Setting Goals in the Music Classroom

Goal-setting activities for the beginning of a new term, semester or year is a great way to have students focus on their learning.

What activities have you planned for that crucial first lesson of the year/semester/term?

Yes, I know we all have to go through procedures and expectations. I call this “the housekeeping,” and I try not to make this too long and tedious. Some of the ways I have covered this in the past are:

  1. Have the expectations/rules displayed in the classroom on posters and talk to them.
  2. Have a discussion which leads the students to create the class rules themselves. This way, they have greater ownership of them.
  3. Create a ‘class expectations contract’ from the discussion with the students. Print off a copy for each student, have them sign and date it and place it in the front of their workbooks.

The activities you choose to do will ultimately depend on your class, i.e. age group, general music class, orchestra/band class or a chorus/vocals class, etc.

Whatever else you choose to do, I believe it is essential to include a goal-setting activity in the first 1-2 lessons.

The Importance of Setting Goals in the Classroom

Setting goals is an essential component of students’ motivation, self-regulation, and achievement in the classroom.

Goals give students a path to follow.

Allowing students to set their own goals can significantly improve how motivated they are to learn. Too often, we set goals for our students without carefully considering what they want to achieve. Allowing them to develop their own goals gives them something they are personally invested in to concentrate on and work towards. The goals have personal meaning to them.

Here are four things students learn from setting their own goals in the classroom:

  1. Hard work – Most students have little impetus to work towards the goals others set for them. However, when they choose their destinations and plan out their journeys, they are far more likely to put in greater effort to achieve their goals.

  2. Self-motivation – As students continue to learn and grow, being able to motivate themselves will be a significant asset. Practising goal-setting now can help them learn how to achieve this self-motivation.

  3. Greater self-satisfaction  It feels good to achieve a goal, especially if it is a goal that you’ve set for yourself and you’ve worked hard to achieve. Once students learn how it feels to achieve a goal, they are much more likely to strive for that feeling again.

  4. More self-confidence – Students haven’t only proved to you that they could reach their goals, they’ve proved it to themselves. They are starting to learn that they are capable of controlling their destiny, i.e. if they set a goal and plan for it, it is achievable. This taste of achievement will help even the most timid student build self-confidence.

How I do this in my classroom………..

1. Begin the lesson with a brief discussion about goals to give students some ideas that will act as a springboard for them to establish their own goals.

Project the following three questions onto the board to get the discussion started:

  1. Name two goals?
  2. List 2-3 steps you will need to take to achieve them?
  3. What are some goals you might have for music class this year?

Keep the discussion snappy – don’t let it drag on!

2. At an appropriate point in the discussion, change the direction to the fact that we don’t always achieve the goals we set for ourselves and ask why they think this might be.

Project image #2:  A goal without a plan is a wish!

So – how do we plan our goals?

3. Project image #3 and discuss SMART goals

S = Specific. Be specific. Describe WHAT you want to achieve, WHERE you will achieve it, WHY you have this goal etc. 

M = Measurable. The goal must be measurable, i.e. HOW many times, HOW long, HOW often etc. 

A = Achievable. The goals must be realistic and achievable if you stick to the plan.

R = Relevant. Does the goal fit your needs, i.e. a goal that will help you? 

T = Timely. Give your goal a definite time period to achieve. You can set a definite day/date, i.e. by the last day of term; I will…..

4. The final step is to issue students’ with the Goal Setting sheet. Students can either complete this in class or take it home and complete it for the next lesson.

Having the students write down their goal/s and how they plan to achieve them takes the goal/s out of the students' heads and makes them REAL!

Place the completed page in the front of their class workbook.

If you would like a copy of the 'Setting Goals' images and class worksheets I use, you can grab your FREE COPY by clicking the image below HERE!


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