Having students set their own academic and behavior goals allows students to take ownership and control of their accomplishments in the classroom.  Students are more likely to succeed at a task or assignment if they have a self-created target in mind.  Here are some tips to help students set their own goals.

  • Set Attainable Goals: Setting attainable goals allows students to feel a sense of accomplishment when the goal is met. If the goal is too lofty, students may never reach it which can be a big hit to the student’s confidence.  Students may need coaching in this area.  Each goal can, and should be, challenging yet reachable.
  • Write Goals In A Positive Way: Instead of “don’t get any wrong” the goal should be expressed as “score 100%.” It just sounds better.
  • Be Specific: Focus on one task or assignment. My students like to use weekly spelling tests, vocabulary quizzes, math fact tests, and so forth.  “Get better” won’t suffice.  Students should provide an exact score or percentage and a date by which the goal should be completed.  For example, a student might write a goal like this: I will score at least 90% on all weekly spelling tests during the 3rd quarter.
  • Discuss How: Students should describe how they will meet their goal. Will they write their spelling words three times each night or study math flash cards for 15 minutes every other day?
  • Document Goals in Writing: I have students keep their written goals in data folders.  This way students “accidentally” see their goals at least twice a week when they record test and quiz scores.  Written goals can also be posted in a visible place in the classroom.

At the beginning of each quarter, I have students set new math, reading, and behavior goals.  If you feel like this might be too much work, start small, having students set just one goal per semester.  Every other week, I conference with each student about their goals.  If you can’t conference weekly, find time in your schedule when you can periodically discuss student progress toward goals.

Goal setting can help students be successful and build confidence in the classroom.  The New Year is an ideal time to begin student goal setting.


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