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May 08

Teacher Tip: The Power of Goal Setting

Teacher Tip: The Power of Goal Setting

Yesterday was a bittersweet teaching day for me, and it is every year but I think the assignment is well worth it.  Every year we look at our yearly goals that we made the first day of school when they enter my class.  It is a great day for those that have completed their goals, and it is a horrible day for those that failed or made bad choices over the school year and it has changed their life trajectory.  I have found that if the students set attainable goals it makes such a big difference throughout the year.

So how do I get them to set attainable goals?  Well the first day of class I hand them an index card and write five get to know you questions on the board, the last of which is name three goals you have for this school year.  Once I get them all seated and I give them time to complete their questionnaire I say, “raise your hand if your goal is one of the following, be a good student, get no referrals, get straight A’s, pass 8th grade.” I usually have every hand in the room up I then ask them to keep their hand up if I said two of their goals (most hands stay up) and then I ask if I have said three of their goals, usually half of the class will still have their hand up.  I then try get really serious with them and ask, “are those really your goals or you just writing down what you think I want to hear.”  I then proceed to tell them to write out goals that they really care about. Are you an athlete do you want to make the team win a championship, do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend do you want one before the year is out, do you want to be an 8th grader again next year if not then you want to pass.  The bottom line is pick something that you care about that will not get you in trouble in school or out and make those your goals.

Once they have goals that they really want to accomplish I pick up their cards and tell them we will revisit their goals periodically throughout the year.  This semi-frequent reminder helps them remember that they are at school for something hopefully it is to make good grades and be good students, but if it is sports or to socialize maybe you can tie that it in to good grades.  For example, if a student causes class problems because they are trying to get the attention of another student in the room take away some of their socializing times like lunch or in between classes.  Explain if they want to hang out with their friends and enjoy their “free” time then they need to get their act together in class. The key is finding something that is important to the student that you can use to make them into the best student that they can be.

Goals are so important and once students set them themselves they will take ownership of them.  It is always amazing to see how proud they are when they complete one of their goals, but at the same time a little disappointing when they do not.  I find this lesson really helps open the door to what life is really like.  Sometimes we succeed sometimes we fail, but the most important point is that we have learned from our experiences.

Steps to Setting Goals

  1. Have them set goals they want to accomplish
  2. Make the goals attainable
  3. Frequently remind them of the goals
  4. Remind them that goals are tough to achieve, if they were easy then they wouldn’t be called goals.
  5. Recap at the end of the year

to read my other teaching tips click here.

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1 comment

  1. freda

    You amaze me. Every tip you put on here about students is really good. If only all teachers had you attitude and abilities It would be great. I think we would see a great improvement in the students that finish school.

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