SMART Goals for Students

SMART Goals for students
Motivation. Teachers know that the success or failure of a student depends mainly on motivation. Helping students set goals to do better on assignments, tests, etc. is one way to help them gain motivation and create a plan for improving their performance.

However, simply having students write vague goals such as, “I will do better on my next math test,” or “I will improve my chemistry grade this year,” will not be helpful. In order for a goal to be motivating it must have certain characteristics. One useful acronym for setting a good goal is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound). See our FREE SMART Goal Template for setting SMART Goals at the end of this post.

Poor Goal Example: I will improve my algebra grade by doing better on the tests.
SMART Goal Example: I will earn an 85% or better on my next algebra test, February 15.

Let’s examine each of these characteristics in more detail:
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Helping Students Overcome Procrastination

ClassCrown Procrastination Kid
Amy is a bright student. She is quick-thinking, reads voraciously, pays attention in class, is diligent in her note-taking, and truly cares about learning. And yet, Amy’s grades do not reflect her potential. Her writing assignments, while not ill-conceived, are not well-edited and she rarely turns them in on time. Her test scores are lower than expected given her grasp of the material during class, so it just seems like she isn’t putting in the necessary time to master the material.

After discussing the gap between her potential and her actual performance, it becomes evident that Amy’s problem is one that many students struggle with: procrastination. As caring teachers, it is incredibly disheartening to see a student with great potential unable to perform to her highest abilities due to procrastination. But how do we help Amy? Continue reading

Peg Word System: Memorizing Lists

Frustrated student in class

When I was a freshman in college I learned a study technique in my psychology class that made studying for tests immeasurably easier. When the professor explained it, I thought it sounded absurd, not to mention ineffective. But the professor who recommended it used to give incredible lectures with no notes and was very well-respected for his brilliance and competence. Students were in continual awe of him, wondering how he remembered all of his lectures so well. I knew if he suggested a memory technique, it was worth a try. Boy, am I glad I tried it.

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10 Things Teachers Hate to Hear


1. “My seat feels wet.”
This phrase strikes terror in the heart of any teacher.  It means she must sanitize, figure out if there is a way to get the offender some dry clothes, and keep the other kids from making fun.  Okay, confession.  While I have heard many phrases with the same implication as this one, I must admit that I’ve never heard this one.  I uttered it.  In first grade.  You can blame my friend Valerie for repeatedly asking me to “wait for her” to finish what she was doing before accompanying me to the bathroom during recess.  Why do girls like to go to the bathroom together, anyway?  But I digress . . .

2. “My mom said you were wrong about ______________.” 
Either way you slice it, this is a bad phrase to hear as a teacher.  If you were right and the mom was wrong, you don’t want to correct the child and offend the mother.  If you happened to be wrong about something, you must admit to your student that you were wrong and that’s just downright embarrassing.  It’s happened to me both ways.  Excuse me for forgetting when polio was eradicated, University Professor Mommy.
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Hooray for the Holidays (with FREE writing prompt)

snowGlobe_225pxAs the winter break approaches, I find myself reflecting back on my first year of teaching.  I taught in a low-income seventh grade math and science class and the first few months of teaching were difficult, to say the least.  At times I even wondered if I would make it to Christmas.  It seemed a monumental task.  The week before break, I felt proud that I had made it as far as I had, elated to be getting a two-week break, and optimistic that I would begin the new semester with new ideas and a rejuvenated spirit.  With these upbeat thoughts in mind, I remember that without realizing it, I began humming Christmas songs before the bell rang at the beginning of the last day before break.  Several of my students entered the classroom early to escape the cold, and they smiled at me.  One of them said, “Ms. L., you are so happy!  You are humming!  We’ve never seen you this happy.”  Frankly, I was surprised at myself.  After months of frustration, feelings of defeat, and more than few tears, I finally believed that I would make it to the end of the school year. With a fresh attitude and a bit more confidence, this day was a turning point for me.  Though there were plenty of difficult days ahead throughout the rest of the school year, I think my students were surprised to see a new, happy side of me, rather than a harried, agitated version of me.  It made all the difference.

Perhaps you are a new teacher experiencing something like my first year of teaching.  Or maybe you are an experienced teacher with a particularly challenging class.  On the other hand, maybe you are a seasoned teacher with a great class.  No matter your circumstances, congratulations for making it to Winter Break. As they say, “It’s all downhill from here!”

Please enjoy this free writing prompt as a reward for making it this far. Click Here