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Individual and group goal setting for returning media staff


Students will reflect on last year and their experience on the media staff. They will consider the good and what needs improvement for the individual and for the group. Students will discuss these details to collectively understand where the team needs to get better. Students will write goals for them individually and collectively to improve for the next school year. By the end of this lesson, returning members should have 1-2 goals they can work on throughout the year that build off what they started previously.


  • Students will reflect on previous year(s) and what went well individually and as a staff.
  • Students will reflect on previous year(s) and where they need to improve individually, and where the staff needs to make a focus.
  • Students will create concise, realistic, measurable goal(s) for the next school year, as it pertains to their individual role on media staff.
  • Students will collaborate and decide on collective, concise, realistic, measurable goal(s) for the media staff to improve during the next school year.
  • Students will use the SMART goal strategy to help set them up for success.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1.B Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1.C Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1.D Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.


Two 45-60-minute classes

There are two homework assignments before each class that must be completed by students.

There is one prep time in between the two class lessons completed by adviser.


Poster board, markers

Lesson step-by-step for leaders/returning staff members

1. Student Prep — 15 minutes

Prior to the goal-building lesson for homework, ask returning media members to brainstorm and write down five bullet points of what went well last year. Also ask them to write down five bullet points of what they didn’t go so well last year.

Emphasize to students the focus needs to be about their media job on staff, if could be about a person on staff, something about the publication, or about the staff in general. Anything goes. Stress that we will deconstruct this together, and they need to be ready to speak on their bullet points.

2. Collaboration — 20 minutes

The day of the lesson, everyone should bring their bullet points. First, using poster board, a secretary should create a visual list of compiling everyone’s items. The adviser should allow the students to work on this without leading the discussion. It emphasizes ownership from among the students. Once they feel they have a firm list to proceed, it is time discuss.

3. Discussion — 20-40 minutes

Reviewing the list, have students explain meaning and ask why as much as possible. Not to be speculatory, but to ensure they are considering all aspects of what went well or needs improvement. As the discussion continues about what went well, have everyone agree on what they want to carry forward into the next year. Make sure everyone owns this.

The discussion about what needs improvement is next, be leery that it can drag on. Depending on the group dynamics, establishing ground rules for this discussion may be appropriate.

Ground rules examples could be:

  1. You have the one minute to explain a bullet point, and we need to move on
  2. We will not attack people personally, even if they aren’t here now
  3. We must remain professional and look at each issue as an opportunity to improve
  4. Consider your bullet point and what can be learned or improved from bringing this to the group. Students like to air grievances or focus on the details. The adviser and leaders need to help steer the conversation towards productivity, but allow each student a chance to discuss improvement. Again, make sure everyone owns this.

4. Student prep — 15 minutes

For the next class for homework, ask students to think and write down one goal they want to achieve individually as it pertains to their position on staff. It can pertain to learning a new skill (like headline writing) or a personality weakness (I will work on showing my emotions when upset). Anything goes as it relates to their job on the staff.

Also for next class, ask students to write down two goals they want the media staff to achieve this school year. It can pertain to learning a skill (the non-writers need to write a story), or it can be related to culture building (we will write thank you notes to those who have done favors for us), or it can be business-related (we will sell 10% more yearbooks). Anything also goes as long as it relates to the group.

5. Adviser reviews goals — 15-30 minutes (may want to review these while students are doing other tasks)

Using SMART goal strategy, the adviser needs to review what students wrote to ensure these goals are:

  • Specific: instead of “I will get better at photography,” encourage the student to make their goal “I will take a class on photo composition to get better at photography.”
  • Measurable: instead of “We will sell more books,” encourage the students to make their goal “We will sell 50 more books than we sold last year, and we will do so by adding three more marketing strategies to our business plan.”
  • Attainable: instead of “Get more organized” for the student who can’t achieve that, instead could be encouraged to use “Put all my interview notes in my personal folder in the file cabinet so I always know where to find them.”
  • Realistic: instead of “We will make every deadline this year,” when the staff hasn’t made a deadline before, is setting everyone else up for failure as it pertains this goal. If the staff doesn’t make deadlines, they could be encouraged to create the goal “We will make one of our deadlines this year.”
  • Timely: instead of “I will learn all there is about photography in one weekend,” the student could be encouraged to use “I will learn how to use manual mode when shooting photography during the fall semester with our lead photographer or photo editor.”

6. Goal-Building Discussion — 30-45 minutes

After the adviser has reviewed each person’s goals, feedback should be given and SMART goals should be explained to the students. Use examples coming from what the students did for homework to show how we should build REAL goals.

On a new poster board, each student should write their individual goal they are ready to commit to for the year. Leave a circle of space in the middle of the poster board for the team goals.

Have each team member write their own goal and put their name to it.

After all individual goals are all written, then the team needs to collaborate to 1-2 team SMART goal(s) they are collectively ready to commit to for the year. There should be some repetition in grievances from last year, and team goals for this year, that should help make this decision for the team.

After the team goal is decided, discussion should lead to how to make this possible. Consider weaving progress into the infrastructure of the current system. For example, if “every staff member will write one news or feature story for our online site,” then the discussion of how each staff member will do this needs to be part of the discussion.