SMART Goals are an incredible tool to teach students when they are setting goals. Well, that is if they do anything with them. Sometimes, we set goals with students and then let them collect dust on the shelf. We all know that with our own goals, we have to track them and keep our focus on them or they are never going to happen. So why don't we do that with students? If you are working on goal setting with students, check to make sure you are avoiding these 5 mistakes.
1. Not Making Goals SMART
Goals are not wishes and hopes. They may start there, but effective goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. Clearly defining goals is key to a student eventually reaching them and being able to reflect on slow moving progress.
2. Not Using Mini-Goals
You gotta break goals down. Say I wanted to lose 100 pounds. It's a lot easier if I break that down into 10 pounds at a time. Plus, what I have to do to lose the first time will be different than what I haveto do to lose the last 10, right?
When a football team has the ball, their goal is the end zone, but they have minigoals to keep moving the goals posts down the field. Breaking down big goals helps us feel successful, see our progress, and know we are on the right track.
3. Not Reassessing
Sometimes a student sets a goal that is too ambitious, not ambitious enough, not relevant, too vague. The list goes on. It is important to build in opportunities to reassess and reflect on the goal and see if any changes need to be made.
4. Not Focusing on 1% Better
Some of the goals students will set will be big. There will be setbacks. It is important that they focus on the small improvements and steps forward. Celebrating 1% improvements is essential to staying motivated and also understanding that improvement is a continual process.
5. Not Letting Them Set the Goals
Often we think we know what students should work on. Actually, it's not that we don't, but if it's not important or personal to them they are not going to care. It is important for students to spend time thinking about what they want to work on and improve. Not necessarily what adults want them to do better.
To Wrap It Up
When you are setting goals with students make sure they are:
- actively thinking about their goals,
- breaking them down,
- reflecting and tweaking,
- celebrating small successes,
- and working on what matters to them.
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