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5 Ways to Set Exciting Goals in the Upper Elementary Classroom This Year

By Rach JamisonRissa HannekenMarissa DespinsMarianna Monheim, and Tanya Marshall

Setting Goals in the Upper Elementary Classroom

Whether you’re back in school following a winter holiday break, or it’s your first day back in a brand new school year, goals are important! Students need goals in order to strive to better themselves. Teachers need goals in order to have something to look forward to, to feel like you have made it.

Start Setting Goals Immediately

It doesn’t matter if you returned a few weeks ago or today, setting goals as soon as you can is important. Goals that you and your students can strive to meet is what is going to help you feel confident and successful as the weeks pass you by. You already have tons of lessons to teach, meetings to attend, and test(s) to prep for. Why not have students (or your class as a whole) establish what goal they need to meet. One thing we did this new year was the infamous “one word” activity. We tried something a little different, though. While students do have the opportunity to select their own individual words, we decided to brainstorm and find five words we believe already describe our class as a whole, or words we think we really need to work toward. It was so much fun and worth every little second of group discussion, as well as out loud! Check out the activity here.

Staying Organized with a Growth Mindset

Being successful in setting goals for the classroom requires a growth-mindset. This is the reason why Tanya–The Butterfly Teacher always infuses her goal-setting with reviewing character traits. In her blog post on How to Instill a Growth-Mindset in the Classroom, she recommends activities like “goal-setting workshops” and “reviewing failure and success stories” with upper elementary students. Not only do these activities enhance goal-setting, but they also integrate academic content as well. “I always whip out my character traits graphic organizers when we analyze characters who’ve met or did not meet their goals,” says Tanya. This is a powerful way to motivate students to really strive after their own goals!

Setting SMART Goals

Rissa, from Teaching in the Heart of Florida, believes that fostering a growth mindset in students is key to helping them conquer intimidation and the fear of failure. This approach is crucial for enabling students to persist through demanding tasks, such as grasping complex mathematical concepts or understanding intricate texts. Students are often conscious of their weaknesses, which can be disheartening. Here, the practice of setting SMART goals with students proves to be extremely beneficial. The initial step towards student success is to assess their current level accurately. Once a baseline is established, the focus should shift to mastering a specific standard or skill. Rissa recommends allowing students to choose their own goals, a strategy that promotes student engagement and lays the groundwork for their success. For more tips and strategies on effective goal setting, visit the Teaching in the Heart of Florida blog!

Interest Inventories

When setting goals in the classroom, it’s important to show students that progress isn’t linear. Marianna from Creatively Comprehensive thinks that students should have ample opportunities to not only review the steps they’ve taken toward achieving their goals but also reflect on whether those steps are moving them forward or backward on their journey. As this is something students may not have a lot of experience with, Marianna recommends modeling and thinking aloud about a goal you are trying to achieve! Show students that hard work and perseverance are necessary steps toward achieving goals. In addition, if students are having trouble thinking about the types of goals they’d like to set, have them refer back to their interest inventories from the beginning of the year. For example, students may look at a subject they’ve struggled with in the past, and outline steps toward making improvements with that content. Or, they can use these inventories as a way to set a more personal goal, whether it be a social/behavioral goal or one related to their unique interests. You can learn more about interest inventories on the Creatively Comprehensive blog!

Reading Comprehension and Writing Proficiency

Marissa from Creative Classroom Core strongly believes that student goal setting in ELA class plays a crucial role in fostering academic growth and achievement. Setting goals empowers students to take ownership of their learning journey, providing them with a clear direction and purpose in their ELA studies. These goals can encompass a range of skills, from improving reading comprehension and writing proficiency to expanding vocabulary and honing critical thinking abilities. Goal setting also facilitates personalized learning, allowing teachers to tailor instruction to individual needs and helping students track their progress over time. Ultimately, integrating goal setting into the ELA curriculum not only enhances academic performance but also equips students with valuable skills that extend far beyond the classroom. Read more from Marissa by checking out the Creative Classroom Core blog!

Want to learn more about setting goals in the classroom?

Setting Goals for the New Year Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard

How to Simplify Classroom Goals in the New Year

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