. You can also present examples of famous goal-setters like Michael Jordan and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who both encouraged people to approach their dreams one step at a time. Emphasize that spending time working towards your goal – even when you’re discouraged — can lead to great things. As Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

3. Have students analyze their own data. Using existing materials as a basis – report cards, test scores, or even a discipline scale – sit down one-on-one with students to discuss their performance. Where are they now? Where do they want to go, and by when? Being part of the process helps students experience a feeling of ownership over their achievements.

4. Encourage small goals. As you work with students to determine their goals, develop small, achievable steps. Concrete, attainable goals help improve student confidence.

5. Follow up.  When goals are small, you have the opportunity to follow up soon after they’re set. Encourage students to let you know when they achieve their goals. After some well-deserved kudos, together decide on the next goal.

Do you work with students to set goals? What’s your student goal-setting process?

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