“Success is a bit tricky without setting goals to guide you. It is goals that help you fulfil what you want to. In school, I had a target pass mark of 75 per cent which I had to meet; this pushed me to read harder to achieve it. Although I was a basketball team captain, I managed to balance the two, however, school was top first priority,” says Hannah Christa Rubenga, a former senior six student.
Rubenga says that the simple act of writing down one’s goals makes it more possible to achieve them. However, students should write goals that they can measure and attain. Identify specific steps to take to reach them.
A goal is a visible and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be accomplished within a more or less fixed time frame. Setting reasonable goals is a task for both teachers and parents. It starts with the grooming, confidence in academic aptitudes and the influence to take action to progress. Teaching students to set personal goals starts with training them to believe in themselves.
According to Eva Mutumba, a teacher at Little Bears Montessori, Kimihurura, smart goals are always targets for the educationists; however, if a student is focused enough on their future they can be of great value to them.
She says any student who knows what they want to be in the future can use smart goals in any field of their interest, if they are laid out appropriately on their tables, the outcome can be spectacular.
Mutumba says that students should be in love with what they do, for instance, drafting time tables, revising and doing extensive research.
She advises students to evaluate the ability for what they have set, then get time to contemplate what the outcome will be.
Stay focused; know what you are looking for. You can only shoot when you jump higher, therefore, do not be too comfortable, she says.
Sarah Kabiswa Nakiberu, a teacher at Green Hills Academy, Nyarutarama, explains that every student ought to know what a goal is. They should be able to understand the benefits of setting goals, both at a personal and academic level. It is the duty of the teachers and parents to foster this into the students’ day-to-day activities.
“Smart goals are not very easy to set, even for adults. Think about it; when was the last time you set a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goal? Therefore, students need guidance and support in setting and achieving smart goals. They should understand clearly that these things are a must to take on,” she adds.
Mutumba urges learners to set goals for themselves based on areas they want to grow, monitor their progress daily, or have weekly evaluation. In order to set new goals, they should first achieve preceding ones. Teachers ought to recurrently review student’s progress towards goals and discuss any possible adjustments.
Enos Tumwikirize, a Kigali Parents School teacher, says students’ academic goals have a strong attachment to career guidance given by their teachers in classes. However, students need to have their own interests in what they intend to become in the future. Therefore, students can make smart academic goals based on that. For example, a student who wants to become a doctor or an engineer can put more emphasis on science subjects.
Tumwikirize says that learners can also make good academic goals in relation to the job market. For example, students can also concentrate on technology since it is a requirement in most of the job sectors today.
Nakiberu says that research has shown that setting goals for students improves both motivation and achievement in life. It strongly encourages a growth mindset, as it supports the development of skills students need to be prepared for the future.
“For all my grade eight students, the first thing I teach them when I start the academic year is how to set smart goals and follow through. They set their goals and I always realise great results from them. Of course with due follow-up,” she says.
Richard Kaweesi, the chief executive of Brain Teasers Rwanda, says that a good goal will be one that can be measured with a specific standard set. It starts with something that the student feels is attainable, given the strengths and challenges and the amount of time invested to improve skills.
In order for a goal to be worthwhile, it needs to have a starting and end point so that there is a clear time period in which the work necessary to accomplish the goal is to be done, so that there is an exact time to evaluate whether or not the goal was met.