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The Importance of Goal Setting

Why should we set goals?

The dictionary defines a goal as the object of someone’s ambition, an aim or a desired result, and I would say that is very applicable to us as educators.

As we enter our classrooms every day, we should always have goals and objectives running through our minds – that’s what allows us to be effective teachers.

Our students are the heart of what we do and the goals we set ought to lead to success for our students. However, in order for that to happen we have to set goals on many levels. Obviously the biggest goal is for our students to be successful in their assessments and achieve great results, but the path to that is long and challenging.

Therefore, it is up to us to stagger the path into smaller parts to make these objectives, or goals achievable. This is where SMART objectives come into play. SMART objectives help us to clarify our ideas and our students’ learning, focus our efforts and use time and resources effectively.

We can use SMART objectives to organise and direct ourselves in an efficient and gainful way, making the most of our time and ultimately moving our students towards success.

SMART goals are a great way to organise ourselves – it could be for our very own personal goals to help us organise our days, or it could be in our roles as educators.

Specific goals are effective as they have no room for manoeuvre – that is they are not generalised or without precision. So for example it may be that we want to mark 20 exercise books by the end of the day, or reply to all emails that need a reply by the end of the day. These goals are also measurable because they have a time constraint. If we don’t manage to achieve something then we have to learn from that about what we are able to achieve in a certain amount of time and adjust our goals.

Each element of a SMART goal tethers us to achieving the desired outcome – success, therefore these goals are very effective to also use with our students.

In lessons we should set objectives/goals at the start of the lesson as well as explain to students how to measure success. The time element will be the length of the lesson and the success criteria will illustrate whether they were achieved or not and as a result, how to move forward in the next lesson.

Goal setting is an extremely effective strategy to us in teaching as well as in everyday life. Goals allow us to move forward in life and have a clear direction to follow. This is true for our students too – we allow our students to independently measure their progress and motivate them to adjust their expectations of themselves and reach their desired outcome.

Set goals today.

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