Setting Student Goals: Tips and a Freebie!

Learning to set goals is an important skill. Among other things, setting goals:
  • Helps students to identify where issues or challenges are occurring.
  • Requires students to make a realistic plan to solve the problem/achieve the goal.
  • Empowers students to make positive changes in their lives.

That is why I created this easy-to-use goal-setting worksheet that can be used three different times throughout the school year (fall, winter, spring).

Student goal setting is an often underestimated facet of classroom instruction. Setting student goals provides both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation to improve and succeed. This free worksheet will help you and your students start setting goals right now.

Here are some tips for using this worksheet:

Lead by example

Fill out the sheet yourself, not only so that your students see how to fill it out correctly but also so that they see that adults set goals, too.

Encourage students to make “just right” goals

“Just right” goals are not too easy but are not too difficult either. The goal should take some effort to achieve. It is also a good idea to help the perfectionists in your class to make goals that will not result in frustration and failure. For example, “I will get 100% on all of my spelling tests” is not a good goal because as soon as the student misses a word, she has failed to meet the goal. A better goal might be: “I will earn an average score of at least 90% on all of my spelling tests.”

Teach students to make specific goals

It is important that the student knows when he or she is meeting the goal. For example, “I will study my spelling words,” is pretty vague. “I will study my spelling words for ten minutes every Wednesday and Friday evening at 7:00,” is a much more specific goal.

Teach students to make measurable goals

Your students should know without a doubt if they have achieved their goals. Rather than, “I will be more polite,” a better goal would be, “I will remember to say, ‘please,’ and ‘thank you.'”

Make time for reflection

Be sure to leave some time for students to assess how they did with their goals. Stress that failing to meet a goal doesn’t make a person a failure; it just means they need to figure out what went wrong and try again. You may one to do this in a one-on-one mini-conference or have your students go over their goals and how they did with a parent.

Celebrate rather than reward

Skip the candy and LPC (little plastic crap), and let students actually feel the pride and empowerment that comes from achieving a goal. Intrinsic reward is a happy thing. However, that does not mean you cannot acknowledge that goals in your classroom have been met. Rather than singling out individuals, why not have a celebration for the whole class? Those who did not meet their goals can celebrate with those who did. A celebration can be as simple as, “Let’s give a round of applause to everyone who met their goals!”

Have you done goal setting with your students? Please tell us about it with a comment.

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