Whether working one-on-one on SAT prep or an entire class on middle school science, we can help keep our students motivated and focused with a good, ambitious, achievable goal. Here are some considerations for setting goals with students, whether goals are grades, test scores, or confidence.
First and foremost, a student should be invested in their goal. Consider what a student wants, both now and in the future. Many students have vague hopes for the future, but don’t necessarily know what they can do right now to help get them on the path towards their long-term goals. Knowing the big goal and how to get there can help us figure out what smaller goals and tasks need to be accomplished this week, month, and year.
It’s important to meet students where they are now. Going from an A- to an A takes a different amount of work than going from a C- to an A. What foundational skills are missing? What are the student’s strengths that can be leveraged? This will look different for every student.
A student who is failing AP Biology in May is unlikely to finish the course with an A. A student with a 1200 PSAT score is unlikely to get a 1600 with only a week to prep. That doesn’t mean these students aren’t capable of these achievements at all; they are unlikely to achieve them within their time limits. Consider whether the goal can reasonably be achieved in a week, a semester, or several years.
Even if a goal can be achieved in a certain time frame, consider what other factors may affect the picture. Consider whether a student has other major commitments coming up, like a school play or football playoffs. Learning disabilities, anxiety, and family situations can all change the time and energy students have to work towards their goals.
What have you found helpful for student goal-setting?