Set Goals Alongside with Students 

By Laura Driscoll
Read Time:  min
Grow alongside your students.

Do you set goals with students in counseling? Try weaving SMART goals into a student's sessions in individual counseling. It helps them feel in charge of their progress. There are several ways that you can introduce and use goal setting. One way to elevate these activities is to set goals alongside students and share your process.

Why Set Goals With Students

Setting goals is the perfect time to share more about yourself with students. Setting your own goals while students set theirs builds rapport and encourages students to be honest about what they want to change. 

When I set my goals and tracked them with students, they gained a deeper understanding and could look at what I was doing more critically.

They learn:

  • Missteps happen. Progress toward a goal isn't a straight line; we need to tweak our goals.
  • Everyone's goals are different. Goals should be personal to what the student needs and wants.
  • When you monitor your goal with a student, they see how someone works on their own goal.

One of the most important skills we can teach students is how to set goals and keep working on them. When children feel confident that they can make progress, they

11 Simple Strategies to Help Elementary Students Achieve Goals

Set Them Together

Spend one session with a student reviewing what SMART Goals are and working on setting your goals together. Try using kid-friendly materials that explain SMART goals step by step.

Consider what goals you are comfortable disclosing with a student, how much is appropriate to share, and what the student can relate to.

Download these SMART Goal posters.

Check In Together

As part of your regular session with your student, check in on each of your goals. Talk about challenges and what positive things happened, and make any changes. 

It is helpful for students to see how someone handles setbacks and also how goals can be adjusted.

Reflect Together

Take time to reflect with the student. Reflect on your goals and ask each other for feedback.

check-in tools for counseling

Learn Out Loud

I was at a conference a few months ago, and one of the presenters talked about the power of learning out loud -- being transparent with your growth and your struggles. Learning out loud with students can be a powerful tool in counseling when we have clear boundaries with students.

Start goal setting today and join your students in tracking your progress.

Helpful Goal Setting Resources

Counseling Check-Ins

Counseling Check-In Activities

An assortment of check-ins you can use with students in counseling to understanding their thoughts and feelings better.


SMART Goal Lessons and Activities

Five 15-minute lessons in print and digital that break down the SMART goal setting process into manageable chunks. 

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I’m a school psychologist who left her office (closet?) and got busy turning a decade of experience into ready to use counseling and SEL resources.

I live in New York City with my adventurous husband and relaxed to the max daughter who’ve grown to appreciate my love of a good checklist.

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