SMART goals are becoming more frequent in schools, and they help students and teachers set a clear plan to achieve goals. Rather than setting generic targets like getting better at Maths, students and teachers can be more specific about them, making it easier to form a plan.
Teachers can set SMART goals for themselves about what they want to achieve with their students, and they can also select individual SMART goals for every student. Making personal goals rather than class-wide plans can help students get the proper support they need to succeed in education.
How to set SMART goals in education
There are five factors to consider when setting SMART goals in education:
- Specific – clearly state what your goal is.
- Measurable – ensure you can measure your success, e.g., with exam scores or feedback.
- Attainable – make sure you set goals that you can realistically achieve.
- Relevant – set goals pertinent to your education.
- Time-based – set a deadline for when you want to have achieved this goal.
You can work with students to help them develop SMART goals in education for them to achieve. Read on to see how you can set SMART goals in education.
Setting specific goals
Setting specific goals will help you make plans for yourself and your students. For example, instead of the student saying, ‘I want to get better at Maths,’ they could say, ‘I want to achieve 75% on my final Maths exam’. This is a much clearer target and helps them and you to set a plan according to their goal.
Here are some things for the student to consider when setting a specific target:
- What do you want to achieve?
- When do you want to achieve it?
- Why do you want to achieve it?
- How are you going to achieve it?
For example, a specific goal would look like this: ’I want to achieve 75% or higher in my final Maths exam in May next year. I want to accomplish this to progress with my goal of becoming an engineer when I leave school. I will achieve my goal by revising more and using practice tests.’
A specific SMART goal is much easier to work towards and achieve, so the more specific you can be, the better.
Measuring the goal
You need to be able to measure the goal. You can measure it quantitatively using numerical grades, e.g., scoring tests out of a certain amount, like out of 100. Or you could do it qualitatively by giving good or bad feedback on work. Quantitative can work better for subjects such as Maths and Science, whereas qualitative may work better for subjects like Art and PE.
Make the goal attainable
This is one of the most important factors to consider when setting SMART goals in education. For example, if one of your students frequently gets 40% or lower on their Maths tests, setting a goal of achieving 100% would be unrealistic. Instead, you could set a goal of achieving 50%, then increase it to 60%, and so on.
You need to ensure that the student’s goal isn’t too hard but manageable. Students need to feel challenged and supported at the same time. Having an attainable goal can help to motivate students to work hard and achieve that goal. On the other hand, if you set an unrealistic goal, they may feel down-heartened and discouraged when they don’t gain it and lose motivation with their work.
Set relevant goals
This might seem obvious, but it is essential. For example, there wouldn’t be any point in setting a goal to achieve a personal best in running 800 meters if the student isn’t participating in 800-meter races.
You also need to ensure each goal is relevant to each student. Every student will have different areas of strengths and weaknesses. For example, if a student were achieving 90% and above on their Maths tests, there wouldn’t be much point in setting a goal of achieving 80% because they have already achieved and exceeded that target. Instead, you can work on areas where they may not be as strong. For example, they could work on increasing their vocabulary within their writing to make their writing better and at a higher standard or level.
Set a deadline for the target
If you don’t have a deadline for the target, your student will have nothing to work towards, and they might not feel as motivated to achieve it.
When you set a deadline, you must ensure it is realistic. For example, you don’t want to target increasing test scores by 40% weekly because that is unrealistic. Instead, you could set the deadline for six months or a year.
You can also set mini goals between when you start the plan and when you want them to achieve the goal. For example, they could work to improve their score by 5% every month, which will make it easier to increase their score by 20% (or whatever their goal is) in 6 months.