Tutor Recommends Revisit and Adjust Goals Monthly

I have a confession to make.  Last week, I wrote that I encourage the middle, high school and college students that I teach in classes and workshops, as well as those I tutor privately,to write down the goalsthey would like to achieve for the semester or school year.  But, I’ll admit that I often get so immersed in teaching that I sometimes forget to take time to revisit and adjust those goals with students.


Why is this last step of the goal-setting process so important? Because we all – but especially young people – overestimate what we’re capable of achieving within a certain timeframe.  Even though we THOUGHT our goals were realistic(the “R” in S-M-A-R-T goals), they might not be.  Or, we may have encountered obstacles – like getting the flu in January – that stalled our progress.  That’s fine. But we need to go back to the original goal and tweak it so that we don’t continue to work toward the impossible. Doing so would end in frustration and possibly lead us to abandon ALL work toward the goal.



When should you take a moment to revisit your teen’s goals with him? Of course, it depends on the goal itself.  However, if your action planincluded at least three weekly, concrete steps that he should take, by the end of the month, he will have had 12-15 opportunities to make and show progress.  Therefore, the last week of the month would be a great time to revisit the initial goal to see whether it’s still realistic.  If it is, great.  No changes necessary.  If not, adjust the goal as necessary.


Let’s take the example we’ve dealt with since Step 1, Brainstorming.  A high school girl would like to raise her algebra grade by 10 points over the course of a one quarter marking period.  The goal is S-M-A-R-T: it’s specific (10 points in 10 weeks); measurable (by the quarter grade); actionable (we’ll get into exactly how in a moment); realistic; and, timely.  

She’s written her goal down as described in Step 2. Underneath, following Step 3’s advice, she’s added three actions: 1. visit her teacher’s extra help session every Tuesday morning; 2. get the help of a peer tutor every Wednesday morning; and, 3. do extra algebra problems every night for 15 minutes.  Brava! After four weeks of this consistent effort, she should be able to see some improvement in her grades.  If she does, awesome!  Keep going!  


Photo by Schmidy



If not, she and her parent should consider some of the reasons she’s not seen at least a couple of point spike in her grades.  Did she get sick?  Did she skimp on completing the actions in her plan?  If so, which one(s)?  If, for example, she’s unable to make it to school early on Wednesday but her tutor can meet with her during lunch, adjust this part of the action plan. 

If she’s been fulfilling the action plan but her grades have gone DOWN, inquire with the teacher.  Perhaps this month’s subject matter was particularly difficult.  Or, perhaps a ten-point increase is too ambitious for this student, and she should aim for just five.  Or, she might need to visit a peer tutor three times per week rather than just once.  Encourage your child to share her goals and action plan with the teacher to solicit his input.  He might be able to suggest appropriate adjustments to the goal and / or plan.

Finally, if the teacher, teen and parent agree that the goal and plan is appropriate, but your child just can’t muster the motivation to follow through on ANY part of the plan, you may need professional help.  An experienced, insightful tutor or therapist could explore ways to bolster her willingness to stick with the plan she created. Feel free to contact me if you or your teen need help in this regard.


This is the last of my January series on goal setting.  Instead of a written post, next Thursday, January 31, I’ll be hosting a live Q&A on Facebook at 7pm.  Send any questions that you might have about goal-setting for teens – and adults – prior to the event and I’ll be sure to answer them on air. If you’d like to participate but have a different question related to education that a tutor or teacher could answer, send that beforehand, too!

‘Til next week, Happy Revisiting and Adjusting!

Dr. P.

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