A few years ago, I wanted my students to have a deeper understanding of what each learning skill meant so we dissected them as a class. The one we struggled with the most was “self regulation” as it was the only one students hadn’t ever understood. All of the other learning skills were easy to understand as the meaning was in the word but for self regulation, there was no prior knowledge.
We looked at a few different documents defining the learning skills and got a better understanding. For that reason, each year I have my students work on setting goals and creating steps to ensure that it’s possible.
Each Monday, my students start the morning off by writing a goal for the week. This goal is usually related to school work, relationships with peers, personal life or about something that is challenging them. Throughout the week, they take steps to try to reach that goal and then the following Monday, they write down if they reached that goal or not. Students can share each Monday if they reached their goal or not and what their next goal is. This is optional as goal sharing can be very personal to the student.
Then, before term one and term two report cards go home, I ask students to count how many times they met their weekly goal. That determines part of their self regulation mark. I have a lot of students who comment during the week how they are working hard towards their goal and that extra motivation helps them succeed.
I also had a student write her entire speech for our school speech competition on the importance of goal setting and how it can help you achieve your dreams. She made specific reference to how setting weekly goals each week helped her achieve bigger goals. I was so excited to hear how this helped her!
In addition to these small goals, in September I ask all my students to create one big goal for the year. The goal has to be something that they want to achieve by June. Goals range from:
- Getting a grad award in June
- Getting an 80% or higher for report card average
- Socializing with new people
- Coming to class each day
- Trying out for all of the sports teams
- Winning athlete of the year
- Joining band and sticking with it
- Winning the most improved student award
The list goes on and on. Last week I asked students to reflect on their goal from September and to write about whether they reached it or not. Some students are still unsure as the year has not ended but they reflected on if they think they will reach it or not. Many students have high hopes that they have reached their big goal and can identify at least three or four reasons why they may have reached it. I can tell the students have a lot of pride relating to their goal and are excited to see if they reached it or not. I can say that out of my 25 students, more than 75% achieved the goal they created in September by June.
I look forward to continuing this activity each year as I know goal setting is a big reason why I am where I am today. Having something to aspire towards is sometimes the motivation needed to get through a challenging week.