Don't Make Writing Goals with Blank Pages - Creating Writing to Make Writing Goals

It was hot and stuffy in the classroom, the anticipation of the new school year still hanging thick in the air. Miss West had places a worksheet on everyone’s desk and had returned to the front of the room.

“Today we’ll make our writing goals for the year,” she said, holding up a space sheet. “I need you to think about how you’d like to improve your writing this year.”

Bayley wrinkled his nose. He tried to remember some of the writing he’d done last year. He remembered that some of it was really good, but he couldn’t remember what he was really good at. And what did he need to improve?

 
 Don’t Make Writing Goals with Blank Pages - Creating Writing to Make Writing Goals. A blog post looking at what students need when they are setting goals at the beginning of the school year. Perfect for back to school.
 

When we ask our students to make writing goals at the beginning of the school year, it can be tempting to jump straight into the goal making process. But many of our students are stepping back into their ‘writing shoes’ for the first time after weeks or months since they last engaged in the writing process.

When the first thing these students are asked to do is ‘make writing goals’, students are working from a blank page. They may end up making writing goals, but it’s highly likely that these goals will just be surface goals which don’t really identify where students can effectively grow and achieve in the year to come.

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As the students tumbled into the room on the first day of school Mr Evans asked them to put their piles of new books at the front of the room.

“Just grab a pen and a regular notebook,” he called out, “and find somewhere comfortable to sit.”

As the students settled around the room, Mr Evans found a piece of music. “I want you to listen to this,” he said, “and write me something. It might be about how the music makes you feel. It might be about your holiday. Or you might write me a brand new story. Just blow the cobwebs away and write.”

He gave the students fifteen minutes of writing time, before asking them to stop their work. “I guess we’d better do the organisational stuff then,” he joked.

What would happen if our students started writing from the very beginning of the first day of school? What message would this send to our students? And how can we use that writing.

By using prompts - questions, quotes, pictures or music - we can give our students something to write about in those early days of school. By repeating this daily over the first week or two, we’re showing them that writing is valued in our classrooms, that it’s something we just do.

We’re also able to use the writing they produce. It can be used as formative assessment in writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation. By writing daily, we get to see how students change and improve, how they approach different prompts or styles of writing, and students get a portfolio of writing to use as they set their writing goals.

Are your students looking through their writing? Grab this free reflection resource 

 
 

Joey put the three pieces of writing down in front of her and smiled at Ruby. “I’ve read through these now, and I think they’re really funny. I’m using the same words a lot, though.”

“Maybe you can put that on your list,” Ruby suggested, “You could try to use a better range of words?”

“I like that,” Joey wrote it down. “I think I’ll do that and work on stronger sentences. Let’s look at your writing now.”

Once students have three or four pieces of writing, even short pieces of writing, they’ll have a starting place for goal setting. Students can sit down and read through their work - whether it’s on their own, with a partner or with the teacher - to determine what they’re doing well and where they’d like to improve. Having the writing there in front of them gives them a solid starting place - a concrete example of what kind of writers they are so they can create goals to become the writers they want to be.

Get Back to School and Writing resources here

 
 

5 Ways to Find Joy in Your Classroom and Teaching

 

Teaching can be really hard. So much is expected of teachers in so little time and with so few resources. Sometimes we find ourselves facing problems which we just can’t unravel, no matter how hard we try. And there are days when we ask ourselves why we persist.

Each year I choose a word to aim to - I think about what the word means and how I can bring more of those concepts into my life. In 2018, that word is JOY. I realised that joy is one of those things which can make the classroom an easier place to be, something which can bring light, even on the dim, dark days. But how can we find joy in the classroom and in our teaching?

 
5 Ways to Find Joy in Your Classroom and Teaching from Galarious Goods
 

1. Bring things of beauty and joy with you

There are some objects which just bring a sense of joy with them. It might be their colour or their shape or the reminder of a happy moment. We can bring these things - or things inspired by them -  into the classroom with us.I have a collection of bells which bring me happiness - one was bought on a holiday with friends, another has a unique sound, the third was given to me by a student. They were perfect for my desk in the classroom and brought joy whenever I saw them or rang them. You might have a framed photo of family or friends, an image of an amazing place you’ve been or would like to go or special pens, pencils or highlighters which make you happy.

