It’s always hard to believe that the end of December marks the halfway point of the school year. Looking back at all students have learned and accomplished over a few months is astonishing. It’s sometimes hard to see the gains students have made day-to-day, so it’s nice to stop and recognize their success. It’s also a good time for me to reevaluate my professional goals, because the whirlwind of my daily activities doesn’t leave a lot of time for reflection and goal setting.
When students return to school in January, I like to spend a little time discussing how to set SMART goals. This is a great way to refocus students and allows me to set a tone of high expectations for the remainder of the school year. I like to use the SMART goal format, because it’s important to teach students how to set goals. I’ve tried skipping the how-to lesson, and my students’ goals were far too vague, completely unreachable, or so distant they didn’t make an impact on the student.
Printables and Activities
I’ve created a few printables and activities to guide students through the process of goal setting. I made these several years ago, and I’ve kept making tweaks and changes to it over the years. After I introduce the concept of SMART goals, I give students an example and non example sort, where they determine if they are effective examples of SMART goals.
Students also correct vague, untimely, and unrealistic goals. Students frequently write things like, “I’ll do better in math.” or “I’ll be good.” This gives students a starting place to work from, before they set their own. I think it makes the transition of student goal setting a little easier.
I also have students reflect on the previous year before setting their goals. It’s important to remind students that the reflection is for them, not me. I encourage honest and self-reflection, and to not just copy whatever a friend writes.
When it’s finally time for students to write their goals, I encourage them to think deeply and to not write the first thing they think of (unless it is important to them). My students write three goals and then thing of strategies they can use to accomplish them. We also discuss obstacles to reaching goals and how we can overcome those obstacles. Students use their goals to write an action plan for achieving them. I don’t require my students to write academic goals, which is always a shock to them!
If we have time, students will complete a new years activity for 2016. They will write two things they’re thankful for, a bad habit they’d like to break, their most important goal for 2016, and eight kind things they can do for others.
I recently added a New Years acrostic to the file since I thought it might be a fun activity for students. I may have this ready for my early finishers, because I think it’s something students will enjoy. You can use this activity at the beginning of a calendar year of the school year.
I also have a diamante poem where students bridge 2017 and 2018. Students can write this on construction paper or plain white paper to add decorations and pizzazz for a hallway display.
Then, students created a winter landscape scene on their construction paper. First they made a base for their snow globe by tracing and cutting out the base on red paper. Next, they glued the circle on top of the base. When the glue was somewhat dry, we placed a handful of snow in the plate. After that, we placed their construction paper on top of the plate to hold the snow (make sure they face their picture TOWARD the plate). I hot glued the backs of the plates to the construction paper and made sure they were completely sealed. You could turn this into a writing project and have students write what they would do if they were trapped in a snow globe.