15 May 2019

SMART GOALS: EMPOWERING STUDENTS TO IMPROVE LIFE SKILLS

Preparing life skills for students is a crucial concept in education, which is often overlooked. Young adults especially are high school graduates with limited knowledge of how to navigate through real-world expectations. Although many educators feel it is necessary to teach life skills, but their implementation is often interfered by the frustration of having to adhere to state standards and lack of time. As research suggests, Life skills education bridges the gap between basic functioning and capacity. It strengthens an individual’s ability to meet the present society’s needs and demands and helps handle issues in a practical way.

The primary objective of education is to prepare students to be independent, responsible members of society. Although standards and curriculum change over time, the need for life skills to help students navigate through life is one thing that remains constant. Today’s schools are obsessively focused on standards of meetings, teaching from scripted curriculum, and meeting test benchmarks. It’s easy for educators to lose track of teaching the whole child in the process of all of it. As high school educators with varied levels of field experience, we recognized that students were taught to regurgitate information on request instead of thinking, planning, and acting independently. Like forgetting to teach the entire child, understanding that life skills played a major role in their future success.

According to UNICEF, life skills are defined as psychosocial adaptive and positive behavior skills that allow individuals to deal effectively with everyday life’s demands and challenges. If students are never taught to use and nurture these skills specifically, society can not expect them to be prepared for college, career, and most importantly, life. While education is important, it is equally important to learn how to live life effectively. Integrating life skills training through education will help young people overcome these life challenges.

Setting goals help students manage priorities and stay on the job while driving to success with pride. An opportunity for students to take ownership of their learning by setting realistic and relevant goals and, at the same time, by applying the SMART goal framework, creating a plan to manage their time towards those objectives. Knowing that S-the specific objective, M-measure the goal’s time frame, A-if / why the goal was achievable, R-why the goal was realistic / relevant, and T-specifically how they would manage their time to achieve the goal.

However, students set a goal for how they wanted to do on their midterms after learning the parts of a SMART goal, and followed that goal with a timeline to prioritize their time leading up to the exams. They reflect on their progress weeks after students set their initial goals, complete a graphic organizer to reflect on the steps taken to achieve their goal and determine what steps had to be completed. Also, students revised their goals and time management plan as required based on their reflections as it creates a window of opportunity for boosting students life skills education.

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