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3 Effective Examples of Student SMART Goals To Begin The New Year

Examples of Student SMART Goals

Welcome to the New Year! It's that magical time again – a fresh slate, a blank page, a chance to hit the reset button. Are you ready to make this the best year yet?! The perplexing predicament is how can you motivate and guide your students to follow through on becoming better versions of themselves. The answer…AVOID New Year’s Resolutions! 80% of New Year's Resolutions FAIL by February 1st!  As you start this New Year, it's time to switch from failing resolutions to productive SMART goals for students! Learn how to easily encourage a growth mindset and teach goal setting in your classroom, plus find 3 examples of student SMART goals that you can incorporate today!

Goal setting with kids is the perfect way to instill a growth mindset from an early age and develop this empowering lifelong habit. By teaching how to set realistic and achievable goals, you provide students with a way to shift from a fixed, passive attitude to one that is active and engaged!  And who doesn't want that in their classroom? 

There is no better time than a new year to teach kids how to develop a proactive growth mindset using SMART goal setting and achieve their goals. Let’s do this!

Why Goal Setting With Students Is Important

Does this sound familiar to you? Your students see learning as this magical, passive thing that just materializes out of thin air and just happens with no effort or plan. This is a fixed mindset. 

A growth mindset is the opposite; kids see challenges as opportunities to learn and get better. They believe that with effort and practice, they can improve and master new things. Reflection and SMART goal setting are two essential skills that promote and develop a growth mindset as kids mature.

The importance of goal setting with elementary students has been well documented. Some of the significant benefits that the use of goals for students provides:

  • Promoting brain development by recalling situations, emotions, and facts

  • Developing analyzation skills

  • Fostering a growth mindset

  • Encouraging active participation in academic, social, and emotional growth

  • Promoting effort, practice, hard work, persistence, and self-confidence

Teaching SMART Goal Setting 

Step 1: Review and Reflect

Remember when Mater states, “Ain't no need to watch where I'm going. Just need to know where I've been.” While the point of goal setting is to create a path forward, Mater's advice about needing to know where you've been is perfect advice for kids. It is often difficult for kids just to jump in and start setting goals without taking time to reflect on the past. A great first step is to reflect on the previous season, semester, or year. Have them think about what went well and what could be improved.

Once your students have had time to reflect on a time period, you can move them into the brainstorming stage. This is where they consider what they want to improve. It helps to discuss the different types of areas they can develop a growth mindset. The most common areas are:

  • Academic

  • Behavioral

  • Physical

  • Emotional

  • Social

During this stage of goal setting for elementary students, have kids focus on a few areas. It would be overwhelming for them to try and tackle all five, so depending on their age, maybe suggest trying 2 or 3 areas to begin with. Remember, this is just to brainstorm ideas for growth. In the next step, they can narrow down their ideas to a specific one to work on.

Quick Win!

Picture books are a fun and effective way to generate discussion about growth mindset. Head to this list of the 10 Best Picture Books to Teach Students SMART Goal Setting to check out book recommendations as well as ready-to-use discussion questions for each story!


Step 2: SMART Goals For Students Explained

Next, it’s time to start teaching about why goal setting is important and explain what SMART goals are. Take time to guide your students through the idea that "SMART" is an acronym that leads your students through a step-by-step process of creating realistic, achievable goals. Kids will become discouraged if a goal is too involved or unrealistic. 

SMART goals break down the goal-setting process into easy, manageable pieces that provide a scaffold to success! Grab this poster (part of a free SMART Goal Setting Kit) which is a perfect resource to introduce SMART goals for students. Be sure to walk through examples of student SMART goals so they clearly understand what is needed to set themselves up for success!

S - Specific

What do you want to accomplish?

M - Measurable

How will you know when you have reached your goal?

A - Action Plan

What steps will you need to reach your goal?

R - Realistic

Is your goal realistic? Too easy? Too hard?

T - Time Frame

Is this a short-term or long-term goal?

Quick Win!

This interactive SMART Goal Setting Google Slides Set makes teaching SMART goal-setting a seamless and engaging process. From introducing growth mindset basics, to providing examples of student SMART goals, and crafting and tracking SMART goals, this resource is your all-in-one time saving solution.


Step 3: Creating SMART Goals

After your students have completed reflection, brainstorming, and understand what SMART goals are, it is time to focus on one goal using the SMART goal method! 

As a start, it might be helpful to create a class goal as an example to work through together before tackling individualized goals. In the beginning, you will assist your students through the process by helping them answer the SMART goal questions. It will take time (and patience) to figure out what "little" steps will assist them in reaching their "big" goal. 

As students become more familiar with the process, they will become more confident and successful in developing, measuring, and achieving their own individualized SMART goals. Repeatedly working through this process will instill a growth mindset that will encourage students to engage in a variety of learning experiences not only in your classroom but throughout their entire life!

