Got Goals? Increasing Student Accountability & Goal Awareness

Saturday, August 19, 2017
One of my biggest pet peeves is when students do not know why they come to speech therapy. "To play games" just doesn't cut it in my book. Do we ever play games in my room? Absolutely. Not every session, but it does happen. However, that game is a medium to address the specific goals, not the goal itself. Now, I know that you all know that so you're probably thinking I'm preaching to the choir, right? My point is that WE know what the purpose of that game or activity is but do our students?

Having students know what they target in speech-language has always been an important factor for me but a couple years ago I had to take a good hard look at HOW I was doing that. As a token of congratulations for being nominated educator of the year, my sweet SLP colleague compiled a book for me with responses from my students about what they love about coming to speech. The responses truly touched my heart (I may have shed a tear or twenty) but responses that referenced the WHY they came to speech were in the minority. I am a big proponent of self-reflection so I had to take a step back and really think about what I could do to make sure that was in the forefront of their thinking about speech. My challenge? It was important to me to address that in a way that would not sacrifice the strong interpersonal relationships with my students that I hold near and dear to my heart. 

Flash forward to the next year... our SLP assignments were changed and I was now tasked to ensure that my self-reflection of increasing goal awareness took place while also establishing authentic relationships with new students. The solution that worked for me was using Speech Therapy Goal Tags. I'll be honest here... they weren't just helpful for my students but for me as well! Not only were my students learning what their speech therapy targets were, but I was learning what their specific targets were. Particularly for my students targeting language skills, this can be a difficult task.

What I didn't anticipate was how much the students would LOVE the tags. I intentionally made the goal tags in landscape orientation so they would be easy to discern from brag tags that we added. To the students, the tags were regarded as an ID badge. I included a schedule badge to encourage students to come down to therapy independently at their scheduled time. I had to hide my giggles when I would spot a student testing out their badge to see if it would gain them access to the elevator like staff badges do. 

How did they work?

Students were active participants in assembling their goal badges onto their lanyards. This was a great opportunity to talk about what they were working on in speech in a relevant project based manner that held relevance. The badges then traveled with students back and forth from class. They were also a helpful reminder to teachers about what each student was targeting in student friendly "I can" terms. Students took pride in them and would often ask for special permission to take them home and show their parents (ummm... absolutely!). 

I highly recommend trying it out to see how it works for you and your students. You can create your own tags with index cards/cardstock or use the Speech Therapy Goal Tags that I made if you want a print and go option. I added a customizable option as well so you can taylor them to meet your specific needs. 

What works for you? I'd love to hear. Shoot me a message or let me know in the comments below!

UPDATE: Do you want to hear more about using Goal Tags? Check them out in the video below!
(Don't mind the awkward screen shot... thanks YouTube!)

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