So you nod your head. You act like you know all about it. All the while you are inwardly scratching your head, confused out of your mind.
Is this you? Ready for some insider info so that you can finally, actually understand SMART Goals?
SMART Goal class starts…right now!
What are SMART Goals?
SMART goals sprang from the idea that specific goals are more likely to be accomplished than generic goals. It’s the same kind of thinking behind IEP goals and benchmarks.
Like IEPs, SMART goals are very specific, include a plan of action and a timetable. They are also realistic and measurable.
While SMART goals were developed to help individuals and businesses, they work for the classroom, too.
Essentially, all teaching, progress monitoring, and student goal setting should be SMART. Basically, everything needs to be measurable and have an end goal or purpose from the start.
How Teachers Set SMART Goals
It can be challenging to watch your child and see the SMART goal behind the work. Let’s pull back the curtain on my own process.
All of this is based on your child’s present academic levels, the grade level or IEP standards, and a reasonable time frame. The goals are also very specifically measurable, with percentages or grades.
As your child meets each goal, the teacher sets a new one. For “Susie,” the next goal might be the 6-10 multiplication fact families, followed by the 11 and 12 multiplication fact families. As the student accomplishes one thing, you progress to the next harder level.
Not so SMART
Goals and goal setting are a major player in education right now. And there might be a tendency to go overboard with them. Suddenly, there is a SMART goal for every person, everything, and every minute of the day.
Watch out for that.
Parents should be on the lookout for:
- Tons of goals for your child: one goal per subject is ideal for general education students; students with education plans are already working on SMART goals per their IEP, 504 Plan, or Gifted Education Plan
- Very quick deadlines: goals shouldn’t happen in just a few weeks; goals should be able to be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time, like over a quarter or semester
- Simple goals: a SMART goal is not something that is “easy” for your child; goals should be focused on making significant progress according to need or learning standards
Where to look for SMART Goals
Students with education plans often have their SMART goals right on those documents. It’s the goals and benchmark section. All of these should be very specific and have quantitative ways to measure success.
At your next meeting, ask the team to explain your child’s SMART goals to you.
Around the classroom, you will see SMART goals everywhere. Right now, most PreK to 5/6 classrooms have focus walls. These are spaces around the room that share the learning standard the class is working on currently. Often the focus walls on the main whiteboard or on a large bulletin board.
Next time you are in the classroom, look for those signs and the focus wall. If you have questions, ask the teacher to explain her academic goals for the class or your child specifically.
Does your teacher use SMART goals?