You might take it further and decorate your whole classroom to make it a happy place. You might fill it with rainbows or images of plants, you might include happy quotes or use your favourite colour  as a background on a notice board.

What if you don’t have a dedicated classroom space? Bring some joy with you! It might be a beautiful lanyard or a lovely pencil case. You might like to buy a special planner (like this one from Mrs Strawberry, these planning sheets from Green Grubs, this library planner from Little Library Learners, or this planner from Oceanview Resources); a planner cover or decor like these beautiful options for New Zealand teachers from Green Grubs or binder covers like these from Jewel's School Gems. Use beautiful pictures as your computer background or screen saver. Buy some nice folders to hold your items or add lovely labels to your cart.

2. Reframe the mundane

A lot of teaching is repetitive . . . and a little bit boring. And while we can make some of it fun, some of it has to just be what it is.

But we can make it a little more joyful by reframing what’s happening in our heads. We can look for the little pieces of joy and remind ourselves that they’re there.

Staff meetings are a perfect example of this. The workplace health and safety officer might be going through the fire drill process for the 10th time in the year - but that means all teachers will be better prepared if there is a fire. And isn’t it great that they take their job seriously - it might really save a life or prevent and injury one day.

Marking can also seem endless, but look for those moments where students have shown improvement or really taken on something you’ve taught in class. Find those little pieces of joy in their work and celebrate them.

3. Work in the Affirmative

I love using affirmations - they’ve been part of my life since I was young and my mother used them with us. I use them quite a lot, these days - as motivation, for calming, for reflecting on what I’m doing and what I’d like to be doing.

Affirmations can definitely be used to bring joy into the classroom. It might be in the form of a lovely quote or poster which you hang in your classroom, or you might like to take a few moments to write your own at the beginning of the day or week. You can keep them in your teacher diary or on your desk or use them as part of a display at home or school. 

Looking for some teaching affirmations? Download my free set of teacher affirmations here.

 
 

4. Get Dancing

Well, you don’t have to dance. You could sing. Or run. Or make yourself the nicest coffee . . . 

The idea is to treat yourself - find activities or rituals which make you really happy and make sure to build them into your weekly schedule. It might be something you can do at school - one year a group of teachers at my school organised an exercise boot camp on the school oval after school, or you could always begin your school day with a song which makes you happy. Or it might be something which you participate in outside of school - a few years ago, I participated in adult ballet classes on Wednesday nights. It made me happy and gave me exercise!

If you have something you do every day, think about how you can make it happier. Always start the day with a cup of tea? What about having a pretty tea cup or tea thermos to drink it from? Like to eat a nice salad for your lunch at school? Could you add a nice relish or dressing or some lovely herbs to make it happier? Buy a nice hat for playground duty, treat yourself to joyful sticky notes, theme your daily whiteboard reminders to your favourite children’s books - treat yourself in ways which bring joy!


5. Bring joy and passion to your subject matter

Do you enjoy what you teach? Really enjoy it?When you enjoy what you’re teaching, your students feel it. If you share that joy, the excitement level in the room often rises and you’ve got a greater chance of having one of ‘those’ lessons which you want to repeat over and over. 

But what if you’re not teaching something you love? Is it possible to get really excited about mixed fractions? (Well, I enjoy them, but I’m occasionally strange!).Can you connect them to something you enjoy? Maybe you can combine mixed fractions and a chemistry or baking exploration? Or use them in a graphing or mapping exercise? Or use them to talk about how many books your class has read?

Or, you could connect them to something your class really enjoys. Challenge them to connect mixed fractions to unboxing videos or superheroes or making slime. Feed off their excitement and see how far it will take you. 

Don’t forget to keep a record of those really great lessons. It might be a photo or a short description. You might collect some feedback from your students or make a video about it. Use photos and descriptions to make a special noticeboard of happy lessons you’ve had with your class. These records can be great for your teaching portfolio, but they can also serve as a reminder of all the happy teaching moments you’ve enjoyed.


