New Year Goal Setting with Your Students

Dana GoodierBlog, Lead Better, Reflect Better


  • The beginning of the new semester is the perfect time to set goals.
  • Goals could be based on academics or social-emotional areas.
  • Help students hold themselves accountable for their goals.

The start of a new year and a new semester is a great time to work with students on revising their yearly goals and looking at areas where they can set new goals. Most of you have students for the whole school year. But for some secondary teachers, you may have semester-long classes, so you are receiving new students this month. There may also be students arriving who newly moved to your school.

Goals are always great to set. But as often happens, when people set goals, they don't revisit them. Take into account the intentionality to set aside time to revisit students' goals with them individually. Click To Tweet

Academic Goals

What type of goals should you work on with your students? The answer depends on what the context of your class is and also the school culture. For example, if you teach English/writing/literacy, you may want to have students set goals based on achieving a higher level of writing. This could be first graders using a capital letter at the beginning and a period at the end of each sentence (my first-grade son has this as a goal). In high school, you may ask your students to set goals around literary analysis and writing for various audiences and for a variety of purposes.  A way to give your students ideas on what to write this semester’s goals on is to project the subject-area standards. There are certainly new concepts that will be introduced this semester. Have students write goals around these concepts based on their current and background knowledge.

Social-Emotional Goals

Social-emotional goals for your students could be around the daily schedule and how they interact with their peers and their teachers. Goals could also be based on study habits or goals around students they’d like to get to know this semester. In addition, the goals could be to become more involved in clubs and extra-curricular activities.

Reconnecting and Resetting

Why not start the semester out thinking about ways you can reconnect with your students after the break? You may start a new semester right after you return from break. For some, the spring semester may not start until the third week of January. Whenever you get a chance to reset, take a few days to build relationships with your students.

Your Best Year Ever

If you’re familiar with Michael Hyatt and Co’s Your Best Year Ever, you know about making 12 smarter goals for the year—broken up into 3 goals each quarter. You could use this formula as a way to divide a set number of students’ goals into the number of remaining months you have this school year. Hyatt’s method uses breaking goals into these categories: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical, marital, parental, social, vocational, avocational, and financial. However, you can use some of the categories that apply to your students and guide them to set their goals in those smarter categories.

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Be Intentional

Goals are always great to set. But as often happens, when people set goals, they don’t revisit them. Take into account the intentionality to set aside time to revisit students’ goals with them individually when you have your bi-weekly or monthly conversations with them.

Here’s to a great 2022 and the hope this year will be better than the last two. Your year is what you make it. You can encourage your students that their goals are within reach because it requires determination and grit. Tweet me at @danagoodier and use the hashtags #studentgoals #TBBlogger with some ways you’ve worked with your students to set their goals this January!

About Dana Goodier

Dr. Dana Goodier has 20 years of experience in education. She has taught World Languages and English and worked as a middle school administrator. She completed her doctorate degree (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership early 2020. For her dissertation, she researched reasons parents were opting their students out of high-stakes testing at middle schools and how that affected the district accreditation rating. She often speaks at conferences, providing educators with techniques to minimize off-task behavior and to increase time on task. She is the host of the “Out of the Trenches” podcast, which features educators who share their stories of resiliency. Follow her on Twitter @danagoodier and visit her website at: