Are you interested in helping your students to set SMART goals in school counseling? Need more info on what a SMART goal actually is and how to possibly get an 11 year old to make one!?! Well, I’ve got you covered because this January post is devoted to inspiring and infusing your students with goals! And any goal worth its salt these days has to be a SMART goal. Let’s dive into what makes a goal SMART.
SMART Goals: What are they?
A SMART goal should specifically and comprehensively state what will be achieved in a reasonable amount of time. George Doran, the former director of corporate planning for the Washington Water Power Company, coined the term SMART Goal in 1991. Mr. Doran’s original idea for this type of goal has been modified slightly through the years. Today, there are five important characteristics that make up the modern day SMART goal.
SMART Goals: Characteristics
All SMART goals share 5 characteristics that set them apart and make them more effective than less structured goals. SMART goals are:
S – specific (Exactly what do you want to achieve?)
M – measureable (What is the proof that you will see when you achieve your goal?)
A – achievable (Can you realistically achieve your goal?)
R – relevant (Is your goal worthwhile for you to achieve?)
T – time bound (When will you achieve your goal?)
SMART Goals: Why Use Them?
SMART goals help students (and adults) set the right goal, rather than just any goal. Goals that are vague or unattainable are often more damaging than no goals at all. The 5 characteristics of the SMART goal guides the student to focus on what exactly what is needed for a successful outcome. So rather than set them up for failure, as a too-lofty or undefined goal might do, SMART goals set them on the path to achieve what they want. When students set out to accomplish a realistic goal that is specifically laid out within a given time-frame, their chances for goal achievement skyrocket.
SMART Goals: How Students Can Create Them
So, now that you know what a SMART goal is and why it is important, let’s jump into how to get your student/s to create one. Begin by explaining to the student/s what a SMART goal is. First, point out what each of the letters in SMART stands for. Next, armed with a note card, pencil, and your own goal in mind, begin to model writing out your SMART goal. Verbalize what you are thinking as you go through each characteristic of SMART so the student/s can observe your thought process as you create your goal.
After you model each characteristic, hand out a note card to the student/s and have them create and share their own SMART goal. You can use this academic goal template and it can easily be modified into a behavior goal as well. For more on academic goals, check out this previous academic achievement post that I wrote. If you are doing goal work with a group or class, you can have them check each others’ goals for SMART characteristics by showing a thumb up or thumb down for each one. It is also a good idea to have the student/s share their goal with someone in their family to infuse what they are learning at school into the home environment as well.
SMART Goals: How Students Can Achieve Them
Once your student/s has created their goal, give them a few days or a week to start working on it. Then, check in with them to share successes toward achieving their goal. It is really important during this followup step that the student identify a goal success. For example,”My goal success is that I brought my math grade up 7 points so I am now only 5 points away from achieving my goal of earning a 75% in math!”
If you have a student/s who struggles to identify a goal success, you might review their goal and find a success yourself. In a group setting, you can also ask another student to help the struggler find a success, no matter how small. Here is a template that can help your student/s share their goal successes. I also like to send out a weekly goal reminder note to my students to motivate them to work on goal achievement away from me. An example of this reminder is in the photo below.
SMART Goals: Favorite Resources
- Here is an extensive SMART Goal lesson plan with detailed steps on guiding all students through creating and achieving the SMART goal.
- If you want to take your SMART goal work a step further, here is a link to a group counseling book that focuses on SMART goal achievement with regard to grade improvement, emotional regulation, behavior changes, and more!
- If you’d like to go in a bit of a different direction with SMART goals, check out this article by the DIY Counselor and Confident Counselors.
- The Kidshealth website is my go-to for so many resources and it definitely doesn’t disappoint with respect to SMART goals! Check out these goal goodies!
NEWSY & NOTEWORTHY
- I’ll be presenting on Building Positive and Empowering Attitudes for Our Students During Testing Season over at the Region 13 Education Service Center in Austin on January 24. Here’s the link– come see me if you are in the neighborhood!
- If professional development from your couch or counseling office is more your style, here is the link to the ASCA group counseling webinar that I’ll be giving on April 16.
- I’ve been busy working on my Teachers Pay Teachers store over the break. Check out some of the new resources I’ve added there!
- Self Harm Info for Staff
- Suicide Prevention Presentation
- Mental Health Bundle
- Presenting Your School Counseling Program to Parents and Staff Throughout the Year
- All of the Above Bundle if you want all the above info in one package!
This brings me to the end of my January post. Please leave a comment because I’d love to hear what goals you are working on with your students! Catch up with me again in February for my monthly counseling post that I share during the first weekend of every month!