When we were first told that we needed to start setting learning goals in our classrooms I reacted with shock and disbelief. How would it be possible to have six- and seven-year-olds setting goals for their learning? It took me several years to develop a process that I was happy with, and which delivered the benefits that I was assured goal setting and self-reflection would have for my students. Now, I am convinced that goal setting and self-reflection have huge benefits in today’s classroom.
The Benefits of Goal Setting in the Classroom
Develops self-awareness and self-reflection
Goal setting is a powerful tool that can help young learners develop self-awareness and self-reflection skills. By setting goals, students are encouraged to think about their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth. This process helps students gain a better understanding of themselves and their capabilities, which can be valuable in all areas of their lives.
Enhances motivation and engagement
When students set goals, they are more likely to feel motivated and engaged in their learning. Setting goals provides students with a sense of direction and purpose, helping them stay focused on their priorities. This motivation and engagement can lead to improved academic performance and greater success in school.
Promotes growth mindset
Goal setting promotes a growth mindset by emphasising the idea that intelligence and abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication. This mindset is an important factor in academic and personal success because it encourages students to view challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement.
Improves academic performance
By setting academic goals, students are more likely to succeed in school. They develop a stronger sense of responsibility for their own learning and are more likely to take ownership of their academic progress. Additionally, the process of setting goals can help students break down big tasks into smaller, actionable steps, leading to improved time management and organisation skills that can contribute to academic success.
Goal Setting with Young Learners
Strategies for teaching goal setting can vary depending on the age and learning needs of the students, but there are some effective techniques that can be used to support young learners in developing goal setting skills. Here are some strategies that can be used to teach goal setting to young learners:
Create a goal setting routine
Establishing a regular routine for goal setting can help young learners develop the habit of setting and working towards goals. This routine may involve setting aside time each week to review progress, set new goals, and reflect on successes and challenges.
Encourage self-reflection and self-assessment
Helping students develop self-awareness and reflection skills is an important part of goal setting. Encourage students to reflect on their strengths and areas for improvement and guide them in setting goals that are both challenging and achievable.
Celebrate successes and learn from failures
Celebrating successes, no matter how small, can help young learners build confidence and motivation to continue working towards their goals. Similarly, learning from failures and mistakes can help students develop resilience and a growth mindset.
By using these strategies, teachers can help young learners develop important goal setting skills that will serve them well throughout their academic and personal lives. With practice and support, students can learn to set and achieve meaningful goals, setting them up for success both in and outside of the classroom.
Establishing an effective goal setting routine
✅ Set aside a period each week for goal setting and self-reflection.
✅ Initially you may decide to help your students choose their goal by giving them a number of goals to select from. For easier management, you may even guide several students to work on the same goal.
✅ Create goal posters, write or place name tags on them and display them in the classroom. Students will then support and cheer each other on. The posters will encourage parents to help their children to work towards their goal and are they are very helpful for teachers to see at a quick glance.
✅ Students record their goal and consider what steps they will take to achieve it.
✅ Keep the goal in mind. Create a goal setting book and read it each day. Look at and discuss the posters in the classroom.
✅ After a short period of time, students reflect on their success. If they were successful, celebrate. Celebrate others achieving their goals too.
✅ If they weren’t successful, yet, why? And what will they do next week to work towards a success?
As a teacher, supporting student goal setting in the classroom can involve providing guidance, resources, and feedback. It can also involve creating opportunities for students to reflect on their progress, adjust their goals if needed, and celebrate their achievements. It is a very rewarding and exciting way to encourage ownership of your students' learning. And it is entirely possible to have six- and seven-year olds setting their own goals!
You might like to see the materials available in these resources:
Math Goal Posters
English Goal Posters
Behaviour Goal Posters
“My Goal Setting Book”
Editable Goal Sheets and Name Tags
An Excel worksheet to record the goal setting