How do you bring joy to your classroom? Let me know in the comments!

 
 
 
 

5 Great First Day of School Reads

Recently, I was fortunate to be part of the free Back to School eBook - an Australian and New Zealand Teacher Authors Collaboration. One of the things the participating teacher-authors included was a back to school tip. Mine, of course, was related to reading, so I couldn’t help but dig a little deeper and think about what books I’d love to read aloud on the first day of school. I’m thrilled to present this short list:

 
First Day of School Reads - a Back to School Blog Post from Galarious Goods
 

1. Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

Theme I’d touch on: It’s ok to try new things out, but it’s also ok to just do you.

You could really read just about any Aaron Blabey book - they’re so funny and surprisingly detailed and really engaging. I love Thelma the Unicorn because she wants something, makes it happen (with glitter), experiences and enjoys it, then goes back to her old world. It also touches on bullying - particularly senseless bullying we often see, which allows for some good cyber safely messages.


2. The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland

Theme I’d touch on: We can help find solutions when we listen to the problem

There’s been a number of ‘bear’ books, but the original is still my favourite. Its rollicking, rhyming style is so easy to read and there’s several messages you can look at closer with your students. I love that Lion, Moose and Zebra think that being more like them is the solution, because they’re happy aren’t they? It takes sheep’s empathy to really hear Bear and realise that he’s severely sleep deprived! We can all be better listeners, and this is a message which can carry on from the beginning of the school year

 

 
5 Great Back to School Reads from Galarious Goods
 

3. Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

Theme I’d touch on: It’s ok to be proud of school and it’s ok to work hard at school

This is a book I’d probably read in upper primary grades where we can look at the background around it. That can also be an age where it’s seen as ‘cool’ to disengage from school or school work, and those who are enthusiastic about their school lessons can be seen as ‘different’ or ‘geeky’. This book points out why education is important and how lucky many students are and opens the school year with permission to take education seriously.

4. The beginning of Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman

Theme I’d touch on: Children around the world are living lives both different and the same as us

I adore this book and I know it’s often taught in the upper years. Even if you’re not taking an in-depth look at it until later in the year, you can read a ‘teaser’ of the book and open up a discussion about the differences and similarities in the world. It can be a good challenge for students to consider the world beyond their own experiences and open the class up to a year of discovery and reflection.

 
Five Great Back to School Reads from Galarious Goods
 

 

5. The Tomorrow Book by Jackie French

Theme I’d touch on: Where are we going and how can we solve the obstacles in our way

If you’ve got a future or a STEM focus in your classroom, this gentle picture book can be a great first day of school opening. It invites questions, thoughts, brainstorms, new vocabulary and investigation - just what your need for an exciting, investigative year to come.

What books do you enjoy reading at the beginning of the school year? Which books have been most successful?

 
 
 
 

5 Things School Parents Might Worry About (And how teachers can help those worries)

I’ve checked the new school bag, bought the new water bottle, browsed Pinterest for lunch box treats. Excitement is at an all time high here because my eldest is about to start school.

Despite all my own school experience, I - inevitably - have some worries. And I’m not the only one. Parenting groups I’m part of are filling up with questions and concerns and parenting blogs are publishing posts to help parents with their concerns.

So, what are these concerns? And how can teachers address them - and alleviate them?

 
5 Things School Parents Might Worry About (And how teachers can help those worries) A Back to School blog post from Galarious Goods
 

1. Have I Got Everything Right?

Is the uniform right? Have I bought the right shoes? What books do I cover and name and which ones do I leave? When do I send the library bag to school? What time should I arrive for the school assembly? 

Schools have their own rhythms, routines and systems. So do different teachers and classrooms. Every time a new school year starts, parents and students need to get used to these rhythms and systems and work out how they fit into the rest of life.

While teachers often take the time to go through the little details with students, parents are often left asking questions of more experienced parents or making worried posts in Facebook groups. Lots of parents don’t want to add to the stress of teachers and students in the first days of school by getting it wrong.

