Monthly Mentor

Matthew Neylon (July)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Matthew is a graduate of the 2017 NAEA School for Art Leaders and cofounder of CONNECT, an organization that connects art teachers from independent schools around Atlanta with resources and relationships to excel and thrive. He has presented to hundreds of educators and artists annually, on various topics including wellness through the arts, trauma-informed arts education, storytelling, leadership, STEAM/art integration, and curriculum design. Click "GO" to read his full bio.



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« Modeling Goal Setting and Perseverance | Main | Experimenting with Goal Setting Strategies »

January 07, 2020

The Benefits of Student-Driven Goal Setting

By Le Ann Hinkle

The “Walk-Through Observation” is a tool, familiar to most educators.  This past school year, I started participating in a district pilot where pre-scheduled walk-throughs are focused on recognizing the components of personalized learning within content specific learning environments. 

My first walk-thorough was scheduled during my second graders’ weaving unit.  Knowing that student-driven goal setting is a primary factor in personalized learning, I needed to address embedding a goal setting component. I thought about the process of weaving and the objectives of this unit.  I created a “goal setting form” with three, predetermined goals that students could identify within their own process and recognize when they met their goal.  

As I was working to develop this tool, I could not really envision how my students would benefit. However, when I introduced the goal setting sheet, there was no learning curve.  They immediately understood what was being asked and were energized about setting their goals. I checked to make sure each student had set their goal. When necessary, I had a quick conversation to discuss if the goal was appropriate based on where that student was in their progress.  While they were working,  they kept talking about their goals.  “I have done five rows, I only have to do five more.” “What happens if I meet my goal?” “We are both working to add beads, can we work together?”  The identifying and setting of a personal goal made students more invested in their work.  At the end of class, if they met the goal, they gave themselves a smiley face.

Student Weaving Goal Setting Form

This simple tool became the vehicle for a significant paradigm shift.  The goal setting process generated an intrinsic reward for my young learners.  Until that first class, I had not really understood how powerful student-driven goal setting could be. I redesigned this unit to better meet my students’ needs. This year, I noticed that by incorporating more options for student choice and flexibility there has been an increase in student engagement and achievement. 

The walk-through observation motivated me to reexamine how I was using student-driven goal-setting. Now, I build on this strategy in other lessons, looking for opportunities to embed goal-setting with all my students.

Connect with me on Twitter @hinkleart or email-

Download the Weaving Goal Setting Form



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