This collection of protocols teaches students how to establish meaningful SMART goals that lead to increased student ownership over learning. On a regular basis, students have the opportunity to revisit their goals and track their progress using protocols such as WOOP, Post-it Note Goal Setting, GOAL journaling, and/or Daily or Weekly goal setting and reflection protocols. These strategies lead to increased student motivation and promote a personalized approach that gives each student the chance to establish unique goals and monitor their progress toward meeting those goals.
Decide frequency of goal setting practice for students. (Once a day? Once a week? Once a unit?)
Identify the characteristics of an effective goal that promotes growth. Use the SMART framework:
Specific: The goal should be simplistically written and clearly define what the participant is going to do. This should address the what, why, and how of the goal.
Measurable: The goal should be measurable so that the participant has tangible evidence that he/she has accomplished the goal.
Achievable: The goal should stretch the individual slightly so the he/she feels challenged, but defined well enough so that the goal feels feasible. The participant must possess the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to achieve the goal.
Realistic: The participants may need support understanding what kind of goals are achievable given the available resources. To scaffold support, allow participants to select from a predefined list of behaviors or academic needs to help support the creation of realistic goals.
Timely: The goal should be linked to a timeframe that creates a practical sense of urgency for the individual.
Ask students to develop 2-3 SMART Goals, and record them in a journal, Google Doc, or using DataBox (see resource below). Consider using the SMART goal template (resource below).
Have students periodically revisit their goals, and write reflections on whether or not they're on track to achieve their goals.
The WOOP protocol is a strategy designed and tested by Professor Gabriele Oettingen at New York University to help people do the things they really want to do. This strategy supports students to specify a Wish, identify and imagine the best possible Outcome, anticipate and imagine the critical Obstacles to achieving that outcome, and form a simple if-then Plan to overcome the obstacles should they arise. The WOOP protocol has been shown to improve effort, homework completion, attendance, GPA, stress levels, and overall health - significantly more so than unstructured "positive thinking." The WOOP protocol helps students develop a growth mindset, as they identify the key practices and activities that will help them achieve their goals. The WOOP protocol can also be used by instructional coaches to support teachers in strengthening a plan for their teaching before implementing.
The steps below have been adapted from the WOOP My Life website, which provide many helpful resources and worksheets.
GOAL journaling is a 4 step process, best executed when the first two steps are done at the beginning of a class period, a day, or a week, and when the other two steps are done at the end the period, day, or week.
The first two steps (G, O) are "looking forward steps" inviting students to express gratitudes (G) and set objectives (O) for a class period. These objectives are not directly related to the daily lesson objective, but to bigger personal objectives that students are invited to create every quarter.
The last two steps (A, L) are "looking back steps" inviting students to write personal affirmations (A), small wins for the day, as well as lessons learned (L) that can be inspired by mistakes made.
Students at every grade level and in every content area can benefit from practicing this routine. Modifications can easily be implemented for younger students to be able to record their reflections, instead of writing them, as the desired outcome of this strategy is to make all students more likely to reach their big goals by breaking them down into manageable steps. It is important that the students communicate these goals to themselves and possibly to an accountability partner to create a space for reflection, learnings, and gratitude, which helps students feel grounded and balanced between what they have accomplished and what they still have to do.
Post-It Note Goal Setting allows students to create personalized goals that are visible to themselves, their peers, and the teacher. This strategy can be implemented daily, weekly, monthly, per assignment, per unit, etc. Post-It Note Goal Setting helps students identify areas of growth and create individualized goals which allows students to monitor their progress and strive for improvement and growth. It also allows others in the classroom see each student's goals in order to provide support or recognize achievements.
Daily Goal Planning is a tool to help students make their own individual goals and track their progress on a daily basis. Students can set daily goals based on the teacher's learning targets or based on their individual learning targets in a self-paced classroom. Teachers should model for students how to set achievable and actionable daily goals before having students set goals on their own. Teachers and students should reflect on their daily goals at the end of the lesson in order to set next steps. Daily Goals can be used as a way to differentiate goals for students and to help students not feel overwhelmed by tasks. Daily Goals can also be be shared with families in order to keep them aware of student progress.
Weekly goal setting and reflection allows students to take ownership of their learning by mapping out what they want to work on and accomplish each week in the classroom. By utilizing the weekly goal setting and reflection strategy, students are able to plan their work timeline and objective goals at the beginning of each week and then reflect on their achievements, areas of growth, and completion timelines at the end of each week. For the teacher, weekly goal setting provides opportunities for 1:1 conferencing with students regarding their goals, progress, and growth areas.
While students are engaging in distance learning, it is even more important for them to set personalized goals and for teachers to frequently check in with students on their personal goals and their progress toward those goals.
Building in time for goal setting and reflection supports students with disabilities by providing a safe, structured opportunity to develop goal setting and reflection skills, to more concretely identify their areas of growth to build ownership in their learning.
Using goal setting and reflection tools to help students requires significant executive functioning (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.) and written expression skills. In order to support students with disabilities who have difficulty in these areas consider the following modifications:
Use visual aids, timers, and verbal reminders to help students with task initiation and task completion during goal setting. Depending upon the number of students with disabilities present in a classroom, teachers should consider increasing the amount of time they spend on explicitly teaching goal setting setting norms.
If multiple teachers are present in a setting, consider having one teacher work in a small group of students with disabilities to provide them more modeling and more frequent feedback on progress toward their goals. Teachers should also consider having more frequent celebrations for progress towards goals shown by learners with more intensive disabilities.
Goal setting is an important skill for all learners to develop. English learners benefit from the guided practice offered by this strategy.
English learners are required to listen to and read about creating SMART goals. Learners need to read and write in order to create their goals and analyze their progress. They are also asked to convey their goals through discussion with their teachers. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:
Explicitly pre-teach S.M.A.R.T goal vocabulary. Consider translating specific, manageable, attainable, relevant, and timely into learners’ home language.
Perform 1:1 check-ins with English learners. Use the independent work time to ensure learners are using graphic organizers correctly and crafting appropriate goals. Consider partnering with learners’ language specialist to preview and support the process for learners who are new to goal setting.
Google Docs is an online word processor (part of Google Apps) that allows you to store, create, and edit documents collaboratively in a web browser.
Teachers can create a SMART goal template through Google Docs to share with students. Students can create their SMART goals and then collaborate virtually with the teacher or their peers regarding their SMART goals. Teachers can provide feedback through the commenting options with Google Docs.
Databox is a tool that allows the user to set and track SMART goals automatically. The user can also assign time limits to goals and track progress towards goal completion.
Padlet is a digital corkboard type tool that students can use to gather information or reflections. Teachers can easily access each students' Padlet with a shared link.
Padlet supports this strategy by providing a digital platform for students to post their goals on a digital "whiteboard/corkboard." Students can also comment on each others goals.
Seesaw is a virtual portfolio in which students can upload their work (videos or documents) in order to demonstrate their progress. The students can comment on their work and these portfolios can be shared with parents
As students build their seesaw portfolios, they can also take photos of their post-it note goals and comment regularly on seesaw about whether they are meeting those goals, and display evidence (student work or videos) demonstrating how they are meeting those goals
Google Forms allows you to capture quickly all objectives set by students and all their reflections in one spreadsheet that you can leverage to monitor their progress
It can also allow you to collect feedback from your students on the impact GOAL has had on them
The WOOP app guides you through the four steps of WOOP (Wish, outcome, Obstacle, Plan) and allows you to save as many WOOPs as you like.
Teachers and students who want to create WOOPs on their own may benefit from using the WOOP App to do so from their phones or tablets.