Definition of SMART Goals & Numerous Examples for Teachers

We all know that setting goals and working on them helps us to achieve our aims. When teachers set SMART goals, they do this to ensure they can help their students achieve better test results and improve their work throughout the semester.

Regular goals may help people to achieve what they want; SMART goals ensure the likelihood of these goals being achieved is considerably higher. In 1981 James Cunningham, George Doran and Arthur Miller wrote an article explaining the use of SMART goals and how they can help to ensure specific goals are achieved, since then millions of people have started to use this system effectively.

SMART stands for:

Specific: A specific goal that needs to be met, this section will include descriptions of exactly who will attempt to meet the goals when and where these will be achieved, why and how these goals will attempt to be achieved will also be considered.

Measurable: This section helps the user to determine exactly when the goal will be attained. It’s highly important for the date to be set as it will have an impact on the end result.

Attainable: When a desired outcome is set, it’s important that steps to achieve the outcome are considered. This will help to make the outcome more attainable and seem a lot easier to reach. This will also help to promote motivation as it makes the outcome seem more reachable from the start.

Realistic: Although achieving specific outcomes and goals would be wonderful, they have to be realistic. Examining the outcomes and questioning if they are realistic will help to ensure you’re not expecting too much of yourself or others. If a goal is unrealistic, the level of motivation will decrease over time, and it’s unlikely the desired outcome will be achieved.

Timely: When it comes to setting a specific outcome, it’s important that it can be achieved within a specific time frame. There needs to be a finish line because without one, there is always the chance the outcome(s) will not be achieved.

SMART goals can be used by many different teachers in every school; here are a few examples as to how they could be used:

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Example For Art Teachers

Art teachers can use SMART goals to help them in increasing the percentage of students who are able to meet expectations for ink drawing, as an example. The drawings will need to show understandings of specific methods as well as skill and creativity.

Example For Maths Teachers

As an example, Math teachers may want to think about increasing the percentage of students who are able to meet the expectations for basic algebraic principles. This example is limited to High School Teachers as younger students will need to work on simpler principles. At the start of the semester you may have 5% of students who are able to add together two numbers in their heads, but by the end of the semester you may wish to set a goal so that 10% of the class is able to so this.

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Example For English Teachers

Elementary teachers who are teaching English should ideally use SMART goals focus to ensure their students can understand and use conjunctions by the end of the semester. High School students’ goals could relate to comprehension or paragraph use skills.

Example For Spanish Teachers

Spanish teachers (and obviously other foriegn language teachers) may wish to ensure a certain percentage of their class is able to describe their family or the weather in Spanish by the end of the semester. They may also want to tackle written Spanish too, and this can be added to the list of aims you wish to achieve.

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Example for French Teachers

The long-term aim may be to instill a love of the language and traditions of France, but there are more measurable objectives that a good teacher can use to motivate and record student progress. Good examples of smart goals include an automatic and appropriate response to a greeting in French and the ability to remember the masculine or feminine nature of certain words.

Examples for History Teachers

History is a very complex subject and one where comprehension only comes with time, but there are still measurable goals that can be used in the classroom; to be able to put a series of events onto a time-line, or to work out the causes of a historical event are both good examples.

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Example for Geography Teachers

Along the path to an overall understanding of the world we live in there are many tiny steps that students can take, many of which can be measured and recorded. The ability to draw a map of the classroom or to explain how air movements in the atmosphere are created are two excellent examples of recordable objectives

Examples for Biology Teachers

Being able to label the parts of a flower and to describe what each part does is a SMART goal on the way to understanding vegetative reproduction in plants. Another example would be the ability to use a key to identify an unknown insect.

Examples for Chemistry Teachers

The ability to use physical properties to divide materials into metals and non-metals or to use litmus paper to identify acids and bases are worthwhile goals that can be measured along the way to understanding properties of different elements.

Examples for Physics Teachers

Understanding electricity is a very abstract concept but teachers can divide up the concept and use measurable ideas such as the ability to complete an electrical circuit and the ability to draw circuit diagrams to chart their students’ progress towards the larger goal.

Examples for Special Education Teachers

Measuring a child’s progress through a reading program is very simple given the structured nature of all these schemes, similarly a special education teacher may measure a child’s improving attention span by recording the time the child will stay on a given task over time.

Examples for Social Studies Teachers

Teachers of religious studies may measure their students’ progress by their ability to explain the origins of events such as Hajj or Easter. Economics teachers can use SMART goals such as asking students to  explain why flowers increase in price on St Valentine’s Day or to recall the reasons for the Great Depression.

Examples for P.E (Physical Education) Teachers

Teachers can set measurable goals such as shorter times to complete a cross-country course or the ability to swim greater distances.

Advantages & Disadvantages of SMART Goals

The Advantages:

  • You become more organized and can tackle large processes easily

  • You can closely monitor your students and watch how they progress

  • Setting up realistic goals can help to maintain motivation

The Disadvantages:

  • If you’re not aware of the larger goal at the end, the little ones can take you off on a tangent.

  • You have to understand the targets are the stepping stones you need to get to the final destination, otherwise you will not succeed.

Using Goals in Every Classrrom

SMART goals need to be created for a specific group so there’s no point setting an inappropriate target, such as that students will understand the cohesive properties of ions if they’re elementary students, when all they should be learning about is the different properties of salt-based liquids and gases. Science teachers may want to teach their students about a complex process like photosynthesis but you may be better off breaking the photosynthesis process down into different steps such as carbon dioxide absorption, glucose production and the role of chlorophyll.

A lot of students are afraid of learning about physics, but setting up the right SMART goals can help you to make them more confident, more at ease and more aware of how physics works and how much it matters. These objectives can also help to promote the world of physics as it is not one of the top subjects students go on to study at university.

Elementary school teachers may have different objectives to those who work in high schools as they are introducing children to the world of learning, but with the right SMART goals and the right attitude, now teachers can achieve realistic goals by the end of each semester and therefore and more importantly, help to improve the grades of more and more students.