Adding Student Goals to Class Routine

Student goals: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Student goals have made their way in and out of my classroom, and then in and out again. Sometimes they make it in and just stay there, but linger in the background as the everyday reminder that I haven’t done anything with
them.

We know how important goals are to student success, but with all the other standards and non-negotiables, how do we possibly find the time? Not only do goals need to be written, but they need to be reflected on and changed, taking up even more of our already lost time.

How I made goals work for me.

This year I started out with every intention to focus on student goals. At the beginning of the year, we wrote a reading and a writing goal and placed them on the Our Goals bulletin board: a constant reminder. They almost shout, “Hey! I’m over here. Have I been accomplished yet?”

However, as every educator knows, we can start with the greatest intentions, but teaching, management, homework, behavior, etc. push their way forward and all our good intentions continue to stick to that bulletin board.

As Christmas break came and went, my students’ responsibility and motivation went along with it. That’s when I knew I had to put more emphasis on the importance of student goals.

We began directly upon the start of the second semester, allowing ourselves to reflect on the finalized first semester.

The Process of Goal Setting

First, I began to model my own personal goal. I am very open about my thoughts with my students and share my thought process on teaching and reflecting. I reflect in front of them so they can see even adults, especially teachers, want to improve.

My students are aware of our objective and my goal to say it three times a day, but I lack stressing what exactly I want them to learn by talking about the objective. Again, the time thing. I shared that my goal was to explain exactly what I wanted my students to know by the end of the hour, but even more important than the goal, are the ways to achieve this goal.

After I modeled the goal, we created a class goal. I was highly tired of picking up pencils, books, papers, etc. So, our class goal was to clean the room. Our steps were to stop class three minutes early and give students areas to monitor before leaving. This worked really well because each person had to contribute for us to reach our class goal.

Once we had a goal and steps to achieve that goal, then we needed a deadline realistic for accomplishing our goal. We decided on two weeks to truly grasp the duties of our goal.

By this point students were ready to write their own goals. They set goals, how to accomplish those goals and in a realistic amount of time. We also discussed that a goal must be realistic and specific. A student must be able to accomplish their goal in two weeks. Getting an A is not specific or attainable in two weeks. However, working on my claim is clear and specific.

So, now that we have discussed the contents of a setting an achievable goal, how do you possibly make the time for including it into your daily routine?

In order to do this, you need to understand the importance of setting goals on student achievement. With a clear focus, students are taking responsibility for their education. Setting goals puts the student in the driver’s seat of their learning.

When including this in my class, I make sure to put it in my lesson plans. This sounds silly, but if I do not put it in my lesson plans, then the goals will stick to the back of the board all year.

Every other Friday I set aside 15 minutes for students to take down their old goals, reflect on them, and create new goals. Once a week, I have them remind someone what their goal is and how close they are to accomplishing it. Students can refine goals, revise goals, and prepare new ones. As they get use to writing goals, they become more clear and more achievable. One student focused on not procrastinating, but knew he was only halfway to achieving it. He kept his goal the same and revised the steps of achieving it. This brought him huge success in getting his assignments in on time.

It doesn’t take much time once students are use to writing goals. Start in the beginning of the year, focus on it, and keep it consistent. As any procedure, it will take time, but the success is worth it! Let your students take control of their education and see where it takes them!

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