3 Examples of Student SMART Goals

SMART Goal Student Example 1 - Academic

Multiplication Goal Setting For Elementary Students

In this example of a student SMART goal, you can get the general idea of how you would use this step-by-step process to create an academic goal to learn x7’s (or any) multiplication facts. This would work as a great whole class SMART goal too!

  • First create a specific and measurable goal. Students will achieve 90% correct on a one-minute x7 timed test of 25 problems in 3 weeks.

  • Next develop an action plan that breaks that goal into smaller steps:

Step 1. Students will practice their x7's flashcards for 3 minutes every day with a neighbor. (Here’s how: set a timer right before/after lunch for 3 minutes and let your students practice.)

Step 2. Students will write, read, and whisper a skip counting number line from 0 to 84 twice a day. (Here’s how: as you transition into your math lesson, take 2 minutes for students to do this at their desk. They get extra practice and you get math prep time!)

Step 3. Students will play an online multiplication game 3 times a week, focusing on x7 facts. (Here’s how: do your students have access to technology outside the classroom? Assign as homework, this the perfect way to sneak in extra practice.)

  • Initially, you will help determine if a goal is realistic. If the goal is too easy or too difficult, assist your students in adjusting it.

  • Finally, set a time frame. Each week, record steps taken, give a one-minute timed test and monitor progress. This is a short-term goal, so at the end of the 3 weeks, students will either accomplish this goal or revisit and adjust the action plan to continue working towards meeting it!

Examples of Student SMART Goals
Student SMART Goal Example

SMART Goal Student Example 2 - Social

Specific - Students will be more confident speaking in front of others by the end of the semester.

Measurable - They will monitor her progress with a weekly checklist of the steps in the action plan.

Action Plan -

  1. A student will raise their hand and speak in class 3 times each day.

  2. A student will talk with someone she doesn't know once a week.

  3. They will try two new group activities (sports, library classes, fine arts, etc.) during the semester.

Realistic - Yes, the goal is realistic for a student to accomplish.

Time Frame - This will be a long-term goal that will last an entire semester. The student will either accomplish her goal or revisit and adjust her action plan and continue working towards meeting their goal!

SMART Goal Student Example 3 - Homework Completion

Specific - Students will complete and return all homework assignments.

Measurable - They will successfully complete all homework assignments for one month.

Action Plan

  1. Students will utilize a planner to track assignments, and due dates. (Here’s how: have students show a buddy, aide, or teacher their completed sheet before they leave school.)

  2. Students will complete homework at night by a certain time and put planner and homework in their backpack. (Here’s how: have students pick a time to have everything done and in their backpack by a certain time each evening. Encourage them to show a parent, sibling, relative, friend, or sitter.)

  3. Students will communicate daily with their teacher and parents to verbally share assignment details and if they were turned in. (Here’s how: create a chart for the student to fill in each day they talk with their teacher and parent.)

Realistic - Yes, the action steps and time frame is reasonable for students.a.

Time Frame - This is a long-term goal that will last for 4 weeks. The students will either accomplish their goal or revisit and adjust the action plan and continue working towards meeting the goal!

Encouraging SMART Success!

In the journey of SMART goal-setting, your support will be vital to the success of your students. Regular check-ins and consistent progress monitoring are essential for their positive journey. 

Take time to leave notes, post positive quotes, and give shout-outs! Offering your encouragement serves as a powerful motivator, propelling your students toward accomplishing their goals and developing a growth mindset-an invaluable life skill!

Are you ready to have your students actively engage

in reaching their SMART Goals?

You've Got This!

Begin your students’ goal setting journey today! Check out these easy to use SMART Goal Setting Resources.

Beginning The New Year with 3rd-8th grade students?

Encourage student goal setting and promote a growth mindset by guiding your students through this 5 lesson New Year Reflection & SMART Goal Setting Mini-Unit.

Smart Goal Setting Elementary 3-8 Mini-Unit

This resource will:

  • Teach them how to reflect on the previous year

  • Explain what SMART goals include

  • Provide examples of student SMART goals

  • Guide them through goal-setting activities that will allow them to develop, measure, and ACHIEVE their own individualized SMART goals!

Working with Pre-K-3rd graders?

Looking for a FUN & EASY print-and-go New Year's project? "My New Year" PreK-3rd Grade Tab Book is the perfect activity to introduce goal setting for younger elementary students! Guide them through reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the upcoming New Year!

SMART Goal Setting Elementary K-3 Tab Book

This printable project:

  • Contains a simple 6-page seasonal tab book for younger elementary students to complete.

  • Have students reflect on 3 of their favorite things from the previous year (people, places, and memories).

  • Creates 3 goals for students (for school, home, and personal) for the upcoming year.

  • Customizable--choose from 4 printable page options. Easily accommodate your students' writing abilities (coloring, drawing, tracing, and writing pages included).


Lessons Learned x2 

 Sharing encouragement, practical knowledge, resources, and advice to help you create an educational journey that supports your students!

-Sacha & Wendy

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