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Healthy Data Practices Can Lead to Student-Driven Goal Setting

By Brandy Burns Hadfield

One of the many impacts of the pandemic on school aged children has been the lack of in-person instruction. This has caused our children to fall behind academically. In order to best meet the needs of all students the use of personalized learning has become increasingly more important.

Teachers must use data to identify students' individual needs and then provide high quality instruction to address them. This calls for teachers to continually assess (in all different ways) and observe their students to measure their progress. This will allow teachers to determine if instruction is working or if they need to change things up.

As teachers move along the continuum of personalized learning it becomes important to get students and families on board. One way to engage students and their families is through healthy goal setting. Setting goals with students helps them choose a focus area and help guide them towards working on a small obtainable goal. By assisting students in setting small goals and revisiting these goals regularly a teacher is able to help students improve their confidence and build up their self esteem. This happens all the while they are bridging the gaps in their learning.

Research states that one of the most accurate predictors of academic achievement is the encouragement of learning at home and parental involvement in a child's education - which we all know is true! One positive way to promote this interaction between school and home is to get parents involved in the child's goal setting.

One method I have used to foster this interaction is having my students write monthly letters to their guardians, identifying the goals of the month. Students also identify ways in which their guardians can help them achieve their goals, then they suggest ways that teacher may help them in the classroom.

Students end their letter with a long term goal to get them to begin thinking about their future educational dreams! With the new year, I am stepping this up a notch and 'secretly' sending home a letter framework for parents to fill out and return to students to tell them how proud they are of them!

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