Teaching Students About S.M.A.R.T. Goals

We know that when we set goals, it is important to make them S.M.A.R.T. goals. We have learned over the years through trial and error how to set, meet, and even exceed goals. We have all had our fair share of goals that were not met too. When I look back at all of the goals that I did not meet, there are a few common threads. They weren’t specific enough, I didn’t set up habits to help me reach the goals, or I set the bar too high.

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As dance educators, it is important to teach our students how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound. This is the perfect time of year to start talking about setting these goals.

At my studio, we set a S.M.A.R.T. goal for each class at the end of February and work toward that goal as a class for the next 6 weeks. At the end of the 6-week period, the students perform the skill and receive a small prize. We have the students fill out a S.M.A.R.T. goal worksheet to help them learn how to set and work to achieve a goal. Each week, we ask the students what their goal is and if they did the things they said they would do at home to help reach the goal. Continue to work on it in class and review what S.M.A.R.T. goal stand for and have them repeat it back. They need to see and hear it several times before it sinks in.

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It is also a great idea to talk about how they can set goals at home and at school that are S.M.A.R.T. too. I like to help them relate to their personal lives as much as possible to teach this important life skill. Doing this as a class also helps promote teamwork and bonds the students together. We see them working together to help each other and even setting up times to practice outside of the studio together.

Steps to implement S.M.A.R.T. Goals for your students.
1. Set the skill for each class.
a. Make sure it is achievable by the entire class.
2. Sit each class down and talk about what a S.M.A.R.T. the goal is. Give examples of different goals that fit the criteria and ones that don’t.
3. Hand out a S.M.A.R.T. goal worksheet to each student.
4. Tell the class what their goal is and talk to them about what it means to achieve this skill.
5. Teach or drill the skill.

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6. Ask them to tell you what are 3 things they can do to achieve the goal. Have them write in their answers on the sheet. If you have little ones, you will be guiding this conversation and writing on the worksheet for the class.
a. This is where it is always interesting. I find that the students come up with all sorts of big ideas about practicing every day when we talk about it and I have to bring them down to something realistic. When it came to the follow-up the next week, they struggled to do the bare minimum. It is always enlightening to them.
7. Ask them what they need in order to accomplish the goal.
8. Finally, fill out the date that they will reach the goal.
9. Each week spend time working on the skill and reminding them of the steps they agreed to do to achieve the goals.
10. On the 6th week students perform the skill and reward those who achieved it with a small prize. Be sure to take pics and share on social media.

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Pam Simpson is the founder, president, and driving force behind Forte Arts Center, which was established in Morris, Illinois in 1993. In addition to building her business from a small, one room studio to a large, multi-location organization that offers dance, tumbling and cheer programs as well as private music lessons, Pam is a leading force in the realm of small business ownership in the dance and tumbling industries as she travels all over the country speaking to and educating for large organizations such as Rhee Gold Company, Dance Teacher Summit, and More Than Just Great Dancing. When not working on her businesses, Pam enjoys spending time with her family and visiting her daughter, who is a performer at Walt Disney World.

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