Many adults begin the new year with high hopes and new resolutions. When I asked several middle and high school age students what their New Year resolutions or goals were they said, “better grades.” When asked to elaborate though they were at a loss as to how they planned to reach that goal. Students are doing what they feel is the most they can do and then just hoping that it is enough to raise their grades. Sometimes they are surprised when it is not.
How can we help them set and attain a successful goal? The first step is to make sure their goal is a SMART goal. By that I mean it needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time specific. (My apologies to the creator of that acronym). Let’s talk about the first two today. So, how do you make “better grades” more specific and measurable?
First, define which grades they would like to improve and by how much. If your student is bringing home C’s and B’s, then honor roll is not out of reach but some subjects will need more work than others. For instance,” bring my science grade up from a C to a B” is more specific than “improving my grade”. From this point they can find out what their numeric average is and actually calculate how many points they need to raise it up a grade.
Next, make the goal measurable by using the average they are aiming for. For next term, I will raise my science grade by 12 points to an 83% in order to get a B for the term. Now they can actually figure out the specifics they need to raise that grade. If they studied for an hour for a test and received a 75%, would two hours be enough to bring their grade to a 91%? That’s right they would need a 91 in order to bring a 75% up to an 83%. A low grade takes extra effort to raise their average by a few points. Homework also has an effect as it often throws students a curve ball because they do not understand the impact one missing homework can have.
If your student would benefit from help with goal setting, time management and organization skills, then check out our upcoming class, Learning Logistics at the Hingham Community Center. Next class starts January 24th, 2011.