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Help your students improve academic achievement and develop strong character traits through the use of SMART goals.

Setting goals provides students with focus and direction, but how we set goals matters.

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SMART is an acronym used to help people make goals that are achievable. The letters stand for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Results-Focused
  • Time-Bound

SMART goals are often employed in the business world and for personal use; however, this lesson focuses on SMART goal setting to improve academic achievement and character development. Why are SMART goals so smart? Let’s take a closer look at what it means to be a SMART goal setter.

Designing a Goal

There are five areas to focus on when setting SMART goals.

When writing a SMART goal, follow the steps outlined here:Specific: There’s no point in writing a goal if you’re not laser clear on what you want. Goals need to be specific, meaning well defined. Anyone who reads the goal should be able to understand exactly what it is you want.Measurable: To prove you met your goal, you’ll need to make sure it’s measurable.

This means you’ll need some way to verify whether or not you are on track to achieve your goal.Achievable : Why make a goal you can’t reach? A goal should always be something that is realistically possible to do, otherwise you’ll be too challenged and not want to work on it.Results-Focused: The focus should be on a measurable outcome.Time-Bound: Be specific. Goals should have a start and end time., not something that lingers.

Making SMARTer Goals Example

SMART goals help get results.

Learning how to create SMART goals is an important step. However, here’s an example of a pretty sad goal:I will do better in math.Make this goal SMARTer using these steps:In the next quarter ending on May 14th, I will raise my grade from a C to a B on math quizzes and from a B to an A on homework.What’s different? The goal setter was specific about raising grades and by how much. This goal is measured through the use of grades and is certainly achievable if the focus is on improving quiz and homework study habits. The result is a B on quizzes and an A on homework.

This goal is also time bound and ends with the end of the next quarter on May 14th. What would make this goal even better is a statement detailing plans to spend two extra hours each week preparing for quizzes and one extra hour each week getting homework done. Those factors might help to determine if the goal setter is maintaining the level of focus necessary to get the grades up, and they help measure and track progress along the way.

Academic SMART Goals

In education, goals are focused on academics – the grades students get and how well they do in school. When setting SMART goals with students, make sure they’re timely. Educators will want to set goals at the beginning of the year and as a grading period happens. That way, students will have data to highlight their current level of performance and be clear about what they want to work on for the next marking period.

SMART goals can be set to help students get good grades by aiming to improve work habits, like study skills.A few more things to consider when writing academic SMART goals:Make them unique to each student. Some children have trouble being introspective and are happy enough to do what their neighbor does.

Set up meetings with each student, talk about past achievements and future objectives, and help guide them towards their very own SMART goal.Make it about more than grades. Academic achievement does mean good grades, but there are quite a few steps involved in that end goal. Does Bobby need to improve study habits? Does Susie spend too much time doodling in her notebook? Think more broadly about how to achieve academic excellence.Start young. Even very young children are able to set SMART goals with a little help. Making goal-setting a standard in the classroom means that by the time they’re in middle school, they have mastered the skill of goal setting.

Finally, make sure you present all SMART goal-setting opportunities as a chance for students to take control of their schoolwork., not another way to assess or grade. Help them understand the purpose of creating goals.

Character SMART Goals

Another area you can focus on with SMART goal setting is character development. Take a look at a not-so-hot character goal:I will be nice to everyone.While this is a noble objective, it certainly isn’t a SMART goal. Look at how this can be improved:First, focus on making the objective time-bound.

Between now and May 31st;Next, add in specific, measurable, achievable, and results- focused.I will say five kind words to the friends at my cafeteria table every day.To make this SMART goal more specific and impactful, brainstorm a list of kind words. If the child is very young or needs a visual reminder to help with the measurement piece, provide a sticker chart or other measurement tool.Like academic goals, character goals may be set at the beginning of the year and at grading time. Use the criteria on report cards for inspiration, or begin a discussion with the class reflecting on behaviors and feelings.

You can also use character SMART goals when learning a unit on a similar topic or when a situation arises for specific students. Keep character SMART goals going throughout the year by checking in with students often.A good way to make goal writing more meaningful for your students is for you to participate as well. Write your own character goals, and share them with the class.

Lesson Summary

Setting goals is an important part of teaching kids that they are responsible for their own achievement. Setting proper goals means you need to be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. Write academic and character goals with students at the beginning of the year and at grading time.

It may be necessary to revisit throughout the year to tweak a goal or if a specific a situation arises. Finally, be a good SMART goal model. Write and share your own goals to make goal writing a whole class experience.

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