New Year, New Goals

Welcome 2022! It’s hard to believe that it’s already halfway through 2022. For me, the start of a new year always feels like a fresh start and a time to evaluate what is working well in my teaching (and, the rest of my life) and to consider what new goals I would like to work towards during the next 365 days. Before jumping back into the curriculum, take some time to work with students on reflecting on what they have learned since the beginning of the school year, and help them make decisions about what they want to work towards in the new year. It is important for students to see how far they have come and make decisions about how they want to grow and progress.

I was surprised that my daughters, who are still rather young, enjoyed setting new goals when they returned to school. My older daughter was so excited to hear about her teacher’s goals for the new year and was surprised when her teacher had a goal for her teaching and also a personal goal for outside of school. My daughter’s reaction was a good reminder that sharing goals with students is powerful and gives them a view of the types of changes or tweaks that they can make to their daily lives. 

Reflecting on the Previous Year

Before setting new goals, I like to learn about what the students have learned so far. Invite the students to look through their reading and writing work so that they remember what they completed before the new year. Then, ask the student to make a list of the “Top 5 Things Learned in 2021.” I ask students to include at least one item about what they learned about themselves as readers and one item that they learned about themselves as writers. For the remaining items, students can then write about what they learned in other areas of their lives either in or outside of school. It’s fun to see what the kids have learned and what they are proud of themselves for learning. This can also help you as a teacher connect the students’ outside lives and accomplishments to the official work of the curriculum. I like to have the student write this list out and I keep a copy of it to show them at the end of the year.

Setting Goals for the New Year

When setting goals for the new year with students, keep it simple – less is more! You do not want to overwhelm the students and then have them frustrated when they struggle to keep the goal that they set. I like to have the students set one goal for their reading – something that they want to work on or reach for. For example, I taught students who wanted to work towards reading popular book series – such as The Hunger Games or Harry Potter. I also like to have the students set a goal for their writing – again, something to work on or reach for. This can be remembering to edit writing before submitting it or pushing and expanding on your writing to add details. I also like to have the students set a goal or a couple of goals for other areas of their life. When I taught 5th grade, I had many hockey playing boys in my class and many of them set new year’s goals for their hockey playing! This was fun to check-in on and hear about throughout the rest of the school year. 

Get Parents Involved

Parents like to be involved and learn about what their children are doing in school, but sometimes they do not know how to best support their children with their school work at home. While fun, setting goals can be challenging and they can be hard to keep. One idea to help students keep or monitor the goals they set is to get the parents involved! Send the child’s goals home to the parent and encourage parents to talk to their children about their goals and how they can work towards them. Some questions that the parents can ask their child include:

  • Tell me about the goals you set this year. 
  • Do you have a plan to work towards these goals?
  • How can I help you with your goals? 
  • What do you need to do in order to reach these goals? 

You can also encourage parents to check-in with their child a few times a month to see how they are doing with working towards their goals and what changes may need to be made in order to support them. 

Reaching goals is a group effort and it’s important to teach children that they do not have to do the work all alone in order to make changes to their reading, writing, and other interests. Since it’s almost half-way through the month of January, now might be a great time to have students take a look at the goals they set for themselves and assess their progress. 

Here’s to a wonderful 2022!

*Photo: My 6-year old’s goal for her 2022 reading!