Ready, Set, Goals!

Marathon finish line. Free public domain CC0 photo.

As we begin our new year, we renew our focus on district-wide, school-wide, and classroom goals. Students themselves are a vital component of the goal setting process, and they should have the opportunity to create and pursue meaningful learning goals. What can classroom teachers and content specialists do to help students establish such goals?

In the article Developing Strong Goal Setter and Goal Getters (, author Connie Moss provides a perspective regarding helping students identify and achieve learning goals. According to Moss, teachers can help students by:

  1. Introducing the target. Identifying the big picture goal helps students know where the work will take them. Use standards or “I can” statements to help students get the clarity they need to succeed. 
  2. Contextualizing the learning. Providing students with information about why they are engaging in the learning activity and how the learning activity fits into a larger plan is helpful for students. 
  3. Practicing to deepen understanding. Creating opportunities for students to interact with content using strategies that engage higher order thinking and greater levels of questioning is helpful in expanding their depth of knowledge. 
  4. Communicating success criteria. Clearly articulating lesson success and overall goal success helps students see the big picture and move forward in their learning. They are more likely to cross the finish line if they see the finish line. 

As you prepare for next week, think about how these suggestions might be used to help your students. I’m sure they’ll appreciate your efforts!

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