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By Angela Padrón

2016 is only a few days away, and as always people will be coming up with resolutions to achieve in the new year. Setting goals for yourself is a great way to stay organized and focused on your teaching responsibilities. However, it’s a good exercise for students as well.

Resolutions and goals should be ones that address things you want to achieve, things that you will work hard to commit to doing or changing. They should be attainable and not so far out of reach that the process in which to get there becomes frustrating. For students, this is very important because they need to feel a sense of accomplishment in order to build self-esteem and confidence. So starting out with smaller goals that lead to bigger ones can prove to be less stressful and less overwhelming.

Another option is to focus on only one resolution at a time rather than setting multiple goals. This way, students can concentrate all their efforts on achieving one goal before moving onto another. For example, a student who is struggling with multiplication may formulate a resolution to know all his times tables by a certain date. Instead of focusing on all the times tables, that student could set a goal to know the two times tables, then the threes, and so forth, working on one set at a time in order to master it before moving onto the next.

Resolutions also need to be reasonable. Students should not create goals that are so far beyond their current skill level that they would not realistically be attainable. However, students should be encouraged to think of what they want to achieve beyond their current skill level in order to grow further. They should also be reminded to ask for help when needed, from classmates, teachers, and family members.

A good way to formulate resolutions with your students is to have them come up with ideas in groups. Talking about their ideas can help them clarify their goals and set realistic expectations. Teachers can also conduct conferences individually or in small groups to brainstorm the types of resolutions to set. These goals can be determined by academic performance on classwork or test scores, either by evaluating classroom or district/state assessments. Goals can also be created based on behavior. A chart can be posted in the room that list the different goals to achieve, and as students move toward reaching their goals, a sticker or other marking can be added to the chart so students can also monitor a visual tracker of their progress.

So as we say goodbye to 2015, have students reflect on their work done so far throughout the year and think about ways to grow in the new year. By setting new goals to achieve, 2016 might be their best year yet!

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