You can help these worries by making your school and your own expectations as clear as possible. If you want all books covered and named, let parents know through a note or an email. Ask your administration team to provide examples of the ‘right’ shoes at orientation sessions or meetings with new parents. Use a calendar to help parents know what’s coming up. These little details can help parents be more prepared, which means students are more likely to arrive on the first day ready to learn.

2. What Should I Talk to the Teacher About and How Should I Do That?

Do I let them know we’ve had a bad night’s sleep? Do I let them know that they’re finding the reader way too easy or way too hard? Do I ask them how my child is settling in? Can I get clarification on this homework?

Teacher time is valuable time, and it can be hard for parents to know how to navigate that, while sharing information and not being ‘that’ parent. 

What you want to know or how you’d like to communicate with parents will differ depending on your school, the age of the students and your own preferences. But let the parents know what you’d prefer, whether it’s a short note at the beginning of the day if something at home is likely to impact on the student’s learning, an email to clarify an assignment or a formal meeting set through the school office to discuss greater concerns. You may have a ‘no question is too small’ policy or you might like to produce a ‘frequently asked questions’ handout for parents to address those questions you get year after year. 

3. Will My Child Be Recognised in the Classroom?

Will they remember to speak up? Will the teacher have time to see them with all the other students and forms and reports and outcomes and curriculum they need to get through? Do I need to tell them about what my child can or can’t do, or will the teacher pick that up themselves? Will the teacher be able to work on their weaker areas? Will the teacher see who they are?

Parenting can be worrying, but it can be especially so when we hand our kids over to other people! Parents tend to know so many of their child’s strengths, weaknesses and individual quirks, so it’s easy to worry how a teacher of so many students (with so many other things to do!) will be able to see each student.

One way to address these worries is by making individual contact early in the year. It might be a short note about how the student has gone in the first two weeks or a quick chat at the end of the day. It might be a conversation as part of a back to school or meet the teacher night or a quick phone call to talk about something the student has done well and to address any questions. 

You can also combine these forms of contact with a parent survey - asking parents to talk about their children might help you pick up on things you haven’t picked up on yet. 

If you’re making phone calls home, you might like to use this free Parent/Carer Phone Call Log - it’s an easy way of seeing which parents you’ve contacted and which ones you need to contact, as well as allowing you to record anything you might need to follow up on.

 
 

4. Will My Child Get In Trouble?

Will they listen to the teacher? Will they be nice to other children? Will they talk too much in class? Will they behave themselves at assembly? Will they behave themselves when they’re tired? 

Almost all students are likely to get into trouble at some point. We know that as teachers and parents definitely know that about their own children. So the answer to this one is usually ‘yes, your child will get into trouble at some point.’

Schools often have really detailed behaviour management plans, but these can be a little overwhelming. Plus they don’t always cover the day to day teaching and management of behaviour which happens in the classroom.

Teachers can definitely help break these down and can work with parents as a team on behaviour. If you’re concentrating on a behaviour - raising hand in class or being kind in the playground, for example - you can let parents know. When parents know that’s something to be worked on, they can reinforce the good behaviour at home. 

You can also let parents know that certain behaviours are normal and even expected at different ages.

5. How Can I Help At Home Without Stepping on the Teacher’s Toes?

If I’m reading at home should we talk about the letters and the sounds they make? Should we be doing maths problems or do I leave them for the classroom? I know they’re learning about volcanoes this year, should we do some reading at home first or just wait?

Many parents want to support their children when it comes to learning. But often they’re not sure how to go about it without getting in the way of the teachers and the work they’re doing. 

Teachers can help with this worry by having a list of activities parents and students can do at home together. It might be general like reading books, looking at maps of trips, helping with chores around the house, playing with toys which develop fine motor skills, getting out and exercising together or exploring the interests of the child. Or it might be more focused like looking at sight words, practising time tables or maths facts, looking for interesting words when reading and making a personal dictionary, talking about family history.

