December 27, 2016

New Years Resolutions: How Do We Get Students to Buy In?

Christmas is over and most people are setting their sights on the future and that means New Year's Resolutions! We all know how hard it can be to stick to a resolution as adults so how on earth are we supposed to get our students to buy into goal setting and a fresh start!? Let's start with what we know and then come with a solution to the problem.

Keep in mind I am approaching this from a health and phys. ed perspective, but there ideas and guidelines can apply to many aspect of the educational experience.

 According to Forbes, it's estimated that more than 40 percent of Americans make some sort of New Year's Resolution annually. Of those resolutions, the top ten include three major health goals; losing weight (1), staying fit and healthy (5), and quitting smoking (7). In reality, it's estimated that only eight percent of individuals actually succeed in meeting their resolutions. We as educators may fall into this conundrum ourselves! So how do we set a good example for our students?

Keep It Simple. Too often, our resolutions involve a complete makeover of some aspect of our lives and too much change at one time is difficult to maintain. This is even more important for our students! When we talk to them about New Year's Resolutions and setting appropriate fitness goals, we also have to talk about what makes goals appropriate and attainable. Starting off with a goal of going to the gym for an hour everyday to improve muscular strength and endurance will not be attainable and sets the student up to fail. Instead, break the goal down and determine how often a student can realistically get to gym, how much time they can spend there, and what knowledge they have of weight training to successfully complete a workout. Ensure they take their goals home to discuss with a parent! Parental involvement is key for our students to succeed in any classroom, but especially when we look at impacting their lives outside of the classroom.

The Bottom Line... Keep goals simple to start and add on to them later once the simple goals have been met.

Develop a Plan Generic goals often fail because there is no specific criteria to hold us accountable. "I want to lose weight" or "I want to improve my cardiovascular endurance" are not sufficient resolutions because it provides no details in how to obtain them. It is critical to talk to students about SMART Goals (specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). Developing a plan to match your goal will help you stay motivated and hold you accountable. Help students develop plans in class to help obtain their goals. Provide feedback and suggestions before sending it home to show parents.

The Bottom Line... S.M.A.R.T guidelines for goal setting will help students develop a plan to increase their likelihood of success.

Check In Often. When students know that you have a vested interest in their goals and what they are trying to accomplish, they're more motivated to succeed. Schedule weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly check-ins to see how students are doing. This is an excellent opportunity to provide feedback, support, advice, modify goals, and to celebrate their accomplishments! You can even make up your own classroom achievement award to give to students who meet their resolutions.

The Bottom Line... Be there as a support for your students and celebrate their accomplishments!

Be a Role Model.The best way to motivate students is to show them how you're working on accomplishing your own resolutions. So long as you feel comfortable, share what your resolutions are with your students, check-in with them, and ask them to help reach your goals. I am only in my fourth year of teaching, but I have found that being honest and appropriately open with my students helps them feel safer in my classroom and more willing to share their own experiences. Goal setting and New Year's Resolutions provide the perfect opportunity to collaborate with students to reach common goals.

The Bottom Line... Be the example for your students.

No matter what resolutions you and your students may be embarking on for 2017, remember to follow this simple advice. Resolutions don't have to be overwhelming if they're thought out, organized, and attainable. Remember to go over SMART Goals with your students and check-in often. Many blessings to each of you as we enter 2017!

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