New Year’s Resolutions for Students

It’s that time of year again — the new year when many of us set impossible goals or make empty promises to ourselves about “bettering” something in our lives. Do you know there’s a better way to set achievable goals?

When I instruct my students about reflecting and goal setting, I use the popular SMART goals method, an acronym which helps direct us to make goals that are, well, smart. The same directives we use in the classroom to set SMART goals can be easily applied to students’ papers about New Year’s resolutions, a short writing task I give my students on the first day back from winter break. I, too, will use the SMART goals method to set and reach my own personal New Year’s resolutions this year. But how, exactly, can we weave SMART goals into resolutions for students?

Let’s take a look!

SMART

The acronym varies slightly among teachers and educational resources, but the basic expectations of SMART goals are seen below:

Specific (simple, straightforward)

Measurable (meaningful, monitored)

Achievable (attainable, agreed upon)

Relevant (reasonable/realistic, results-oriented)

Timely (trackable, tangible)

Specific, Simple, Straightforward

Much like setting SMART goals, students’ New Year’s resolutions should be specific or straightforward, meaning “Do better in school” would not make the cut. We must prompt students to specify exactly what they hope to change or achieve. Ask questions like, “In which class or classes do you want to see improvement?” “What grade do you consider to be ‘better’?”

Measurable, Meaningful, Monitored

A measurable or monitored resolution should be quantifiable; it must involve progress which can be tracked. Ask students how they plan to track or measure the progress, and how often they should check-in, evaluate, or adjust based on the measured progress. For instance, if a resolution is to improve their timed mile run by dropping 30 seconds, encourage them to keep time logs, workout schedules, and other exact measures of their progress.

Achievable, Attainable, Agreed Upon

An achievable resolution is one within the realm of reality — and students need to be aware of this fact. Resolutions must be attainable and realistic. While we teachers should not dash dreams or cut anyone short of their highest potential, we also need to help students realize what is and is not achievable in the manner or timeline they have allotted. If a student’s resolution or goal is to win the state’s 1st place mile, but they have never run any sort of distance race, their aim is set much too high. This is not to say they cannot one day reach that level, but this resolution should detail smaller steps in an effort to reach that point in the future.

Depending on a student’s age, the achievable factor should be agreed upon, meaning a parent or other adult figure is “in” on the accountability of the resolution. Relevant resolutions should be goals that matter on a larger scale. If a student wants to focus on family time, a resolution might be to keep the cell phone off and away during meals, gatherings, and other family activities. This goal is certainly achievable; there are no outside factors which could disrupt the goal. The student simply has to be mindful of his or her presence during family time. It is relevant because the cell phone is a likely distractor during conversations and meals.

Timely, Trackable, Tangible

Finally, a timely resolution is one that has a definitive starting point and incremental check-ins. When writing a New Year’s resolution, students should ask themselves, “What can I do today to work towards this? What can I do two weeks from now? Two months from now? What would this resolution look like in 6 months?” Working towards the resolution or goal should start right away — as we all know, procrastination is a surefire way to derail our progress.

Celebrate Giving Tuesday and Why You Don’t Want to Miss It

The Holidays are always a time of reflection and self-evaluation. It’s the time of year where many celebrate family and good fortune, and for others, its the amplification of losses and desires unmet. Over the years, Thanksgiving has become the symbol for early Christmas shopping with Black Friday and CyperMonday launching the season. Those who are less fortunate are often stuck working on Thanksgiving Day and even longer hours until after New Years because retailers are using extended hours to add convenience for shoppers.  However, Giving Tuesday is an opportunity for us to honor the working poor who often rely on social services and charities for assistance to get their families through the holidays.

Over the Thanksgiving, I saw calls for boycotts of various retailers in response to the poor working conditions, discrimination, and unlivable wages that many service employees face in order to ensure the majority of Americans have less wait time standing in line. Feeling guilty for being more fortunate or ignoring the suffering of others is not the solution, but the National Day of Giving which is the first Tuesday after Black Friday can be your way of honoring those who have the least. Today is Giving Tuesday, and do you want to miss out on an opportunity to kick off the season of goodwill?

According to Whitehouse.gov,

Started by the United Nations Foundation and the 92d Street Y, #GivingTuesday builds on the American tradition of giving back but uses technology to give this greater impact. This commemoration does not seek to coordinate funds toward any particular nonprofit or to direct volunteers to support a specific cause. Instead, #GivingTuesday is intended to encourage Americans to reflect and give back. It’s a collective moment for individual and community action.

#GivingTuesday has significant momentum. More than 7000 partners across all 50 states are taking part. This includes large corporations and small businesses, faith-based organizations and secular nonprofits. This year, cities are stepping forward to galvanize the movement.  They are celebrating local causes through unique campaigns like BMoreGivesMore in Baltimore; #GivingTuesdayBucks in Bucks County, PA; and #GivingTuesdayPHL in Philadelphia. In all these communities, nonprofits, businesses and government are collaborating to raise awareness and drive funds for those in need.

With Giving Tuesday, there is no standing in line because you can make a donation to your favorite charity via cell phone or computer. Maybe, you are short of cash because you spent too much money on Black Friday and CyperMonday. Today, could be a perfect opportunity to  do something nice for someone, volunteer, clean out your closet for a clothing donation, take cans to the food bank, or sending out an encouraging e-card.

The point I am trying to make is find a way to give to someone else today. If you don’t have monetary capital to donate, social capital is just as good. Let Givingtuesday.org  know how you are celebrating. You can send tweets using the hashtag #givingtuesday or make a post on their Facebook Fanpage.



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