If students need more focused help or are showing particular interest in a subject, it’s worth passing on this information to parents as well so they can expand on that at home.

I’ve had several parents ask what tutors (for students at all levels) can do to help. It’s worthwhile to think of the skills which might need reinforcing or extending at different times of the year and to have a list which can be used by the student and the tutor.

You might also like to think of ‘sideways’ activities which the students can engage in. If a student really likes a book you’re reading in class, you might like to suggest that they research what other books are available on a similar topic or by the same author. If you’re learning about Ancient Egypt, they might like to read about other ancient civilisations. A student who is really into mathematics might like to brainstorm places they find or use a maths concept in the ‘real world’. 

There are lots of ways parents can help with learning outside of the classroom and it’s worth the time to offer some suggestions to engage the whole family in the learning of the student.

 

Have you found some effective ways to alleviate the worries of parents at the beginning of the school year? Share them in a comment!

 
 
 
 

Making Contact With Parents

My son has taken his first steps into formal schooling this year and it's been fascinating seeing it from the other side. He's enjoying it throughly and has a wonderful group of educators, but it has made me think about how parents and educators communicate - and how teachers can ensure that they effectively communicate with their students.

 
 

1. Let Parents Know How They Can Contact You

Whether it's in-person, through email, through notes or on the phone - let parents know how they can get in contact with you. Give them all the information they might need (to include the name/class of their child, to visit at a certain time in person, to leave a return phone number) - anything to make it easier for them and for yourself. Some parents might find it difficult to make contact, so offering a couple of options with some clear information can make it easier for them and help you establish a good relationship with those parents.

2. Reach Out to Contact Parents

There are a number of ways you can make contact with all your parents - through a website or social media page, through email or paper newsletters, through open nights or events where parents are invited. These are wonderful opportunities to let parents know abut curriculum, about behaviour and organisational expectations, about homework and outstanding work. It can be a great way of getting everyone on the same page and can help you create a classroom community which goes beyond you and your students.

3. Contact Parents About the Good Things

This one comes from an old principal of mine. He challenged us all to ring a number of parents each week to share the good things our students were doing. It had an amazing result for our students and their parents - some parents had never had positive news come casually home from school before. It doesn't take too long to identify a couple of parents to phone and a couple of talking points, but it might make a huge difference to them.

4. Be Consistent With Your Contact

Lots of us start off the school year with great intentions, but it can be easy to let it fall aside as other responsibilities pile up. Try to be consistent with at least one kind of contact - even a brief note or blog post can maintain the relationships you have.

Maintaining contact with parents might not seem like the most important thing to do in the very long list of things teachers do, but it's one of those things which means a lot to parents and can help you build a community which helps you out when you need it the most. 

 

You can save time with Back to School and other resources from Galarious Goods. You could spend the time with the photocopier . . . or you could spend it organising how you'; contact parents!

 
 
 
 

Classroom Organisation for the Unorganised

I wish I was one of those 'born organised' people. Sadly, I am not, and my classroom (or at least, my teacher desk) has definitely reflected my struggles to stay organised at times. But over the years I have learned a few things to help even the disorganised among us keep a more organised classroom.

 
 

1. Label Everything

Whether you use a label machine or some of the amazing looking labels you can find over at TpT, try to label everything. There's nothing better than being able to put your hands on what you need right away. Up the organisation by using colours in your labelling - you could divide your subjects by colour or your different year levels.

2. Discard When You Can

Your students have done their diagnostic tests, you've recorded their scores - do you still need to keep the test papers? Maybe you do - so file them away (more on that in a moment), but if there's no need to hold onto them, feel free to relegate them into the bin. This can apply to all sorts of papers - file or toss.

Taking a bigger look - what are you keeping in your classroom that you don't need anymore? Teachers can be champion hoarders, but consider whether you really need all your resources. Are you keeping (and not using) things that are easy to replace? Are you keeping things that you don't want to move if you get a new classroom or move to a new school? Less stuff makes it easier to keep things organised, so devote 30 minutes or so a week to removing some of the items you just don't need.

