Goals are an integral part of students' success in and out of the classroom. As an educator, outlining student goals will help you track improvements and will help you determine how to respond to challenging behaviors in the classroom. Having goals for students can also help them develop self-confidence as they work towards and accomplish their educational goals. Here are a few questions to consider as you outline your goals for students and help them outline their own personal goals:
- What do you want children to learn and achieve during the school year? As discussed in The Insightful Teacher, many teachers who are asked this question respond with self-control, cooperation, self-confidence, social skills, joy in learning, and other similar answers.
- How will curriculum influence student goals? You will also need to outline more curriculum-based goals for students, such as learning to write the ABCs, learning how to multiply and divide numbers, or learning new vocabulary words.
- What would be a few good classroom goals for the whole class to work towards during the school year? Maybe you would like your class to be more involved in fundraising or you would like to start a classroom garden. Another great classroom goal would be for every student to read fifty books during the school year.
- What goals do individual students want to set for themselves? Talk with students about the individual goals they want to set for themselves. As an activity for the beginning of the year, ask students to write down at least one goal they want to accomplish during the school year. One student may want to participate in the science fair, and another student may want to make more friends or start learning to play an instrument.
- Do you want to offer students rewards for meeting goals? Whether it's a prize from a treasure chest, a high five, or a take-home note with a small piece of candy, small rewards for individual successes can help motivate children to work towards their goals. If you worry that offering rewards may defeat the purpose of having goals, keep in mind that adults often treat themselves or earn small rewards when they finish a task or meet a goal.
- How will you remind children of both classroom goals and their individual goals? Outlining goals at the beginning of the year is the easy part–figuring out how to remind children of those goals and keep them accountable is a little more difficult. You can keep classroom rules visible by hanging them on a wall or bulletin board in the classroom and talking about them throughout the school year. For individual goals, have students periodically write about or discuss their progress.
It's also important that you consider how to assess whether or not goals are completed and why or why not children were able to meet their goal(s). Take goal assessment notes at the end of the school year to ensure that you understand what you can change during the new school year and can plan the best ways to incorporate those changes when outlining student goals.