Do you know what motivates you? What is it that fires you up on the inside? For me, it’s setting a goal. A specific, stretch-able goal that pushes me to grow and persevere. Hey, I was a huge fan of the concept behind a SMART goal before teachers started using them in their Professional Learning Communities. 🙂
One of the core values I always try to communicate to my students each year is the concept of goal setting. Recently I attended a professional development session at my school district. The presenter shared a simple idea to remind students to set and work for their goals.
At the beginning of an assignment, ask your students to set a goal focused on the score they want to earn. For example, if it’s a spelling test, then students would write at the top of their paper the score they will work towards earning. Notice my phrasing – I didn’t say what they “hope to get.” I want students to connect their achievement with their efforts. They are not helpless in this endeavor. I believe such a specific choice of words instills in children a belief in their self-efficacy.
Self-Efficacy in Education
When children (or anyone for that matter) have a strong sense of efficacy, they are confident in their capabilities. Without such a belief, it is difficult to persevere and overcome difficulties. Much has been written about the impact of efficacy, especially in regards to students and their learning. Here are a few articles I found in a quick Google search if you want to read more about it:
Practice in Action
Here are some photos of a few assignments my students completed recently. I had them write their goal for the assignment at the top of the page. Eventually (after I had graded an assignment), my kiddos got their assignments back and could compare their goal with what they had achieved. My principal commented in a recent evaluation about how excited the students were when they saw the comparison.
When they were finished and set to turn it in, I would often ask them, “Do you think you will reach your goal?” If they answered yes, I would ask them to briefly explain why they were so confident. On a few occasions, I received a “no” or “I’m not sure” response, we would discuss what they needed. Did they need clarification about a step in the process or more time to complete the task, etc.? You don’t have to ask these types of questions with every student on every assignment. Do it often enough to establish the expectation in your classroom that we are all capable learners. We are actively engaged in our learning.