Whether at the start of a school year or when embarking on a new task with your students, it is crucial to pinpoint learning objectives and success criteria. In the International Baccalaureate, we focus on working backwards, getting underway by envisioning outcomes to ultimately planning activities that will support us in achieving our objectives.
For example, if I want to get a master’s degree, if I sign up for a course and fumble my way through, my route to success will be plagued with obstacles and challenges. But, on the other hand, if I know I want to get a master’s degree and work my way backward by examining expectations, I can be more committed and better prepared to take on challenges. Backward planning applies to almost everything we do in life, and utilizing it assures us of the best chances of success.
Set goals with your students and yourself
Envisioning a goal or outcome at the culmination of a particular period gives us responsibilities to work towards. We flourish when we try to accomplish new assignments, hone different talents, or break out of our comfort zones. If teachers and students jointly set goals intentionally chased for the school year or a predetermined period, progress becomes visible and traceable. Imagine a student’s delight when he sees how far he has come by consciously evolving! Showing young learners that goals are achievable and measurable is the ultimate gift you could give them. It sets them up as successful adults who plan appropriately by establishing realistic targets.
SMART goals help to manage development plans by analyzing the viability of the goal.
Keep your goal specific and try not to exceed more than two. You could make a list of all the things you would like to achieve and whittle down to the two that take priority over others.
Try to make certain that your goal has a tangible and measurable basis. How will you realize that you have accomplished your goal? Set up success criteria that will permit you to see how far you have come rather than disappointment at not having achieved something that is not possible in the given timeframe.
Ascertain the techniques you will employ to reach your aims and objectives. What will you need to do to be productive? Make sure that you fill this section with do-able practical measures rather than ambitious actions that may not come to fruition.
If you are giving this graphic organizer to your students, ask them how you can be of help. You are an invaluable resource for them, let them know that you are available to assist in any way imaginable!
Your goal should be relevant and should share connections with your hobbies, passion, or profession. Having a goal that will promote a facet of your life will rouse you to keep going when you want to give up. It should build on an existing strength or an area which you have always wanted to explore. Keeping your curiosity piqued is key!
The timeframe set to attain a goal is crucial. Stretching a timeline over six months may instigate a person to either lose interest or make tracking progress problematic. You could even split a goal into smaller chunks of time where you check in with your progress and adjust your course of action.
Having your students fill up a SMART chart or even completing one for yourself at the beginning of the year inspires one to put things in perspective. Understanding the varying significance of goals and tracking success in the most crucial ones will lead to individual growth.
I took this up for my students at the beginning of the year for their semi-annual goals and their reading targets. When the six-month mark rolled around, I had elated third graders who never knew they could enhance their skills if they consciously worked towards progressing. Those who fell short of their targets were pleased with how far they had come from the starting line and pledged to work harder next time as success was almost within their grasp.
Knowing how to set manageable goals is a skill that should be explicitly taught in the classroom so that learners can understand their capabilities and bask in the rewards of hard-earned success. In a world full of deadlines and cut-offs, self-management skills need to go hand in hand with the types of goals that we set with our students.
If you would like a Microsoft Word template of this graphic organizer, contact me and I’ll send it across!