Tips for Setting Goals with Students

Read Time:  min |  Counseling

Tips for Setting Goals with Students

As counselors, we are constantly trying to help students make progress academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. We know how necessary it is to use effective techniques to help students set goals, break them into manageable tasks, and track those goals. Here are a few tips and resources that may be helpful as we begin 2017.

Social Emotional Workshop on TPTI focus on making things visual and concrete. We create a goal board, either in their counseling notebook or on the wall. We write down the big goal and start brainstorming all the steps we need to get there and the help will need to achieve those. – Laura, Social Emotional Workshop



Counselor KeriWhen working with students on goal setting, I always follow SMART goal format but also have students set “mini deadlines” for smaller increments and identify supportive people who can help them stay on track and tackle roadblocks. – Counselor Keri

SMART Goals: New Years Resolutions

I’ve used a “Reach for the Stars” activity I saw on Pinterest to create a bulletin board. – Laurie Mendoza/School Counseling Files

Goals Bulletin Board
click image for more detail

EduKate & InspireI like to help students celebrate the small steps they are taking to reach their goals. During my goal setting lessons, I help students break larger goals into smaller parts. We look for small steps that are easy to accomplish, which helps motivate students to keep moving toward their ultimate goal. – Kate from EduKate & Inspire (Also, check out Kate’s tips for welcoming students arriving mid-year)

The Counseling TeacherIt is important to show students how to properly use an agenda pad or daily calendar. Have them use that calendar to write down weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly goals based on their needs. So many students skip this important tool because they think they can “remember” everything. Show students your own planner and how you use it. I often tell my students that if I don’t write it down, it may or may not get done. It’s okay to need a reminder. We aren’t super human. Showing students how to plan properly is key to better organization and goal setting. – Brandy, The Counseling Teacher

Mindful Resolutions Freebie
Mindful Resolutions FREEBIE


Counselor UpKids have no idea how to set a goal. We assume that they do because we do (sometimes). I like to work with kids to create a SMART goal. It takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it when you see the big aha! – Counselor Up

Self Discipline and Goal Setting
Self Discipline and Goal Setting

Bilingual LearnerGuide your student to choose a goal that is important to them (not just to the adults in their life), and that is attainable. It is best to use the SMART goal formula- specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely- to help students create a goal they are most likely to have success with. Finally, baby steps- just one goal at a time! – Stephanie Lerner – Bilingual Learner

Get Your Goal On




CounselorChelseyMy favorite thing to remember when working on goal setting with students is to make sure they select their goal. It can be so easy to tell students what WE or the teachers want them to focus on, but they are much more willing and able to make progress if they choose the goal! – CounselorChelsey

How do you approach goal setting with students? What are your favorite resources?

Student Goal Setting