How Do You Teach Students To Set Smart Goals?


Goal setting is a very valuable skill that can be taught to students of different levels. If teachers take the time to train students with the skills which are necessary for effective goal setting, this will help them get the right tools required to reach their full potential. As an educator, you need to ensure that the goals that your students have set for themselves are S.M.A.R.T. It means that the goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based. Else, it can be tricky to keep a track of your student’s progress or achievements. Setting S.M.A.R.T goals allows you as an instructor to clarify your concepts, focus on your efforts, manage your time wisely, and grow the possibilities of achieving those targets which you have set out to achieve. How do you teach students to set smart goals?

How Do You Teach Students To Set Smart Goals?


First of all, make your students stand up and go through each alphabet of the acronym S.M.A.R.T. Then have those students sit down who think that their goals meet all the five criteria. You can start with the first letter ‘S’. Ask students one by one if the goal they have set is specific. Also, ask them whether the goal has to be further refined or not and if they understand what they are trying to achieve. You can give examples to them to make them understand this more clearly. For example, becoming a runner can be a goal that is vague but setting a goal to run a mile within 5 mins is a specific one.


Next, move on to the next letter ‘M’ which stands for measurable. You need to tell students that their goals have to be measurable. They should be able to know by some means if they have achieved the goal. They must set certain benchmarks before proceeding with the goal and they need to check whether or not they have hit the desired benchmark. For example, if they are trying to learn a programming language, they need to note down each chapter that they want to study to have full command of the language. They can strikethrough each completed chapter as they progress along and this can help them know how many chapters have they been able to cover so far.


The next letter is ‘A’ which stands for attainable. The goal that can be achieved by applying current abilities and skills can be termed an attainable goal. Let us take the running goal as an example again. If the student does not possess the ability to cover a distance of 1 mile in 10 minutes, improving the mile time cannot be an attainable goal. Let’s say if a student wants to become a professional programmer, this cannot be considered a S.M.A.R.T. goal because that student does not currently possess the ability or skills required to become a professional programmer.


Another letter in the acronym is ‘R’ which stands for relevant. Relevant goals are those goals that are meaningful as well as important. Let’s get back to the running goal again. Students need to improve their mile time by 10 seconds because this is going to help them to get better grades in the gym class. 


The last letter ‘T’ stands for timely. The goal must have time constraints. The open-ended goals do not demand any urgency. They can be completed at any time depending on the mood and choice of the goal-setter. If the goal is timely then it needs to be fulfilled within a deadline. For example, a student is likely to decrease his/her mile time by at least ten or twenty seconds within six months. This sixth-month deadline set by the student will create an urgency to attain the goal in time.

After going through all the letters of the acronym you will notice that everyone needs to rewrite their goal. You can inspire your students to write meaningful goals by reading through motivational quotes of famous persons together as a class. You can also organize the entire goal-setting process by using a goal-setting worksheet. There are many free S.M.A.R.T. goals planning templates available online which include close sentences for students to complete and spaces to record the steps taken by the students to achieve their goals.

Benefits of effective goal setting

Identify different student learning levels

It can be very much beneficial for you as a teacher to have students set SMART goals for themselves. You can use these goals to find out different learning levels and chalk out differentiated learning activities and programs that are prepared specially for your students.

Set clear expectations

If students can set S.M.A.R.T goals for themselves, how they can accomplish a task and what exactly is expected from them for that particular task. It also provides them a direction to progress. They will have something to refer back to in case they get diverted from their goals as the S.M.A.R.T. goals provide verbal both verbal and written information on their expectations.

Keep students focused and engaged

SMART goals can help students keep a track of their progress. They can stay focused while they are learning a particular topic or doing a project. If they can categorize their goals into competent goals followed by a larger goal, they can tick off the progress they are making. As a teacher, How Do You Teach Students To Set Smart Goals? You can help your students by appreciating their efforts as they progress along.


How Do You Teach Students To Set Smart Goals? Setting smart goals help students to become something that they want to be. As a teacher when you are teaching your students how to set goals, you are also helping them develop their self-confidence and self-consciousness, making them aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and enabling them to envisage their possibilities. S.M.A.R.T. goals have a great impact on students’ learning which not only helps them improve their grades but also creates a sense of possibility for them that can help them in their all-around development.