Your Students Created Their Vision Boards. Now What?

January 8, 2019

Your Students Created Their Vision Boards. Now What?
The new year is officially in full swing, and what better way to have your students kick off 2019 than by visualizing their short- and long-term goals? 

Vision boards have long been trendy on Pinterest and around the water cooler at work, but they have a place in schools, too! There’s something about the way students’ eyes light up as they sift through magazines, newspapers, and online images to curate their poster boards. There's something in the way their smiles broaden when the finished product is displayed in the classroom, in the school’s hallways, or even just at home; it really motivates them and helps them see that their dreams are possible. 

But what happens after the vision board has been posted, the presentation on students’ prophetic vision is delivered, and the compliments are conveyed? What’s the next step? How can we hold students accountable? I’ve found that there are several ways to teach our children the art of planning for their futures. 

1. Make the Vision S.M.A.R.T.

Or specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. It may be a good idea to have a vision for them to reach by the end of the school year. Alternatively, if the S.M.A.R.T. goal is long-term, the students should have reached a major goal by the school year’s end. Setting SMART guidelines can ensure students aren’t over-extending themselves or undermining their own efforts with visions that are far-fetched or not well thought-out. 

2. Create a Checklist with Firm Timetables

Having students keep a checklist of specific things to do at certain checkpoints will help them track their progress toward their final destination. Students should view their checklist at least once a week to see where they are in reaching their short or long-term goals. Each time they check off a task, they should be able to verbally explain the process, challenges, and successes. They will notice if they are not meeting deadlines or if they are ahead of schedule.

3. Have Monthly Check-ins

As a teacher, you essentially act as the advisor. You should analyze their checklist and ask questions, co-monitoring their progress to determine if the final goal needs to be modified or if accommodations need to be made. It’s also up to you to nudge the student to solve their own problems and celebrate their efforts. Close-up of calendar

4. Bring in Motivational Speakers

Bringing in professionals who are trained to motivate can make a dramatic impact. When I was in middle school, I remember motivational speakers would come to my classroom twice a semester. Their words and the conviction with which they spoke made me feel like I could conquer the world in one day. Hearing their vision and how they prepared for success made me realize, even as a preteen, that these people grew up just like me, some with even more challenges. If they kept up with their vision, then why couldn’t I?

5. Pair Up Peer Partners

Encouraging students to share their visions, ideas, and progress among themselves can be helpful, as they really care about what their peers think. This can keep them on task. Having peer partners also affords students the opportunity to share their successes and failures without feeling evaluated by the teacher. Partners can find trends and common distractions in their plans, and they can build meaningful relationships. 

6. Celebrate

Nothing makes a child feel more honored and motivated than to be celebrated by teachers in the presence of their peers. When students have reached a milestone, acknowledge that publicly. Awards assemblies, PA announcements, catered lunches, display posters—these are all ways to give credit to those who take their vision to the next step. 

Remember: if there is no plan, a vision board is just a cute assignment; a dream. But there is nothing like seeing a dream come true. 

Tags: teacher tips
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.

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