The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Setting Goals

I love setting goals. I learned a long time ago that people who set goals are more likely to accomplish things than those who just wish they could do something. When I was in fourth grade, I set a goal to one day teach fourth grade. It took me almost twenty years, but I am doing it! As I teach, I set goals for myself: attend a certain number of professional development workshops, read a certain set of professional texts, and help my students reach specific benchmarks throughout the year.

I also want my students to learn to set goals for themselves. This is certainly not a new idea. Lots of teachers for as long as anyone can remember have had their students set goals. I have discussed goals off and on with my class this year, but today was the first time that we sat down and made some very specific goals.

I met with each student one-on-one during our independent literacy work period and asked two questions. First, between now and the end of the school year in May, how many books would you like to read? Second, what is one thing you would like to personally accomplish during the month of October? I wrote the goals down and will be reviewing them with students regularly.

I have to admit I was kind of surprised by the reading goals. Some of them are not realistic at all, and I told those students that we would monitor their progress and adjust the goal as needed. Others set goals that I felt were incredibly low. (I know of one teacher who has each student read at least 40 books and another teacher who sets the goal at 50). Here are my students’ reading goals: 20, 205, 30, 50, 15, 12, 100, 15, 500, 80, 50, 11, 75, 20, 30, 100, 10, 20, 100, and 100. (Three students were out of the room and have not set their goals yet.)

The personal goals for October were interesting, as well. Many focused on academic subjects.

  • Get better at multiplication and division.
  • Learn two-digit multiplication.
  • Improve spelling.
  • Learn about wolves.
  • Improve handwriting. (Two students said this one.)
  • Learn more about different animals.
  • Learn fractions.
  • Improve writing. (Two students said this one, too.)
  • Write more stories.
  • Learn division.
  • Pronounce words better, write more clearly.
  • Be a positive leader.
  • Read more.
  • Not talk during class.
  • Finish writing a story.
  • Master multiplication facts.
  • Work on rounding numbers.

I appreciate having a list like this because it allows me to focus what I am doing and helps me have a better idea of the thing that are important to my students. We will still be following the curriculum plans I have, of course, but I will make a concerted effort to tie our classroom activities to these different goals. (Incidentally, my own personal goal is to read 5 books a month this year, which means between now and the end of May I will have read at least 40 books.)

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