Goal Setting in the Classroom

Goal Setting in the Classroom

I’ve been working hard to develop a growth mindset culture in my classroom. We’ve been practicing persistence and effort. Part of this practice means looking back at where we’ve been, then looking ahead at where we’re going with our learning.

Can goal setting really be achieved with five-year-olds? Absolutely!

**Read about how I teach Growth Mindset in the Classroom**

When I first started teaching I would plan big goal setting moments, usually around conference time. Students would look through all their work and choose goals to focus on, then share them with their families. This is still something I do, but I find it works SO much better when I embed mini goal setting moments within everyday learning. It makes goal setting a lot more familiar for students when they do it regularly. Plus, reflecting on their learning and planning for improvement really does help students learning move forward.

During a recent writing lesson, I showed students an anonymous sample of student writing (actually borrowed from the class next door). We looked at it together and students loved pulling it apart and pointing out the errors. There was no risk of failure as they were looking at an anonymous sample.

Students shared their thinking about what the writer had done well and then suggested a goal: eg. “I think they are good at remembering their full stops but they need to get better at remembering finger spaces”.

Then it was my turn to model the practice of writing, reflecting and goal setting. I wrote a mini recount of my weekend on the board and used the same sentence structure to reflect and set a goal: “I think I’m good at writing sight words and I’d like to get better at remembering to use capital letters at the beginning of a sentence”.

This is where one of my favourite classroom tools came in very handy: Seesaw! I took a photo of my writing using the Seesaw app (it’s free!), then used the microphone tool to record myself reflecting on my writing. I replayed the recording to check it, modeling good portfolio practice, then uploaded it.

The students then wrote their own recounts and used Seesaw to reflect on their writing. This made the reflection and goal setting process SO easy! Pre-Seesaw I would have students write their goals on a post-it note and put it on their writing page … which is a HUGE task for five-year-old students to do on top of writing a recount in the first place.

Here are a few examples of their first attempt at goal setting during writing lessons using Seesaw:Goal Setting with Young Children

Goal Setting with Young Children


We will continue to use this goal setting practice with our writing and other learning opportunities. I’ll let you know how it goes!

How do you support your students to set learning goals? 

Growth Mindset in the Classroom

Growth Mindset in the Classroom - Octavia and Vicky

Growth mindset has gained a LOT of attention in education. Our Partnership has chosen to invest in growth mindset PD for all staff (six schools) with continued support to learn and grow together. I feel pretty lucky to have these opportunities!

Recently we met in year level groups at one school, where I had the chance to share with and hear from other early years teachers about supporting growth mindset in the classroom. I love visiting other teachers and hearing their ideas!

What does growth mindset look like in the classroom? 

I’m no expert! But in my own words, growth mindset is about developing a school and community culture of perseverance and risk-taking. It’s teaching children strategies to help them persist, even when things are difficult. Growth mindset focuses on effort more than achievement. Who wouldn’t want that for their students?

If you’re interested in getting deep into it, I highly recommend Carol Dweck’s book ‘Mindset‘. I listened to the audiobook, it was very easy to take in while I was pottering about washing dishes or cooking dinner. I do love multi-tasking :)

Unfortunately, growth mindset is not a quick fix and won’t be  easily developed and supported by stand-alone lessons or a few posters on the wall. Sorry! For a growth mindset culture to really flourish and thrive, teachers need to embed growth mindset language into their practice while also walking the talk.

Ideas for  building a growth mindset culture in your classroom

  • role model making mistakes or getting stuck, then keeping on trying. I love hamming up the drama in these moments
  • read picture books to encourage a growth mindset (see below for ideas)
  • use growth mindset songs for brain breaks (our school recently chose songs with growth mindset focussed lyrics for dance performances)
  • when celebrating local heroes (school sport players and award winners) be sure to talk about how they got there and the effort and persistence they put in
  • when conferencing students on their reading, writing or problem-solving discuss the strategies they’re using well and the effort they’ve put in, as well as teaching strategies for how to move learning forward
  • help students set goals for their learning and teach them how to review their effort and achievement regularly

Find more ideas on my Growth Mindset Pinterest Board

There are some fantastic picture books for promoting growth mindset, here are a few curated lists:

Does your school promote a growth mindset culture? 

Creative Thinking for Intellectual Stretch

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This week our partnership (six primary schools and a high school) had a professional development day together, learning about stretching children’s thinking and promoting creative problem solving skills. My brain was s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d after the day! I spent the afternoon in an early years session focussed on supporting children’s executive function skills, which I’ll share more about in another post. Today I’m focussing on creative thinking for intellectual stretch. Continue reading “Creative Thinking for Intellectual Stretch”