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Setting Student Goals: How To Do It

August 14, 2016 3 min read

Setting Student Goals: How To Do It

August 14, 2016 3 min read

Like any teacher, we both want to instill in our students a sense of pride in working hard to achieve goals that they set for themselves. What we found though was that in the day-to-day craziness of running a classroom, it can be super difficult to remember to check in with students about their goals. Unless you have a solid, organized system in place, student goals can quickly fall to the wayside. Not something we want to happen!

What we both used to do with student goals in our classrooms was lame …

  • Have students write down three goals for themselves at the beginning of the year. 
  • Use these goals to discuss with parents at parent-teacher conferences.
  • Where did those goals go again?

Yea. It wasn’t effective for us, and it certainly wasn’t effective for our students! We had to come up with something better.

When thinking about how we wanted to create a student goal-setting system, we sought to do the following:

  • eliminate any chance for students to be vague with their goals
  • provide structure and the opportunity to for students to actually achieve their goals with assistance from others
  • scheduled times to check back in with students to assess progress

The system that we came up with hits all of these points AND helps students be self-aware as they look at their work ethic, behavior, and habits!

Below, we’ve outlined the system process that we’ve both used in our classrooms. It’s easy to set up, easy to remember, and a great way to track students’ goals!
  1. We distribute a “My Goals for This Semester” handout during the first week of school. We spend a good deal of time brainstorming possible goals and discussing what realistic help from others might look like in conjunction with being held accountable for making progress in our goals. This activity is also a great way to learn about your students and what they value! We then share these goals with parents at Back to School Night (you can also send these goals home for parents to sign) so that everyone is involved in our students’ success (not just us or the students!). We then let our students know when our first check-in will be (usually about a month and a half into the school year).
  2. On the day of our first check-in, we pass out a “My Goals for This Semester Reflection” handout and schedule some time in our lesson plans for brief meetings with students. At these meetings, we also use a little teacher tracker handout that we made to quickly check off if a student has met his/her goals. If a students hasn’t met their goals, we have them reflect on why they haven’t, what could be done to meet this goal, who they need to ask for help from, etc. If a student has met their goals, we have them make new goals for the next check-in.
  3. At the end of the semester, students complete an “End of Semester Reflection” handout, and the goal-setting process continues with new check-in dates!

We’ve found that having a streamlined process for both students and ourselves to monitor goals was a game changer. Obviously, mastering certain curriculum is important for future success, but learning how to create goals and follow through with hard work, is a priceless skill for students!

We highly recommend implementing some system for goal setting in your own classroom. If you’d like, you can grab our Student Goal-Setting Resource by clicking here

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Hi there! We're two middle school ELA teachers with a mission to share ideas, tips, and tricks for effectively teaching reading and writing in the secondary classroom. We're so happy you stopped by!

Caitlin + Jessica

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