Build a stronger community of readers: 17 educators share how and why setting goals leads to growth

You want every student to develop the reading skills they need to achieve academic success across the content areas and lead richer, fuller lives. How important is it to set personalized reading goals? How and why does it help lead to greater growth?

We asked educators in our Renaissance Royals community to join the conversation, asking them to share their thoughts on the correlation between setting individual goals and greater student motivation and achievement.

Teachers, librarians, reading coordinators, and principals responded with tips and insights on how and why they set personalized reading goals. Here are 17 of the comments they shared.

1. “Students are more successful meeting goals when they are a part of setting them. We can guide them toward obtainable goals, so they are as successful as possible. Having short and long-term goals is also realistic and can help students with lifelong skills.”

Sandra C.
Title I reading teacher, Missouri

2. “Expectations and goals matter! When a student knows you have expectations and the goals are clearly stated, they can work toward achieving those goals. It is important to acknowledge the achievement whether it be with a high five, a shout out, or whatever you choose.”

Sarina B.
Librarian, California

3. “Goal setting gives students a purpose and using a chart in the classroom lets them see their progress. Make charts fun. Mine is a football field, and the goal line moves every 10 yards throughout the marking period. Students are excited when they get a ‘first down’ for the week!”

Andrea W.
Fourth-grade teacher, Michigan

4. “I have found that students who participate in creating their goals are more likely to put in effort towards reaching those goals. I also tend to see more growth from those students as well.”

Alecia W.
High school teacher, Connecticut

5. “When my students have a personal goal, they push themselves harder to reach that goal. They come running in to us teachers so excited about the goal they have reached or almost reached and look forward to setting the next goal.”

Kelsie H.
Teacher/principal, Montana

6. “I allow my students to conference with me, so we can come up with a reading goal together. I also agree with others on setting small achievable goals so that students will not get discouraged when they cannot reach the goals in a timely manner. This really seems to work with my students and they are always talking about reaching their goals.”

Alisha T.
Teacher/principal, Montana

7. “When students take part in setting their own goals, they are more motivated to read and work towards those goals.”

Shelly F.
Sixth-grade teacher, South Carolina

8. “When students set personal goals, they take more ownership of it and want to reach their goals. I love seeing them rush to the library to find a new book. When teachers embraced this with their students, we started seeing an increase in their growth by the end of the school year.”

Lauren T.
Reading coordinator, Texas

9. “I have noticed that students take pride in their goals and work harder toward them if they are actively involved in setting them.”

Krystal D.
Media specialist, Alabama

10. “What I know is that students who are aware of their personal goals and instructional goals are much more motivated and involved in their own learning. When kids are active learners and know where they are trying to go, they will do better!”

Cathy S.
K–12 instructional leader, Alabama

11. “Getting teacher buy-in is vital for this step. I am often on the outside looking in because teachers have more time with students than me. But having a meaningful conversation about goals and the reasoning behind it would get teacher (and student) buy-in.”

Jason E.
Librarian, Mississippi

12. “When realistic goals are set, growth is achieved. Monitoring is key.”

Lisa C.
Accelerated Reader coordinator, Florida

13. “I set the students’ individual goals based on their Star tests. We also have ‘weekly meetings’ to discuss their Accelerated Reader goals and points. The students feel important when looking at their reports.”

Katie W.
Second-grade teacher, Mississippi

14. “The better the kids understand where they are, the more accurately they can assess where they need to go.”

Lloyd G.
Teacher, Nevada

15. “Setting goals for my students works great because they have something to look forward to. It helps them see what they are working for and how achievable it can be.”

Minerva G.
Teacher, Texas

16. “The students enjoy setting realistic and obtainable goals for their reading! They are more excited when they obtain those goals!”

Virginia W.
Librarian/Accelerated Reader administrator, Texas

17. “Setting individual goals has been very positive for my students because some students need to be challenged and some students need something a little easier to help them get over that hump to meet their goals.”

Angela D.
Fourth-grade teacher/Accelerated Reader coordinator, Florida

Looking for more insights and new ways to strengthen reading practice? See a curated collection of resources to help build a community of readers and our recent post on five different ways to get started in your school or district.

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