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Why You Should Teach Goal Setting in Your Classroom

How many times have you made a new year's resolution you didn't keep? I'm so guilty of this. But, when I make resolutions with a solid plan and write out the steps I need to achieve my goals, I'm able to accomplish so much more.

You can instill a growth mindset in your classroom when you help students understand the importance of goals and how to best achieve them. Students benefit from learning to set both academic and personal goals. Just like the saying goes, "setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible." ~ Tony R.

Teach SMART Goals

I make goal setting a priority for the beginning of January and show my process to students, which helps them get inspired and motivated for the new year. January is the perfect time to introduce your students to SMART goals and how to write actionable steps they can take to be successful in the classroom. We are asked to do so much more than teach our learning standards, and this may seem like one more thing on your plate, but goal setting is a valuable skill I know is worth the effort.

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound focused goals that will provide students with a direct path to achievement. The key is to attach clear deadlines with actionable steps, so students are more likely to follow through.

Make Goal Setting Part of Your Class

Let me share how I use goal setting in my classroom. To begin, I teach a quick lesson on SMART goals and have students practice writing some. Be sure they pay close attention to the action steps they write. This is the one area of goal setting that even we as adults tend to trip over. Students should learn to avoid writing broad general goals with few or ineffective action steps. I show examples of vague vs specific goals, and it really helps them understand the difference. Take a look at the full resource I used with students here.

After the initial lesson, we made goal setting part of our Monday routine. It takes just a few minutes and can set the tone for the rest of the week. If you need to justify using the time for goal setting, throw in complete sentences, action verbs, and cause and effect. Students write their goals in complete sentences with correct punctuation. Students use specific verbs to list actions needed to achieve goals. Students understand the relationship between the action and end result. Those are standards every administrator will recognize.

Countdown to the New Year

One activity my students loved was the New Year's Countdown assignment. Download it for use as a print or digital assignment. It's a no-prep activity they'll complete and then use all year. I had them keep it in their writing journal as a wonderful source of personal writing prompts and journal entry ideas. Read about how I use picture prompts for writing in my classroom.

Focus Word for the Year

My students' favorite part of the new year countdown was choosing a focus word for the year. It may seem like a small task, but they really put some thought and consideration into their word. You can extend the activity by having students create a word cloud with their focus word which you can then turn into a class display or bulletin board. Want to take it one step further? Let students list character traits a person must possess that relate to their focus word.

What are some goals you've set for yourself in the new year? Grab a free new year checklist here!

Did you choose a focus word? My word for the year is Prosper! I'd love to hear your ideas about goal setting with students and your own focus word in the comments.

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Wishing you a productive and exciting new year in 2022!

Happy New Year!

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