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Classroom Management: Boost Learning by Goal Setting

Janelle Cox

As teachers, we want our students to think for themselves and be passionate about learning. But in order for children to be able to do that, we need use classroom management to teach them how to set and accomplish a few goals. When children have the opportunity to take ownership of their own learning, they will be able to set their own goals, and create a plan for themselves where they are able to accomplish what they set out to do, then celebrate their successes. However, this classroom management process will take some time and patience, but in the end it will be worth all of the hard work that you and your students put into it. Here are a few classroom management tips on the goal setting process and how you can boost learning within your classroom.

Classroom Management: Setting Goals

Goal setting is a process and will take some time in order for the students to reach their goals. Here are five tips to help you through the progression.

1. Look at the Data

The first step is to meet individually with each student and look at all of the results of their latest classroom assignments and tests. Show them how they compare with the “Average” student or where they are supposed to be during that time of the school year. For some students, this may come as a shock because they may not have a clue where they stand. However, this part of the process is an essential one, because students need to see where they are in order to create personal goals for themselves.

2. Guide Students in Setting Goals

The next step is to guide students into setting goals for themselves. While you may have a few goals in mind for the student, it is important for them to come up with goals for themselves. You can, however, prompt the students when guiding them. Encourage students to come up with only one or two goals at a time. It actually will depend upon the student and their wants and needs, but one or two goals at a time is a good number because it will be easier for the student to accomplish the goal without being too overwhelming.

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Make sure that you have students set specific goals that they will be able to accomplish. For example, if your 5th grade student wanted to be able to read 150 words per minute by the end of two weeks, this may be an unreasonable task. You can guide them into determining how many weeks would be a reasonable goal to accomplish their task, such as six weeks.

3. Teach Students to Create a Plan

Once students have determined their goals, now it’s time to help guide them in creating a plan to accomplish these goals. You can ask them a few questions to guide them in the right direction. Here are a few suggestions.

  • What can you do to achieve your goals?
  • What can you do at home? In school?
  • What strategies do think will help you?

4. Create a Goal-Tracking System Together

After students have created a plan it is now time to create a tracking system to help them accomplish their goals. This tracking system will be completed daily or weekly depending upon the goal and the time that the goal needs to be accomplished by. It should also be completed by the student, and only the student. This system should be created together with the student and the teacher, and you will find that not all tracking systems will be the same for every student in class. One student may prefer a digital tracking system, while another may prefer a hand-written, paper one. Just like you differentiate learning in the classroom, the tracking system needs to work for each individual student.

5. Celebrate Student Successes

The last step in the goal process is to celebrate the success of the students’ accomplishments. This may be the biggest and most important step of them all, because it shows the student that they have met what they set out to do, and it should be celebrated. There are numerous ways that you can celebrate the success of each student, and not every student will want to celebrate the same. Some teachers find that prizes work well as a reward, while others find that “Homework passes” or “Lunch in the classroom” is a nice way to celebrate. Other teachers find that students are excited to just celebrate at home with their family or with a mentor in school, or just to hang their tracking chart in the classroom for all to see. As long as you are celebrating the success of the goal, then it doesn’t matter how you do it.

It’s important to mention that you are the guide in this process not the instructor. Your job is to guide students into making their own decisions and taking ownership of their own learning. Once you take over, you are defeating the purpose of the process.

Do you set goals for your students or do you guide them in the process? Please feel free to share your ideas and suggestions in the comment section below, we would love to hear what works for you in your classroom.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.