Saturday, September 14, 2013

Student Plan - Setting Goals for the Year

For three years now I have included a "Student Plan" in my student's practice books.  This is a paper where we write down goals for the year.  Each year I change it up a little (and hopefully improve it) and I believe that it helps us stay focused on certain things the students, parents, and I would like to accomplish during the year.

The beginning of a new school year (rather than January) is my favorite time for a "new beginning" when it comes to music lessons with my children and students.  We've survived the craziness of summer and are ready to start a new routine with new goals.  

I ask the students to come up with 1-3 goals (they could come up with more if they'd like, but I've never had anyone do that yet.) I tell them it can be anything they'd like that has to do with violin and I don't care.  Some goals the I've seen:

Finish book 2 by the end of the year.
Play in church.
Practice every day.
Improve my posture.
Learn a duet with my sister.


Throughout the year I consistently refer back to the goals and I try to keep the lessons on track so the students can accomplish their goals.  It's fun at the end of the year to look back and see if the kids accomplished their goals.

This year I also added a section where the parents could write goals they'd like to see.  This could be their own personal goals or something they'd like to see with their child.  The most common of these goals is about happy practicing, or starting practicing without complaining.  I think this is a great way for the kids to realize exactly what the parents expect from them.

New this year is also a section where I, as their teacher, can write some things I'd like the students to work on.  This often has to do with specific posture points or musicality.  One goal I often put is for that I want the student to learn to love the violin.  That would be my ultimate goal for these students of mine.  

I also include a section where they can plan when they are going to practice and listen as well as what we plan to play for the upcoming recital and Federation.

I've always been a goal setter because I strongly believe that writing down goals is a better way to accomplish something.  I've heard several studies about goal setting online (some of which seem to be false, unfortunately), however, I did read that according to Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech: People who regularly write down their goals earn nine times as much over their lifetimes as people who don't.

That should be reason enough to spend a few minutes each year creating goals for yourself.  I tell all of my students this to help them get motivated to write down your goals.

What are some things you do to help your children or students accomplish their goals?

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