With the arrival of mid-year school reports, the winter holidays offer students the opportunity for critical reﬂection; a chance to look back on the ﬁrst half of the school year. It is a time to celebrate what is going well as well as identify areas where improvements can be made. Reﬂection is a powerful process for all students to undertake as it helps them to understand their own strengths and weaknesses in order to support their continuous learning and personal development.
Complementary to the process of reflecting is the identification of goals moving forward. As the title suggests, not having goals is like shooting at a target with a blind fold on – worse still, it can be never even taking aim. For our students to make the most of their mid-year report, they should be encouraged to reflect critically on their performance, to consider the accompanying comments and advice provided by teachers, and then spend some time setting goals towards which they will apply themselves in this second semester.
Indeed, this process is something we can all benefit from undertaking. It might be fair to say that we spend more time planning a party, reading the paper or making a Christmas list than we do in planning our lives. So, here are a few tips to assist in goal setting:
1. Goals must be speciﬁc. - For students, this may be identifying a specific grade they plan to achieve in their next assessment task. Remember if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.
2. Don’t be afraid to set BIG goals. - Little goals are not motivating, and too often we short change ourselves and look for only what we think we can easily achieve.
3. Write the goals down using the PPP format. - For goal statements to be most effective, they should be Personal (using ‘I am’ or ‘I have’), written in the Present tense (or your mind will keep it in the future) and be Positive (stating what you want, not what you want to avoid). ‘I have mastered the 7 times tables.’ is a much stronger goal than ‘I won’t make so many mistakes.’
4. Imagine your success - As you write the goals down, mentally visualise them as already achieved. Your brain prefers to work in pictures so this will give you a mental picture to work with.
5. Short, medium and long term goals - This is just as important for adults as it is for students, as we all benefit from the chance to recognise and celebrate our achievements within a set period of time. However, longer term goals are also important as it reminds of where we are going – in school and in life.
Once goals have been identified and recorded, you may be surprised at the flush of energy that follows. Johann von Goethe (1749-1832) described this eloquently in one of his writings:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. The moment one deﬁnitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.
Begin it now.