The Transylvania Times -

By Corey Gafnea
Everyday Education 

Setting Goals With Our Youth


Last updated 1/4/2017 at 8:51pm

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.” ― Melody Beattie

Oftentimes we make New Years’ resolutions and say things like, “This will be the year I lose weight, eat better, get to the gym, exercise more, learn Spanish, etc.” We may not follow through and by Groundhog’s Day it’s easy to feel defeated about what we declared on Jan 1. However, learning how to set intentions and create and achieve goals are important skills that will serve our students during their school years and long after.

A few of the benefits of goal setting is that increases both achievement and motivation. In many cases it can helps students to know how to manage their time and work better to reach their desired outcome. Studies have shown that students who invest in their goals demonstrate greater persistence, creativity and risk taking in order to achieve those goals when compared to students who haven’t taken the time to create effective goals in the first place. Goal setting also has an impact on self-regulation, which is an important critical skill for success while also allowing the student to take responsibility for their learning, rather than making it soley dependent on the teacher or school.

One effective way to set goals is by using the acronym S.M.A.R.T. Ask if the goal is:

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Action Orientated

R = Rewarding

T = Trackable

It’s often beneficial to begin with a smaller short-term goal which is easily trackable because it allows one to see progress and success. Seeing a lot of gold stars on a calendar or “X’s” marked on a piece of graph paper for each day that we worked towards or goal or completed it for that day is reward within itself as well as providing a sense of accountability. Many older kids with Snapchat are familiar with challenging themselves by keeping their “snapstreaks” going and it is fun and rewarding to see the days add up. Creating one or two short-term goals that can be accomplished on a daily, weekly or monthly basis can be a part of a long-term goal that a student wants to accomplish for the entire school year.

By giving students a chance to practice goal setting in different classrooms they are able to develop both goal setting and flexible critical thinking skills that are necessary and widely applicable in many areas of their lives, both inside and outside the classroom. It’s also important that teachers provide feedback on their students’ progress towards their goals. This increases the likelihood of the goal’s achievement as well as a way to shift or change parts of the goal if necessary.

Setting goals with students allows teachers and parents to “create an environment that enhances their strengths and lowers the decibels of their weaknesses. Life is about choices. So by teaching your child [student] to consciously and deliberately overcome obstacles and accomplish their goals, you will enable them to deliberately make the right choices for themselves,” said Dr. Gail Gross.


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