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Help Your Students Reach For the Stars With a Classroom Goal Tree

written by: Julia Bodeeb • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 3/22/2012

Many students today do not receive enough positive motivation in their lives. Outside pressures, struggles in school, busy schedules -- all of these can combine to make goals seem distant and out of reach. Help your students stay motivated with this simple, yet effective project.

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    Help Your Students Focus By Creating a Goal Statement

    A good way to get to know your students at the start of the school year and understand each student's motivation, is to have them think about the future and the goals they would like to achieve. Have them write an essay about the goals they have set for their lives. Once a teacher knows what each student is hoping to achieve, it is much easier to guide a class in a direction they will find interesting and useful.

    Once the essays are completed, collect the originals, read them, and make two copies.

    Then put the original goal statement in an envelope and return it to the student for safe keeping. Writing down their goals for the future helps students get focused on keeping their grades high and starting to make plans for college or whatever vocational training they may need for their desired career.

    Put one copy of the goals in the student’s folder and keep the other copy in a folder with your teaching paperwork. This way the goals are readily available if a student is in need of motivation, or if the goals are needed to try to figure out a strategy to help a student who may be in need of some help from the Guidance department.

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    Create The Goal Tree & Make Your Students The Stars

    The goal tree serves as a bright addition to the classroom and a daily reminder that future dreams can be achieved. The tree may also help students withstand negative peer pressure.

    The tree itself can be a little old fashioned holiday type tree; it is easy to find the kind with branches that stick straight out at thrift stores. These inexpensive artificial trees work perfectly as the spindly branches are perfect for hanging items.

    Then give each student a brightly colored star and ask them to put their name on it and also, if they wish, the goal they have for their career. They do not have to reveal their career goal to the class, if they want to keep it private, that is okay. You may also want to tell students they are a “star." So many kids don’t get enough positive reinforcement of their value in life; so when passing out the stars let them know that you expect them to be one of your stars in class that year.

    When the stars are all hung on the tree it makes a festive display. It motivates students a bit to see their goal hanging there. Also, as the year goes on, it is fun to add little stars on their star if they make the Honor Roll or reach some other achievement.

    If a student arrives in class after the start of the year, be sure to explain the goal tree idea to them. Then give them a star to hang on the tree too so they feel like part of their new class.

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    Other Options

    Sometimes a classroom feels like a very sterile, colorless place. The goal tree personalizes the room for the students and adds a bit of color to the room. However, if you do not have space for a tree, one could also simply use garlands to hang the goal stars. Just take a hole punch to make holes in the star, string some ribbon and hang the star on a garland that has been strung along a wall of the classroom.

    While this is meant to be a purely motivational exercise, if you would like to assess this project, you could give each student a grade for writing the goal statements.

    I hope you will consider adding a goal tree (or garland) to your classroom and helping each of your students reach for the stars.

Help Your Students Set Future Goals & Plan for Careers With These Lesson Plans

It's never too early for students to think about what they will do once their graduation cap is tossed in the air and high school is behind them. Help your students prepare for and think about their future with these lesson plans meant to motivate and inspire.
  1. Help Your Students Reach For the Stars With a Classroom Goal Tree
  2. Project for Middle School Students to Research Careers
  3. A Lesson on Goal Setting for Students: A Vital Skill for Success
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