The Gift of Goal Setting

As we know, goal-setting is a common practice for many successful adults. From countless articles on Linkedin to a plethora of goal-setting templates for the future-centric professional, the benefits of this practice are all around us.  As most K-12 students transition from first to the second semester, I want to encourage you to consider incorporating the philosophy of goal-setting into your teaching practice. In my work with teachers across the country, those who strategically, consistently, and meaningfully goal-set with students see this translate to student motivation, academic improvement, and stronger academic identities.

It should be a part of our practice to dedicate the time to help students develop clear goals, periodically reflect on their progress, and help them understand why a particular goal is important to them. Similar to how we ensure collaborative discussions, do nows, journaling, and essential questions are incorporating into the teaching routine, goal-setting can be one of the most powerful strategies you implement for your students.

In 1990, Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham published their seminal book on how to effectively create goals to improve performance. Based on their work and my experiences with teachers and students, setting goals should be realistic, timely, measurable, and revisited throughout the school year to monitor progress.

Why is goal-setting important for students?
1) Help students develop clear short and long-term academic, social, and personal goals.
2) Provides students with a path to how they will improve or refine a stated focus.
3) Guide students with conceptualizing the on-going process of growth and development.

How often should I engage in this practice with students?
Frequency will vary based on your caseload, schedule, the area of focus, and students. Typically, goal-setting can occur during the following cycle:

1) Once each semester to deeply reflect and plan to end the year strong.
2) At the end of the quarter to set goals for the next grading cycle.
3) Before the month ends to prepare for next month.

Where do I locate resources?

Several templates are included for you to utilize with young learners, intermediate, and secondary students.

Free resources on under the Resources tab
Also, this blog on SMART goals has a graphic organizer for your students.
Templates on this site will help both you and your learners with goal-setting.