Goals, Habits & Growth

Pick a goal, write it down and commit to it.

Having a goal is part of the learning process, right? It is embedded in our idea of supporting growth, evaluating achievement and encouraging reflection. We need to articulate where we are headed, develop SMART goals and then work towards these with criteria to assess how, and determine when, we achieve our goals. These are all common practices in classrooms to support learners in their growth and development.

The practice of setting goals actively involves learners in connecting their own personal vision to their learning and makes reflection practices purposeful and meaningful to feed forward into their future growth. It helps build connections and encourages ownership and active engagement. Goal-setting also supports identity building and can help build confidence as well as provide learners with opportunities to actively apply and authentically reflect on their self-management skills.

I have recently been working with 5th graders on this process of goal-setting, defining simple goals and figuring out how to work towards achieving them as part of the Second Step social emotional learning curriculum. It has been an interesting process to hear their perspectives on setting goals and how they feel about these. Some learners are inherently driven to work towards their chosen goal, others recognise they might need to embed in some motivators and rewards to help them along the way. Some aim big, others go for small steps and then realise that perhaps they could stretch themselves further than they think.

In parallel to these sessions, I started listening to the book, Atomic Habits by James Clear and it sparked me into thinking how to go about infusing our learning about goal setting in Grade 5 with actually exploring our habits to help us get there; step by step.

Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.

James Clear, Atomic Habits

It has made me really think about the impact habits have on our lives. Given this, I have been wondering how to shift the conversation with Grade 5 learners to explore our habits. How can we initiate some opportunities for learners to reflect upon their habits and explore how these can propel or hinder us into reaching our goals. There are many resources and ideas out there connected to goal setting with students, here are some I have created and collated specifically to connect goal-setting to habits.

Exploring Goals, Habits, and Growth – This resource invites students to tune into what these different terms mean and look like and investigate their own habits!