‘Just keep writing as much as you can Katie. This will help you to learn more new English words.’
‘Katie should work on using full sentences when speaking English, this is very important to avoid miscommunication. I suggest that each day until our next lesson, she writes a sentence in Chinese and then translates it into English.’
Above are two examples of targets that Buddies have left for Breadies in their lesson reviews. Can you spot the difference between the two?
What are targets and why do we need them?
A target can be defined as an objective or result towards which efforts are directed.
Targets give us a reason to propel forward; whether that be in our personal lives or our professional lives, they give us the direction and focus to achieve our desired goals.
Working towards goals is something we thrive on as human beings. Let’s face it though, most of us are rubbish at goal setting. Our personal targets often fail to have a specific or clear focus; meaning we have a hard time achieving them. This is because our goals tend to be broad and generic, resulting in distractions and eventual failures. Consider the amount of failed New Year’s resolutions!
How are we at setting targets for other people though? As an IQBar Buddy, you are required to complete a written review after each lesson. Within each review, it is imperative to set targets for your Breadies so that they can progress in their learning. However, it’s easier said than done. How many of us have received any formal training on target setting? I’m guessing that’s very few of us.
Therefore, this blog will introduce SMART targets: an effective approach to providing your Breadies with clear, concise and constructive targets.
What are SMART targets?
SMART is an acronym that can be used to set Buddies effective and achievable goals. Each letter represents a specific purpose that every target should serve for it to be attainable.
S – Specific M – Measurable A – Achievable R – Relevant T – Time-Bound
Make sure the target is defined with a clear focus.
Know if the target is obtainable and how far away completion will be.
The target needs to be attainable to be successful. Ask yourself how realistic the target is by taking into consideration the factors that could affect the Bready from achieving it (e.g. time, resources, etc.)
Make sure that the target matters and that it is relevant to the Bready in order to ensure progress.
Make sure to set the Bready enough time to achieve the target – but not too much time as it may affect their performance.
Why are SMART targets important?
SMART is an effective tool which provides the clarity, focus and motivation that a Bready needs to reach their goals and improve in their language skills. You must ensure that the targets you set for each Bready are clear and thorough, as this shows that you have carefully assessed their abilities, as well as their weaknesses. As mentioned previously, general targets can be very broad and therefore hard to achieve. SMART targets, however, ensure progress and maximum results, as each letter serves as a guideline to practical target setting.
Let’s look at some examples:
‘Jamie needs to read more so that he can become more familiar with tenses.’
At first glance this might seem like a great target: it provides the Bready with a very simple instruction. However, when we analyse this in terms of SMART target setting, we realise that it could do with some improvement.
[Specific]: Firstly, the target lacks specificity. What exactly should the Bready read? And what particular tenses should he focus on?
[Measurable]: The target is not measurable as no time period has been stated. Exactly how much is ‘more’? This has not been made clear which can result in confusion for the Bready.
[Achievable]: This links to the previous point, it is hard to achieve something when it cannot be measured. Make sure the target is attainable and realistic by considering the Breadies personal circumstances.
[Relevant]: Once the target becomes more specific; it will become clear why it is relevant to the Bready.
[Time-Bound]: As noted previously, this target does not specify a time, which means the Bready is more likely to go off track, lose focus, and therefore, fail to meet their target.
Taking these points into consideration, a better target might look like this:
‘Jamie struggled with past tense forms. Therefore, he should practice changing from past to present tense. I would like him to write 4 sentences: 2 in present tense and 2 in the past tense. Once he has written them, I would like him to change each sentence to the opposite tense. Please complete this before your next lesson.’
[Specific]: Here, the tenses that the Bready should focus on have been specified, as well the number of sentences they are required to write.
[Measurable]: The target is measurable as the Bready has been given enough time to produce a reasonable amount of work.
[Achievable]: The target is achievable as it challenges the Bready, but not to the point where completion is unlikely.
[Relevant]: The conciseness of the target makes it clear to the Bready why it is relevant to them, and how it will ensure progress.
[Time-Bound]: The target specifies that it should be completed by the next lesson, therefore allowing the Bready to complete their target in an achievable time frame that will increase their confidence moving forward.
Taking the time out to be SMART with your target setting shows that your reviews are personalised to each and every Breadies needs. Not only are SMART targets essential for encouraging home practice, but they are also beneficial to parents as they can gain an understanding of their child’s progression with IQBar.
What do you think?
So, looking back to the start of this blog, can you now see the difference between the two example targets? If so, what is SMART about the second example? Let us know what you think on our social media. And if you have any more examples or tips for writing successful targets, send them over too!