3. Get Help With Your Filing (And Other Stuff)

Have a lot of student papers which need filing? Get your students to help you. Students can definitely put their own work into folders and bring them back to you - you can even organise them to bring things back in alphabetical order.

Make sure your students also take responsibility for the classroom - it belongs to them as well. Shared work areas should be tidied before they move on to new activities and personal work areas should be tidied each day. Organisation is an important skill for studying and learning, so it's ok to bring it in as something you all learn together.

4. Provide Your Students With Personal Lists (and Make One For Yourself Too)

I spotted this one the other day and was amazed I hadn't thought of something so simple before! A new school student had a thin, laminated list of things they needed to bring to school each day attached to their bag. You can adapt this idea to steps which need to be done to organise each working area or desk. Students can refer to the lists before moving on to new activities or classes.

You can totally make one for yourself as well. What do you need to get done before class starts? Or what do you need to get done before you leave each day to make the next morning run smoothly? Even a list of things you can do when you have 5 minutes spare time can help you be more organised if that happens. Writing it down means you don't have to keep it in your memory and makes it more likely that things will regularly get done.

5. Set a Timer and Check Out Pinterest

It's totally ok to learn from our more naturally organised colleagues and other naturally organised people. Set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes (so you don't get sucked into the Pinterest Vortex), create a new organisation board and get searching. Five minutes into a search on Pinterest and I'm totally making Ikea plans!

Remember not everything on Pinterest will work for you, so allow a cooling period before you go to the shops and buy a lot of expensive storage systems. Take one or two ideas and think about how they'd operate in your classroom. Think about whether you'll need to adapt them in anyway or how you can ensure you'll use them properly. Make sure you've got the best possible solutions for you!

 

I hope these tips can help you become more organised! Feel free to add your own organisation tips, posts or pictures in the comments!

You can save time with Back to School and other resources from Galarious Goods. You could spend the time with the photocopier . . . or you could spend it organising your classroom!!

 
 
 
 

Taking Care of Ourselves as Teachers

Teachers work hard. It's not unusual for teachers to put in long hours, to have teaching constantly on our minds and to put our work before other things. That's not always a good thing, though. Overwork can lead to exhaustion, illness and burnout - leaving us as less effective teachers.

So what can we do to combat the 'work yourself to the bone' attitude? How can we take care of ourselves as teachers?

 
 

1. Eat Proper Meals and Stay Hydrated

As a constant visitor to that box of fundraising chocolates, I'm the last person to tell you to cut out all chocolate. However, eating proper meals and staying well hydrated can definitely help when you're trying to avoid burnout. Think about scheduling time into your week to plan meals, cook ahead and freeze if you can, even planning what you're going to take for lunch each day can make the meal time planning easier. If you're bringing food to school for lunch, invest in a lunchbox that makes you happy - you're more likely to use it if you like looking at it!

A water bottle which makes you happy can also help you drink enough water - especially if you remember to use it. Use your break times to refill it, take it out on playground duties or supervisions, keep it in a place in your classroom where you're sure to remember it!

 
 

2.  Find Moments of Positivity

When you're feeling worn out with work, it can be easy to fall back on more negative thoughts - especially when the news of the world isn't terribly happy. This can have the result of making you feel more worn out. Find the places where you can get a positivity fill - it might be an Instagram feed with beautiful photos (a friend once suggested following florists!), affirmation cards you keep on your desk or in your planner, positive quotes to share with your students, a beautiful picture to look at, or a positivity podcast. 

You might also like to undertake a challenge to be a source of positivity in the world. Look for the times when you can compliment the people around you, play a beautiful or funny piece of music for your students, bring in a treat to share with colleagues or take your family on an outing to a place which is uplifting to you all (we love our local coast town around here - instant mood lift!)

 
 

3. Use Your Time At School Effectively

Time at school is so precious, so make sure you use it! Try not to get distracted by side subjects or talking about non-related stuff with colleagues. Use your planning, marking and organising time to plan, mark, organise, talk with parents, answering emails - things that help you do your work better!

