As someone who’s been in the classroom for more than 20 years, setting goals is one of the best ways to motivate students, no matter how old they are. Like most of us, when we see the results of our hard work, we’re encouraged to keep going and growing. Seeing is believing.
So, here are six creative ways you can help your students see their progress and track their goals.
Tracking Individual Goals
1. Encourage Students to Create Their Own Goals
When students create their own learning goals, those goals are relevant and specific to them, like using a whiteboard to work out math problems or going back and checking and re-checking their answers. Letting students set their own goals empowers them to see what they’re able to do and gives them self-gratification when they achieve it.
2. Create Goal Sheets
Have your students write their weekly goal on their goal sheet that’s achievable but not too easy. Be careful of a “time-on-task” goal because you need to make sure your kids are progressing and not just putting in the time. Your goal sheets should encourage your students to grow a specific amount on their target skills during the week and give them a chance to reflect on it.
3. Hold Data Chats
One-on-one data chats with your students to discuss their goals and growth are important. It's huge when they can see where they’re at—and I show them their data before and after a Diagnostic or when I finish a unit, like fractions. It's important to be encouraging and positive. This is the time to put on your cheerleading hat and root for your students! There’s no such thing as “bad data,” so don't sugarcoat it. Help them understand that in order to improve, productive struggle is necessary, and Stretch Growth® goals can help push them out of their comfort zone. Finally, remind them that you’ll be there to support them along the way.
4. Create a Goal Thermometer
A goal thermometer is a visual way to show your students’ progress. You can keep track of weekly improvements by creating a thermometer with 36 tick marks, or you can track progress by month or quarter. This is a unique way to acknowledge your students’ hard work. After each goal period, fill in the thermometers together. Tracking progress helps engage students and keep goals top of mind.
Tracking Student Goals Schoolwide
5. Create a School Leaderboard to Track and Display Progress
Setting class goals, grade goals, or schoolwide goals can spotlight and celebrate all learners and motivate them to work together. Create a leaderboard that displays progress toward a common goal where everyone can see it. The goal might be academic, like tracking which group reaches the most reading minutes, or it could focus on improving attendance or reducing behavior infractions. At the end of each month, student leaders can update the graphs to reflect the progress and create a friendly competition.
6. Highlight High-Growth Classrooms
You can celebrate the class that reaches their common goal each month by creating themed awards. For instance, in September and October you might do a fall theme like “fall into reading.” In December and January (or even through April in Michigan) you could use a snowflake theme or a snowman-building chart tied to extra recess and hot cocoa. May and March could be Math Madness months. Students always have great ideas so ask them or your student council for input. Engagement is the key. Incentives can really make your students’ growth climb.
Tracking and celebrating student progress can be very motivating. As you explore these and more ways to track and celebrate student success, remember it’s important to motivate them beyond goal setting in ways that engage them in their learning.