Now that you’ve worked with your students for approximately six weeks, you can begin to identify the deeper, executive functioning skills your students need. As you do so, it is an ideal time to turn your focus to setting your own big goals for the school year.
When you set your own goals, you can identify with and come up with strategies for your students when they attempt to tackle these same steps in their goal-setting activities. You’ll also be ready with your own first-hand experiences and examples with which your students can readily identify. Setting and meeting goals is tough stuff—for everyone. By modeling goal setting and using the same tools as your students, you can achieve two big results—making progress on your on goals and helping your students to move forward on theirs! A double win!
Start With Your Own Goals
Every class in every school in every year comes with its own special twists and needs. Refine your own goal-planning process by considering the unique challenges this school year presents. Set or revise your goals as you continue to get to know your students. Set milestone goals for the execution of your plan. This will help you to sketch a visual for the school year.
To achieve cohesive results by the end of the school year, begin with the end in mind. Start by setting three big goals you want to achieve by the end of the school year. Then, as you plan each month, set milestone targets and interim action steps to achieve each month. Each monthly step should lead you closer to achieving your goals for the entire school year.
A Monthly Macro Tool
As you set your own bigger goals, consider how you might use this process as a model for your students. Many student often struggle with breaking down a bigger, longer-term project or goal into manageable, sequential steps. This monthly planner comes in both a write-on/wipe-off format as well as a 25-sheet tear off tablet.
This monthly planner allows students to work backwards, keeping the end date and ultimate results in mind. It’s part of a macro-to-micro planning set that begins at the month level with bigger goals and objectives. By then moving to the week level, you can map out the actions you’ll need to tackle during this week, then wipe off those that are completed and continue this each week. Once your monthly goals are partitioned into the current week’s priorities, it’s a great time to move to the most micro step, that of listing out the actions in a To-Do List.
“Sticking” to Progress
Break down each goal into specific, measurable steps and map out your plan on self-stick notes. Jot down your target actions on the notes and put them on your monthly planner calendar or perhaps longer-term goals can be mapped out on a yearly calendar. Track your progress against your targets. Refine your outlook or timeline as needed. If you fall behind, look realistically at your situation. Consider updating your plan or teaming up with other teachers and brainstorming together about ways to get back on track.
These same strategies work for students, too. This set of sticky notes will help you to prompt your students to stay on track as the progress through their goals.
Students often have trouble remembering the many “pieces and parts” of big assignments. This leads to “rolling over” of activities. “I forgot to bring my book from home, so I’ll have to do that piece tonight or tomorrow.” As a result, time slips away. These reminder sticky notes make it easy for teachers’ too. Because the most typical types of reminders are preprinted, many teachers leave these stickies in a consistent place in the classroom, and make it their students’ responsibility to pull the stickies that they’ll need for that day.
Other teachers have told us they love these Reminder Sticky Note Pad Set so much that they suggest that families also buy a set for their student to use from home, when getting organized for the next day.
Follow these steps when mapping out your own goals and when coaching your students to parse tasks to meet their goals and complete bigger, loner-term assignments.
- Make a long list of possible goals. Capture every idea you have. Don’t worry about the order. Just capture your thoughts. A great tool for this is the two pack of slim notepads, To-Do List and Project planners.
- Review your list of goals. Cross off anything that looks like a task. Tasks are what you’ll do to achieve goals. Here’s a sample goal: By the end of the school year, every student will read at one grade level above his or her start-of-year baseline.
- Once you have eliminated the tasks from your list, begin to group like ideas together. Chances are, similar or associated ideas will become part of one bigger goal when you group them together.
- Edit your list down to three big goals. Three is enough if they are the right goals.
- Write your three big goals for the year and put them in multiple locations (in your journal, on your desk, or even on the bathroom mirror). These also work well on the Project notepad.
- Write each goal in an abbreviated form onto self-stick notes so you can edit and sequence them as needed.
- Big goals are like cakes: you can only eat one slice at a time. Slice your big goals into action steps.
- Use more self-stick notes and a different color pen to write each action step required to achieve your big goals. Review your action steps. Is anything missing? Can you combine any steps?
- Calendarize your goals and action steps by sequencing your activities for each month. Work backward from the end of the year. Consider the amount of time each action step will take. Be honest and realistic about what you can accomplish.
Goal setting takes commitment and patience, external setbacks or other surprises are bound to come up. Most of all, remember that longer-term goals take time to achieve. This is very important for students, as well.
By moving from the macro monthly level, down to the weekly level, and then ultimately to an actionable to-do and/or project list, you and your students are likely to not only BE successful with your goals, you’ll also FEEL more successful!
Check out the entire Executive Functioning product line, including the most economical Executive Functioning Planning System that includes write-on/wipe-off board, notepads, action pads, and sticky notes. These system components are also sold separately.
Keep us posted on how you are doing with your goal-setting work for this school year. Let us know what other products we can create to help you along the way.