Setting Goals in the Primary Classroom

Hey guys and dolls, how’s it going? Today we’re going to talk about goal setting!!! Previously we discussed introducing data notebooks in your classroom, and we’ve talked about the next steps to get them up and running. The next part that I’ve found difficult to achieve in a primary setting is how to get students this young to set goals. I can definitely tell you that goal setting is a lot of work! So, let’s dig in, shall we?

What is goal setting?

Why I’m so glad that you asked! It’s so much more than thinking about where we want to be.  Yes, we do begin with the end in mind, and we think about where we want to end up. It also involves creating an action plan, with steps that are clearly defined. At this early stage, we (teachers) put an action plan together, and we take clearly defined steps. Students at this young age normally sit this part out! I do like to include the students, and I just simply say to them that we’re going to work together and pick what we need to work on and learn about. Then, we focus on the learning process, rather than concentrating on the outcome. 

What does goal setting do for your students?

I’ve always questioned goal setting for young students, because sometimes I think that we can try to make them be mini-adults all too often. However, if done correctly, it can promote focus, by giving them something to zero in on, and it can motivate your students.  This is especially helpful to students who struggle with school, it can provide them with a strong sense of purpose. 

Where do I start?

So, before you can help your students to set goals, you must have a starting point.  What does this mean? Baseline assessments! After taking a peek at your data, and seeing where your students are, that’s when the goal-setting can begin.

Mistakes in goal setting

Once you and your students plunge into discussions on the results of their baseline assessments and begin to have a dialogue about possible goals, it’s important to avoid the pitfalls of goal setting. We can sometimes set goals that are too big. For instance, in Kindergarten, an end-year goal is for students to beblending CVC words. However, if a child is struggling with letter recognition, then blending should not be their immediate goal. 

Mistakes in goal setting for primary students

Sometimes we can have too many goals. This can be incredibly overwhelming to little ones. Once this happens, they tend to give up. It’s important to only have a few so that they can concentrate fully on those. Often we set goals that are too broad. For instance, we can have students who need to work on phonemic awareness. But we need to help our students to narrow their focus. Perhaps on the first go around, work on identifying rhyming words, and initial sounds.

Goals should be specific! Now, I know that these examples are a little to the extreme, but I hope that you get what I mean! When I’ve tried goal setting before, it was quite a difficult task, especially with primary students.Many of them are in different stages of the developmental progression of writing. So, having them write their own goals was out the door. And I definitely didn’t want them to copy it from the board.

I can set goals!

I created these cut-and-paste goal sheets, where you and your students can set as many or as few goals that they can handle. I like to do a mix of personal goals, such as tying shoes, or taking care of their coats, etc., and some academic goals thrown in there as well. You can find these and more by clicking here

Setting Goals for Primary Students

Goal setting in the primary classroom needs to be something that is attainable and measurable. If not, then your students will not ever care about setting goals. When your students reach a goal? Celebrate!! Make a big deal out of it! This is not something that is easy, and I make mistakes every year. But you know this! As teachers, we learn on the fly by trial and error. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know!

Setting Goals in the Primary Classroom

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