A Framework for Student Goal-Setting
“If we performed everything we’re capable of, we’d be completely amazed at how much we’ve accomplished.”
Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the light bulb.
Wendy Beth Rosen’s book Self-Smart is where I first heard that quote. Wendy provides five areas where students’—and adults’—self-assessments can lead to higher accomplishments and personal happiness if they are taken seriously. There are numerous diversions and problems in our lives that threaten to knock us off our route, or even prevent us from understanding where we are supposed to be going. It is possible to boost our chances of achieving the success we desire by setting precise goals for ourselves and tracking our progress toward achieving those goals.
Students and educators can use a goal-tracking tool that I’d want to offer with them that they can use on a regular basis, as well as during certain moments in their lives when they’re suffering doubt or failures. These are also beneficial in terms of encouraging positive mental health among students in school.
SETTING AND TRACKING GOALS
When it comes to making important decisions, middle and high school are particularly important years for students to become consciously aware of and intentional about key choices: what they put into their bodies; how the way they spend time helps them reach their larger purposes; who they spend their time with; and what they do to make a positive contribution to their families, schools, and communities.
Students in middle and high school should keep a diary at the start of the school year and at the end of each marking period to track their progress toward their objectives in the following eight areas:
Participation in extracurricular activities
Sports and physical activity
Eating well is important.
Family and community are important.
Hobbies and other areas of interest
Use of a screen
Plans for the long term
I have seen students set goals ranging from “eating better food at lunch” to “becoming a great guitar player” to “becoming an NBA star” in my work with middle school students, for example. In all circumstances, we want to assist students in being clear about their objectives (in the first case, “to be a healthy person”) and in setting realistic short-term goals on the road to achieving their long-term objectives (for the guitar and basketball players, finding time for regular practise with feedback). Goals serve as anchors for these kids, as well as for all students, and are particularly useful in high winds and severe seas.
Academic success is linked to each of the eight aspects of life above matter, and academic achievement is linked to each of the eight areas above matter. Having a mechanism to segregate them, monitor progress, and define priorities is vital. Even though students have high expectations for themselves, they require assistance in order to achieve success. If students are attempting to make progress in too many areas at the same time, they will almost certainly fail. Assist students in identifying one, two, or three areas to prioritise during a marking period. Examine these priorities in conjunction with them to determine if any follow-up goals should be established in these areas or if any new areas should be addressed. It’s critical to limit ourselves to no more than three at a time, since even if we need to make changes in eight areas, we won’t be able to keep track of that many. The race is won by those who go slowly and steadily.
Tracking also assists in ensuring that a specific area is not overlooked. When we see that anything has been overlooked, we might make some improvements..
The primary purpose of defining objectives is to guide students through the process of taking realistic actions toward achieving them. Numerous educators have discovered that employing the SMART format (goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) is feasible and reasonable, and that it helps pupils stay on track and focused.
WHEN CAN THIS HAPPEN?
Such journaling is particularly well suited to advisory or extended home room periods. Advisory times are designed to be focused on the complete kid, and the eight areas covered provide a large range of topics to choose from. Writing in a journal also promotes contact between advising teachers and those who are responsible for various areas in schools, such as subject area teachers, “specials” teachers (such as health and physical education teachers), and personnel who are in charge of extracurricular activities. Additionally, the advisory session can be used for problem-solving in pairs and groups to assist students in overcoming challenges they may encounter while pursuing their goals.
One strategy for assisting students in achieving their objectives is to pair them up and have them assist one another with goal-setting and monitoring. Students come into contact with one another in a variety of school settings and can be of assistance outside of formal lesson time.
Having community, whole-class discussions about goal-setting helps students develop a new way of thinking about themselves and others. It also encourages cooperation and mutual progress because students’ goals are not simply their own. When one of us grows better, we all get better together. In order to meet this requirement, it is expected that the goals stated will be communicated with others, possibly including classmates and certainly with other professors. Although personal goals relating to family concerns should be discussed, they should be kept out of these sessions because they require more professional and confidential follow-up.)
A useful method to begin the journaling process is to encourage students to reflect on the opening quotation from Edison, take a position on whether they agree, disagree, or are unsure about it, and then explaining why they believe this is the case. Students should first discuss their justifications in small groups, and then they should share them with the entire class. In order for goal journaling to become an authentic activity for students, it is necessary to ensure that they recognise that they have greater potential than they now realise themselves.
THE SAME GOALS ARE USEFUL FOR ADULTS
This activity is also appropriate for older children and adults. When it comes to being an educator, there is a lot on our plates, and having a system in place to ensure that one’s own learning, family, health habits, interests, and long-term aspirations are constantly top of mind (if not always top of action) helps us stay grounded.
In schools, dedicating regular time in professional learning communities and faculty meetings to discussing goal-achieving tactics might help to improve morale and increase student achievement. It is particularly important to discuss long-term intentions since it can generate broad faculty collaboration to shape the institution. Furthermore, letting students know that you are doing the same thing that they are asked to perform increases the likelihood that they will value the activity.