I am a planner. I am one of those people who makes to do lists about what I need to make to do lists for. I am one of the nerds who actually uses my BYU planner multiple times a day and I am proud of it! I love planning events and I always need to know what is happening next.
When I would go into my parents room, their office, or call them on the phone in a stressed and overwhelmed state, I was often asked the same questions and given the same advice: “Have you made a plan? Do you have goals and to do lists?” My parent would then sit me down, ask me about the problem, and help me come up with a plan. “How would I accomplish all of the tasks that were required of me?” We would talk it out and even write down days and times for my goals. I am so grateful for what my parents taught me about the importance of plans and goals! As we make goals for our own lives, we can also teach the importance of goals to our future students.
Setting personal objectives and being motivated in life is achieved by setting end goals. When you make a direction for yourself, the path becomes clearer. However, in order to make sure this goal is not too lofty or unattainable, it is important to make smaller, simpler goals first. This way, as you attain each goal, your motivation will increase and you can better measure your progress towards larger and more long term goals. Also, writing your plans and goals on paper makes them more concrete and attainable. You see your plan, you know what it is, and you can start working on it. Be sure to remember to also be adaptable. Life has many twists and turns so you must be flexible when working on goals.
So how do you make goals and how can you help your students make goals? The Mind Tools website at http://www.mindtools.com/page6.html offers some helpful ideas. For example, it mentions the use of the acronym SMART. Each letter stands for something that assists you in making “smart” goals. S stands for specific or significant; M is for measurable or meaningful; A for attainable or action-oriented; R for relevant or rewarding; T for time-bound or trackable.
The first meaning for each letter in SMART works great for task-based goals while the second meaning works well for aspirational goals. For example, a task-based goal in a classroom may be to learn to spell every word on a weekly spelling list. Using SMART goals, your students can adapt this goal to say “In order to learn all of these spelling words, I will learn three new words a day by spelling them out loud and writing them down three times each as well as using them in a sentence during the day. By the end of the week, I will know all of the spelling words on the list and will be ready for the spelling test.” This goal now has a specific and measurable plan for its accomplishment. A student’s aspirational goal of becoming a better listener can be broken down using SMART and could include such things as such as making eye contact, focusing on what is being said, and taking action as needed. To help your students attain their goals, be sure to remind them about their goals, have them write their goals down, post them in the classroom, have them talk to fellow students about their goals, etc. These are all great ideas to help your students have something to continually work for.
It often feels like we are “too busy” to write goals or make plans. There is so much to do and time is precious! No worries, I know the feeling! However, I promise you that the few minutes of time you use to make a plan will be more beneficial to you then working on a task with no direction. You will feel more confident and able to tackle what’s ahead of you when you can see the “big picture”, and you know what, where, when, and how to do it.
As teachers, we want to encourage our students to make goals. The beginning of a new school year is a great time to help them come up with a few goals and steps towards their achievement. This helps the students and the teacher know where they are headed, what they want out of their school year, and helps them feel a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence when they are able to see their progression. Both daily as well as large goals have great benefits. If a habit is started young of making plans, goals, and to do lists, it can be carried on to be used as a future tool. Just like how my parents helped me make plans for my life, we can help our students do the same.