The Importance of Creating Goals
Travis Smid

When I was in the teaching program at UBC, we were sometimes given assignments that 22 year old me did not appreciate and most likely thought was lame and I probably rolled my eyes when given the instructions. My friends in the program and I often had a conversation about “what does this assignment have to do with teaching?” I remember one such assignment called our Auto-Geography. The professor wanted us to create a presentation that told our story. We had to use these three headings: Where I Come From, Where I Am Now, and Where I Hope to Be. My eyes might have rolled into the back of my head.

I recently came across this assignment when cleaning up my computer files. The thing that stood out to me was the Where I Hope to Be section. In this section, we had to create 5 goals we want to achieve in the next 10 years. My goals were:

  1. Live in a major city for longer than 6 months
  2. Teach abroad, more specifically the Middle East
  3. Become a full time teacher
  4. Marry a girl that wouldn’t mind being associated with me
  5. Start a family

Please excuse the wording of number 4, I think I was trying to be funny. But I can say that I have successfully achieved all of these goals. I did marry someone that actually loves to be with me. We went on an adventure together and lived and taught at an international school in Cairo, Egypt for a year. Teaching has become my full-time profession. And finally, I have a family that has grown to four.

Reflecting on these goals and my last 10 years, it has become even more apparent to me how important goal setting can be, how influential making goals can be in giving direction to someone’s life, and that maybe those UBC professors did know in fact what they were doing.

In my position as a Learning Strategies teacher, part of my work with students is around creating goals. To give some framework to goal setting we use SMART goals. The acronym does have some interpretations but I like this one the best:

This website gives a better description of the 5 parts of SMART goals than I could. It takes practice to get good at making SMART goals but following its guidelines gives us goals that are reachable and applicable.

When reflecting on their goals at different points of the year, we often talk about Where They Came From, Where They Are Now, and Where They Hope To Be. This progression of thinking helps students understand the growth that has taken place in their learning and gives an idea of what they still need to achieve. Many of our students' goals have to do with learning and developing skills that will help them reach their full potential. It is nice because we can easily see their progression and growth take place over a year. As students reach Grades 11 and 12, we start planning about places they want to go to after their time here, about universities they want to attend, professions they want to pursue. We also start discussing big goals that may give direction to their life: how to be a well-rounded person, what kind of life they want to lead, and most importantly, the differences they want to make in their communities.

I cannot go back to my 22 year old self and give him a pep talk about how important these goals I was making were going to be in my life. However, I can take this lesson about goal making and be motivated to continue to grow personally while I teach its importance to as many students as I can. It does not matter how successful we become or how many goals we achieve, it is important for all of us to set goals and then reflect by asking ourselves Where We Came From, Where We Are Now, and Where We Hope To Be. 

Contributed by Travis Smid, Senior School Learning Strategies Teacher