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Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Power of Student-Selected Behavior Goals



Deciding to have each of the kids in my class choose their own behavior goal has been a game changer for me.  Game. Changer.  

We have a token system, where kids can earn classroom "currency."  It works well, but something was missing. My class can earn "brownie points" as a group and earn rewards as a whole class.  They love it.  But, again, something was missing.  There were still a handful of students who made me want to bang my head against the wall! (We've all been there, right?)

I knew that for us to have a great classroom community, I needed this student to stop blurting out, that one to keep track of his belongings, this one to ask for help, and that one to share his ideas with his classmates more, etc.   So I made a list of all the behaviors that I wanted to see more of.  I was thinking off the kids in my class as I wrote my list - both the ones with great behavior and the ones are more disruptive.

I made goal sheets for each behavior on my list, phrased as an "I can..." statement.  There are 10 boxes on each, and when students fill up the boxes for showing the positive behavior, they'd get a reward coupon.  The next morning, I printed them off, cut them up, grabbed some stickers, and crossed my fingers that this plan would work. 



At our Morning Meeting, we talked about Growth Mindset and Goal Setting, topics we've covered a lot this year.  I explained that I wanted them to think about a behavior they could get better at, and then I read all the goal choices to them.  The next part is when I had to take a leap of faith - letting them pick their own goals to work on. 

And you know what, I wasn't disappointed.  All but one student picked the exact goal I would have picked for them.  I feel proud that we'd gotten to a point where they are able to be reflective about their strengths and weaknesses.  With that one student, I asked, "Are you sure you don't want to pick 'I can finish my work.'?"  His response was, "You let everyone else pick their goal, why can't I pick mine?" Touche.  

It's been working really well.  It's amazing how much it helps for each student to have ONE behavior to really focus on. And they are bought in since they were able to choose what they need to work on. One girl asked me to add "I can ignore distractions" because she told me she found herself paying too much attention to what was going on around the room.  I loved that she was being so reflective and quickly added it to our goals.

You can click on the picture above to purchase my set of goal trackers.

Tips for using the Goals:
  • I use stickers - the ones from the Dollar Tree or Target Dollar Spot fit perfectly - but my teammate uses a stamp, and that works great for her.  Just make sure it's something the kids don't have access to! :)
  •  Keep the extra goal sheets in a place where it's easy for kids to access them to pick new ones.  
  • Pick a designated time for students to trade in their completed sheets for a reward.
I hope these are able to be as helpful to you and your students as they are to me and mine!