Student Goal Setting

         Student Development is listed as one of the areas of learning in the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Document “Choices into Action (1999). The more specific sub-category of “setting goals and monitoring progress” is described as follows: In grades 1-6 students will learn to use goal setting skills to improve their school work, and identify improvement in their work resulting from goal setting”. 

         I believe that goal setting can and should be taught in the early elementary years in order to encourage students to challenge and motivate their own learning development. Goal setting and self-assessment is an area of learning which can help to set the foundation for a productive school career for any student.  However, it is important to mention that while students should set specific and challenging goals for themselves, they should do so in regard to the curriculum outcomes and not to the attainment of specific grades. If the outcomes are met at a higher level, the grades will follow. Student goals should answer these three questions:

  • What do I need to get better at?
  • Where am I now with respect to my goal?
  • How will I do this?

         Goals can be set and amended at any time of the school year. They are most often set with teachers and parents input, with an identification of the supports needed to meet the goals and with discussion as to how the student will know if and when the goal is met. Goal-setting involves ongoing progress monitoring and reflection. With regards to children with exceptionalities, teachers should help these children correlate their personal goals with the goals outlined in their IEPs.

         Through research on goal-setting, I discovered a resource that is being used across a variety of environments, including the school system and extending as far as corporate organizations. The SMART goal-setting model is intended to help individuals develop concrete goals and keep track of their progress. While it may be designed for individuals older than elementary-aged children, I believe that it is a valuable tool that can be simplified for younger students. It is likely that students will encounter this model as they progress in their school career, thus, it would give them a head start in the creation of more developed goals in the future.

S = Specific                    
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant
T = Time-Bound

         This is the basic idea of the SMART goal-setting model. Creating goals using this model suggests that we should keep in mind these five aspects when describing our goals. The approach that I would take to teach this model would be to use my go-to teaching strategy of modeling. For example, I would plan for a fun activity that would involve the students choosing a goal for me- their teacher. Let’s say they decide that a good goal is for me to learn to speak Spanish! I would demonstrate using the SMART model how exactly to define my goal, using the five features that represent SMART. I would keep it simple, yet clear to best explain the process to the students. Visuals would most certainly be included in my modeling. Following creating a goal using the SMART method as a class, I would give the students an opportunity to create a learning goal for themselves, that would be intended to improve their school work. This goal would follow the SMART model that we had discussed as a class. I have provided a link, as an example of a goal-setting form, that the students could then complete in order to keep track of their goal and be able to reflect on their progress. Finally, I like the idea of having an achievement wall in the classroom, to celebrate the students goal-setting and successes. Goal setting should be fun, and we should celebrate victories!

Click on the image to the left to access the Goal Setting form.