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SMART Goals Can Inspire Progress Toward Learning

This is part two of a three-post series on SMART goals.

In the first post of this series, we explained how SMART goals focus upon problem solving, precision, and responsibility toward lifelong learning. In this post, we will examine how we can inspire and motivate our students to realize success on their own path to achievement.

As our students embark on a journey toward responsible goal setting, we can begin to personalize the learning process in student-centered classrooms. Student-centered classrooms recognize students as sole proprietors in charge of their own achievement; however, many students struggle to be motivated while finding ways to connect with appropriately challenging work that deepens their learning.1

Personalizing learning for each student galvanizes the growth process and allows us to rethink the way we lead, teach, and support students in their learning. By creating opportunities for success and taking advantage of the skills most students already possess, a SMART student-centered approach can specifically tailor learning to each student’s strengths, needs, and interests while maintaining rigor toward standards.3

Moreover, we can entrust students to become more invested in their own learning paths through SMART goal setting and develop skills like self-awareness, self-reflection, and honest self-assessment needed to become lifelong learners.1 We can motivate and inspire learning by:

  • Differentiating learning activities for the student. Teachers can create, adapt, and assign assessments within Otus. Assessments can be assigned to specific students, groups (Flags), or classes. Teachers can then use Otus Analytics to monitor student progress.
  • Customizing instructional delivery. Teachers can add a variety of instructional media resources (videos, images, articles, website links, and Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) resources) to the Otus Bookshelf. Bookshelf resources can be assigned to specific students, groups (Flags), or classes, and accessed via one-click.
  • Engaging in honest self-reflection. Students can voice their learning preferences in the Student Learning Profile. Students can also add assessments to their Portfolio and write about their academic and goal progress on the Otus Blog.

When we inspire progress toward learning, students begin to know themselves as learners who understand how to learn and not simply acquire information in a hyper connected world.1 When given control over their learning in a student-centered classroom, students are driving their own learning with a clear view of their own goals and a path to achieve them.4

Nevertheless, by approaching teaching and learning with a SMART goal mindset, we can inspire and motivate students to take ownership of their own learning while developing the knowledge, skills, and abilities that will prepare them for college, a career, and life.2


1. Mike Anderson, Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn: The Key to Student Motivation and Achievement (Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2016).
2. The Future Ready Framework. Futureready.org. http://dashboard.futurereadyschools.org/framework/student-learning
3. Peggy Grant and Dale Basye, Personalized Learning: A Guide for Engaging Students with Technology (Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, 2014).
4.Stacy Childress and Scott Benson, “Personalized Learning for Every Student Every Day,” The Phi Delta Kappan 95, no. 8 (2014): 33-38, http://www.jstor.org/stable/24374606..


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