Activity: Managing Big Goals & Expectations

What better time to start implementing new healthy work habits than the beginning of the school year?

After a long Labor Day weekend, students may have lost some of the motivation they gained over the first weeks of school. Pick up the momentum by doing an activity with your class that gets them thinking about the habits they need to exercise to succeed during this semester.



  • Writing materials


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  • Students will discuss with the class the healthy habits they want to exercise this semester.

    Start a class discussion by asking: What expectations can you set for yourself this semester? Encourage answers to be as specific as possible (pass classes vs. get an A in physics). Write the answers on the board. Answers might include:


    • Getting an A in this class
    • Doing my homework every night
    • Showing up to school early every day
    • Meeting new people
    • Getting a GPA above 3.0


      Many of these goals will be more complicated than simply setting a goal, waking up, and doing it. Some researchers believe it takes doing anything 21 times before it becomes a habit. Also, students need to take big ideas, like getting an A at the end of the semester, and break it into manageable pieces they can work on throughout the semester.


      After collecting student responses, pick a few of the most common goals students want to work on this semester. Break them down like the following:


      Goal: Get an A in physics

      How can I get an A this semester?

        • Follow the syllabus
        • Turn in all my assignments on time
        • Get above 90% on all assignments
        • Get above 90% on all tests
        • Come to class on time
        • Participate in class
        • Ask questions when I don’t understand

      Give students 10-15 minutes to independently break down some of their other long-term goals and expectations for the semester. If there is time have them share with the class.


      Students know how to dream big but often have a hard time visualizing the little steps they need to take to get there. Exercises like this teach them how to see a goal and attempt to conquer it one step at a time.



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