A new school year is a fresh start! Each year upward on the education ladder is an important step on the path to your long-term education goals. Each year you are in education the teachers vary and the subject matter varies. So doing what you have always done to succeed in the coming year may not help you accomplish what you are working toward.
First, let’s set some goals to mark your steps along the way. Setting goals allows you to focus your energy on what is important. Goals motivate us to develop good habits. Look at your course schedule. Which class is going to demand the most from you? Got it? Now let’s make a plan.
Thinking back to last year, what were the most challenging classes? What strategies worked for you last year when faced with those demands? Make a list of strategies you know you will need to implement to achieve the best results.
Let’s take an example of advanced science courses. How many hours a week will you need to set aside for lab work? Should you make a commitment to participate in a study group? If that has worked for you in the past, plan to join a group this year.
How will you stick to it? Goals are often like New Year’s Resolutions: we start out strong and then slowly our resolve fades away.
Here are some guidelines from expert Dr. Maggie Wray:
Choose a goal that really matters to you. Write down three reasons why achieving this goal is very important to you.
Make it big enough to inspire you, but it needs to be achievable.
Create a goal statement in the positive. “I will apply myself in my writing classes and score a B or higher on my essay writing.”
Is the goal within your control? List for yourself the steps it takes for you to create a well-written essay. Do you have the time and skills to achieve this goal? If so, go for it!
How will you know you are on track? Write the goal down. Write the steps you will take daily and weekly to strengthen those writing skills just as you would a gym workout plan. Pick a day of the week to assess your progress. Be honest with yourself. How’d it go this week? Need to put forth more effort next week? Just as importantly, if things went well, celebrate! Your brain responds to your positive feedback just like your muscles respond to exercise.
I encourage you to hold on to your dreams, focus on your goals, and make this your best school year ever!
Goal Setting Resources:
Ellen Mooney is a retired principal and teacher with more than 45 years of experience in K-12 education.