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Classroom Management for SMART, Stretch Goal Setting

Janelle Cox

More and more school districts are introducing goal-setting classroom management methods to their students. Setting goals is a great way for students to face challenges head on. They also help students learn to be accountable, and are great motivators to help students learn to keep going. Here we’ll take a closer look at implementing SMART goals as well as Stretch goals into your classroom management scheme.

Setting SMART Goals for Classroom Management

SMART goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic or Relevant, and Timely or Trackable. A typical goal a student may make is to do better on her report card the following semester. However, a SMART goal would be more specific, such as, “I will get at least an 85 or higher in each subject the next marking period.” Then the student would go on to lay out exactly how he will go about doing that. He may say something like, “I will study my notes every night, go to my teachers’ review classes, and ask a friend or the teacher if I don’t understand a concept.”

SMART goals must be attainable and not out of reach. They also should require effort and focus to achieve them. Students must set a goal within a specific timeframe, and track how well they are near to achieving their goal. These types of goals will take time to develop, since there are a lot of steps. As long as students are tracking their progress, then they can make the necessary adjustments in order to reach their final goal. 

Setting Stretch Goals

Stretch goals are goals that we set that inspire us to think big. These are goals that we may feel are out of reach. For example, a student who has never run before may make a stretch goal to run a half marathon (13 miles). While this goal may seem impossible at first, when paired with SMART goals, it can indeed be achieved. The objective when making a stretch goal is to think big, then break it down into steps or mini goals so that it can be reached.

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Stretch + SMART Goals = Success

SMART and Stretch goals serve two different purposes. Stretch goals inspire us to think big, while SMART goals help us to form a plan to get to our stretch goal. These two different types of goals can be used in conjunction with one another to help students reach for the stars. Students can think of pairing these two together like they would a project. First, they would create a stretch goal, then their SMART goals are the actions that they need to take in order to reach their stretch goal. For example, a student’s stretch goal may be to run a half marathon. While their SMART goals may be to run 3 miles without stopping, every school night, 5 days a week after school, for one month, then 4 miles for the second month, and so on.

Here is an example of a high school student’s stretch + SMART goal and how he plans on achieving the goal.

  • Stretch Goal – Get on the National Honor Society next school year.
  • Specific – Maintain a GPA of 95 or higher in each class, and join school clubs, and sports teams.
  • Measurable – Grades will be “High honor roll” worthy, join newspaper club and the volleyball team.
  • Achievable – Yes, as long as grades stay above 95 and I make the volleyball team.
  • Realistic – I will keep my grades up by studying every day and practicing volleyball each night until I make the team.
  • Timeline – At the end of each week for the entire school year, I will check in with my teachers to see how I’m doing, as well as practice volleyball.

As you can see in this example, the student’s stretch goal is to make the National Honor Society. However, in order to do that, the student must maintain a high GPA as well as be part of a school club and sports team. The SMART goals list specific ways that will help him achieve what he thinks is an impossible goal in the timeframe of one year.

SMART goals are crucial to students’ success. Once their goal is clearly defined, then they must go through each specific step in order to reach it. Reviewing these goals daily is just another way to get a step closer to reaching their final goal.

Do your students create stretch and SMART goals? Please feel free to share your classroom management thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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 Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at

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