According to the History Channel people have been setting goals in January for more than 4,000 years. *1

Despite all of this practice, the article goes on to report that few of us actually meet the goals so earnestly proclaimed on January 1st. While setting goals as learners is not identical to making a New Year’s resolution, the intent to grow and change is undeniably similar.

When goal setting is viewed as one of seven actions rather than an isolated event, we can go beyond good intentions and hopes of improvement. When we know where we’re going, what success looks like, and receive feedback in relation to that success criteria, we can set goals and self-monitor our way to success.

When goal setting is viewed as an action of assessment for learning, rather than an isolated event, we go beyond good intentions and hopes of improvement. – Davies, Augusta, Herbst Click To Tweet

As you move forward into the new term or semester, consider the following examples of effective goal setting. What might assist you as you set goals for your own learning or support other learners in the process?


  • At the beginning of the year, a high school English teacher co-constructed criteria with her students on what is important in reading like a Grade 12 student. Students were asked to think about all they did to understand the text and make their thinking public. The teacher then added to this brainstorm list as she modelled her own reading aloud and asked students to notice what she was doing in addition to what was on the chart. In this way the criteria becomes a ‘to teach’ list for the teacher and a ‘to learn’ list for the students. As students choose to focus on various components of the criteria (set goals) they increase their repertoire of comprehension skills.
  • In an elementary mathematics class the teacher and students brainstormed a list of mental math strategies that mathematicians use. The posted list was then used by students to indicate which of the strategies they were currently working on during the weekly math workshop. Before establishing a new goal the students provided evidence of their learning either orally or in their math journal.
  • A district leadership team co-constructed criteria about what is important in co-teaching when implementing this change in practice. Teachers read articles and watched videos about successful co-teaching. At monthly coaching meetings each pair of teachers self-reflected on the criteria and set a goal for the next month. In the following month the conversation began with a discussion centred on a goal reflection sheet – where we are with our goal, evidence that supports this reflection, and an action plan for continued work on the same goal or a new one.





Next Step…

Plan together to meet the needs of students.




We have set Monday after school as our planning time. Our planning book shows we have met the last 4 Mondays.

To try another co-teaching structure beyond One Teach/One Support.

 Moving Forward with Goal Setting

  1. Choose a topic, subject, or initiative for your learners to set goals.
  2. How will you help them understand quality?
  3. Ask each learner to identify a goal. Use or adapt the template on p. 75 in Self-Assessment and Goal Setting, 2nd Edition.
  4. Choose a time to collect and review evidence on the goal.
  5. Revise the plan or set a new goal.


*1 Reference:


Anne Davies, Sandra Herbst, and Brenda Augusta

Anne Davies, Sandra Herbst, and Brenda Augusta

Anne Davies, Sandra Herbst, and Brenda Augusta are educators, consultants, authors, and presenters who are highly sought after, both locally and globally. Their energy, passion, and expertise have helped teachers, leaders, schools, and systems to move forward with competence and confidence. Learn more about the team here...


Like most education professionals, we have a burning desire to make a difference in the lives of learners. We started as teachers and leaders, but saw the potential to drive greater transformation by creating and sharing methodologies with other educators.

Learn more...



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