The New Year is a time for reflection, gratitude and the promise of what’s to come. In recent years, there has been a bit of a shift in mindset away from the “New Year’s Resolutions” of days gone by as it can be seen as setting us up for failure and disappointment if we don’t stick to those resolutions. (Hello new gym membership? I see you!)
Conversely, the current thinking tends to put more of a positive emphasis on goals that you can set – and set yourself up for success in achieving them. This can be done by keeping the focus on adding new, healthy behaviors in small, manageable changes that can be maintained over time. And just as in your personal life, this can work wonders in your classroom and for your students.
New Year’s Goals for the Classroom
When we think about the classroom, there are already many pressures that students face – at school, at home and out in the world – so we want to talk about goals in a way that makes them appreciate their strengths and feel good about what school means to them. By crafting goals that are attainable for all, we can foster a positive experience for students individually and the classroom benefits as a whole. Here are three of our favorite classroom goals to set for the New Year, as well as some rewards and incentive ideas to reach them:
1. Focus on Learning, Not Just Grades and Test Scores
This can be easier said than done, since reacting to what grade a student got or how they scored on the most recent test is a natural reaction for kids, teachers and parents. However, when we look at the bigger picture and have students ask themselves, “ok, but what did I learn from this?,” then that is where true progress is measured.
To encourage the mentality that they are more than just a grade or a test score, reinforce the opportunity for them to explore an observation they made about the material or something that really stuck with them from the lesson. You can hand out memo pads to students for them to write down key points and then have a meaningful class discussion about it, thus allowing everyone to truly shine.
2. Just One Thing
A favorite amongst goal-setters of all sorts, this idea makes a goal feel more realistic to achieve by focusing on starting, stopping or changing “just one thing” for a designated period of time. For example, in the classroom, if you have struggled with students turning in their work on time, or perhaps not at all, the class could set a goal for every student to turn in their homework for the entire week. Because it’s only for a week, the goal feels do-able for everyone, and over time, small, incremental changes can add up to lasting habits.
As an incentive for all students to actively participate in the goal, let them know a fun afternoon awaits at the end of the week with a movie, popcorn and snacks. Have them pass around a “contract” of sorts for everyone to sign, agreeing to the conditions. Then, at the end of the week, chose a heartwarming movie such as “Horton Hears a Who!” and as an added reward, surprise them with some special themed trinkets for them to take home.
3. Kindness Counts
If there’s one thing we can never have too much of, it’s kindness. As it’s sometimes said, we should sprinkle that stuff on everything! And in a school environment, where kids are often faced with challenges big and small, students can use all the kindness they can get.
Incorporating kindness into a goal for your classroom can come in many forms: use it in math lessons to show how kindness counts and all the ways it adds up; mix up your spelling lessons using words that relate to kindness or synonyms for it; ask students to write an essay about kindness, what it means to them or examples of it they’ve seen in action; and add books about kindness into your reading lessons. As an incentive for students to remember that every act of kindness counts, let them know they can pick out a prize from the classroom treasure box if you “catch them in the act.”
Find Inspiration for Classroom Goals
With some planning and consideration for what you envision for your classroom in the New Year, you and your students are sure to achieve all that you set your minds to. Shop GEDDES and find inspiration for helping achieve your classroom goals for the New Year and beyond, as well as plenty of rewards and incentive ideas to reach them. Contact us today or request a school supply catalog and learn more about all the options from Raymond Geddes.