Classroom Management

Meaningful Goal Setting for Students for the New Year

Happy New Year! Do you have your New Year’s resolutions yet? Or have you already given up on them? It happens! However, I still believe that setting goals for the New Year can be a GREAT thing when done correctly. The new year provides new opportunities for growth and a fresh start. This goes for our students, as well. If you’ve never had your students think about their resolutions before, check out these tips for goal setting for students.

Brainstorm Possible Goals

The first step students (or anyone) should take in setting meaningful goals is to brainstorm areas of improvement. Before having your students write out their goals, allow them time to think and reflect. Encourage students to not only focus on areas in which they struggle, but also on their strengths. This can help them in developing an effective plan to meet their goals.

Students should write down both their strengths AND weaknesses. You can prompt them with questions like the following:

  • What are you good at?
  • What do you struggle with?
  • List 3 of your favorite qualities about yourself.
  • What is something that’s really hard for you?
  • What is an area in which you’d like to improve?

Once students have brainstormed ideas, they can move onto the next step of goal setting for students.

Goal setting for students - Brainstorm and make those goals S.M.A.R.T.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting for Students

Now that students have some ideas to work from, they can start writing their goals. The most effective goals are S.M.A.R.T. goals, which is an acronym used to help set goals that are achievable. Walk students through the process as they determine their goals. Let’s walk through the process of improving the student goal of “Do better in math.”

  • Specific. First, goals should be specific. “Do better in math” is very vague, and therefore hard to accomplish. This goal needs to be made more specific by adding real numbers or deadlines. For example, “Get an A in math on my next report card” or “Make an 85 or higher on my next math test.”
  • Measurable. Goals should be easy to track. There should be some sort of easy way to determine if a goal is being met. In our sample example, this is easy because grades are constantly being documented. For other goals, such as personal growth, this will be harder.
  • Attainable. The goal needs to be realistic! If a student wishes to do better in math, but is currently failing, making all A’s from here on out is probably not attainable. The focus here is on improvement, NOT perfection. Students should consider where they currently are and what they can reasonably accomplish when setting goals.
  • Relevant. Goals should be relevant to the student. If a student does not play soccer, setting a soccer-related goal doesn’t make much sense. In our example, most students do in fact take math, but if by chance they did not, they shouldn’t be setting an improvement goal for math.
  • Time-bound. Goals should have a set deadline. “Getting an A in math” is not an effective goal, because there is no urgency in achieving it. Students should set a short-term deadline for achieving their goal. “Get an A in math by the end of the quarter” is a great example of a time-bound goal.
Writing SMART goals for students

Regular Goal Check-Ins

Once students have written their S.M.A.R.T. goals, set up a plan for having regular goal check-ins. This is a time, maybe once a month, when students can take time to reflect on and re-evaluate their goals. Have they accomplished their goals? If not, why? If so, how can they step it up even more? Allow time for students to think about their goals and update them as needed.

Goal refresh for students

Support Students in Achieving Their Goals

As a teacher, you have an amazing opportunity to support your students in reaching their goals! Provide them opportunities to practice. Encourage them daily. Consider setting up a spot in your classroom to remind students of their goals and recognize those who are making progress.

For example, you could make a student goal-setting bulletin board that displays students goals and features one “Goal-Getter” of the week!

Goal setting for students - set up a bulletin board to support student goals!

Student goal setting can be a really great way to start out the new year in your classroom! Do you work with your students to set meaningful goals? If not, consider starting! It could make a huge difference in your classroom environment.

If you’re interested in the goal setting resources pictured in this post, click here to view more.

Do you have your students set goals in your classroom?


How to set meaningful goals for students

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