To do this, you might need to find out what helps you focus when you're at school. You might need to spend 30 seconds tidying your workspace or 30 seconds writing a list of things to work on. You might need to invest in a pair of headphones and some music without words (I have a classical music playlist that works for productivity every time!). You might need to close the door to your classroom to let your colleagues and/or students know that you're working. You might need to break big projects down into smaller ones or use a timer to keep yourself on track. 

The more you can get done in school time, the less you bring home. Plus you get those warm fuzzies because you've worked hard in the time given to you for working hard!

 
 

4. Don't Become Too Focused on School

It is possible to become too entranced with school, but it's so important to maintain a life outside of being a teacher. Make time for yourself and the people around you - even if you need to officially schedule it into your phone, planner or calendar. 

One of my former colleagues used to schedule an outing with her young son after school on Fridays. It was the day she'd leave the building right on time, making sure that they got the most of an afternoon treat. Your schedule might include coffee or a walk with friends, an exercise class which leaves you happy, a subscription to the theatre or the ballet, or making time each week to enjoy a hobby or favourite television show. These are the things which bring joy into your life - and they make you a better teacher for it.


You can save time with Back to School and other resources from Galarious Goods. You might not want to spend the time you save with the copier, but it's good to know you'll have the time there when you need it!

 
 
 
 

Helping Our Students With Goal Setting

Setting goals can help students take charge of their own learning and move them towards being more independent learners. It's also something which fits in nicely with back to school or new year activities - giving students a chance to make a fresh start. So, how can we help them set effective goals?

 
 

Talk With Our Students About What Goals Are

When we talk about goals and goal setting, it can become easy for our students to fall onto vague wishes or desires - to be a sports star or to 'do better'. Learning about what a goal is - and what it isn't - can help students to become more thoughtful and focused when they're setting their goals.

Goals are specific things to work towards, often with deadlines and objectives to reach. They can be big things - working towards getting top marks in all subjects - or smaller things - working towards learning certain mathematical facts. They can be aspirational, but should be realistic - for example, most Australian kids can't aim to be the President of the United States since they were not born there!

Encourage Reflection

It's easier to set effective goals when we know where we have strengths and where we can show improvement. Asking students to reflect on their own learning and their past experiences can help them have better success with goal setting. They can look at which subjects they'd like to improve in, but they could also look at their learning habits or how they go with challenging situations. Knowing more about themselves will also allow them to see improvement in the future - to be able to measure how successful their goal setting has been.

Model Goal Setting

There will always be students who learn better when they see what they should be doing. Set goals in front of your students. Go through the processes you might go through to set goals. Make the goals real and achievable - you might want to read certain books through the year or learn more about a specific topic. Allow students to check back in with your goals, let them know if you've been actively working on them or if you think you'll need to alter your goals. The more they see goals being set by other people, the easier it will be for them to set their own goals.

Brainstorm Ideas for Achieving Goals

Don't stop at just setting the goals - help students develop the skills they need to achieve them! I know I've set lots of goals that just end up as pretty little statements hidden in notebooks or tucked away on nice pieces of paper, but that doesn't help me achieve them! Goals are living things which often need feeding and watering to survive! 

Students can work together to brainstorm how they are going to achieve their goals and what steps they'll need to take to get there. Often working on goals can become a little boring or monotonous, so they might like to brainstorm strategies to deal with that as well. The more prepared they are, the easier it will be to achieve those goals.

Revisit Goals

Allow students time to come back on their goals. Show them that goals can be altered if they need to be or that students can come up with new ideas to approach them. Give them time to reflect on what has and hasn't worked as they try to achieve their goal and to think about whether they were too ambitious or not ambitious enough.

By revisiting goals, we also show students that goals don't have to be perfect to work for us. We show students how we can work on them, make them better, learn from our past experiences and grow into better goal setters.

 

By giving our students tools, time and examples, we can help them become better goal setters - a skill which will serve them well beyond their time at school.

 

Looking at goal setting at the beginning of the school year? The Back to School Goal Setting Kit from Galarious Goods is perfect for Grade 5 and 6 students - allowing them to set goals across multiple subject areas.