Your Students Created Their Vision Boards. Now What?

January 08, 2019

Andrea Parker, Ed.D.

Ed.D. in Leadership

The new year is officially in full swing, and what better way to have your students kick it off than by visualizing their short- and long-term goals with vision boards?

Vision boards have long been trendy on Pinterest and around the water cooler at work, but they have a place in schools, too! There’s something about the way students’ eyes light up as they sift through magazines, newspapers and online images to curate their poster boards. There’s something in the way their smiles broaden when the finished product is displayed in the classroom, in the school’s hallways or even just at home; it really motivates them and helps them see that their dreams are possible.

But what happens after the vision board has been posted, the presentation on a student’s prophetic vision is delivered and the compliments are conveyed? What’s the next step? How can we hold students accountable? I’ve found that there are several ways to teach our children the art of planning for their futures.

1. Incorporate SMART Goals into the Vision Boards

Or specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. It may be a good idea to have a vision for them to reach by the end of the school year. Alternatively, if the SMART goal is long-term, the students should have reached a major goal by the school year’s end. Setting SMART guidelines can ensure students aren’t over-extending themselves or undermining their own efforts with visions that are far-fetched or not well thought-out.

2. Create a Vision Board Checklist with Firm Timetables

Having students keep a checklist of specific things to do at certain points will help them track their progress toward their final destination. Students should view their checklist at least once a week to see where they are in reaching their short or long-term goals. Each time they check off a task, they should be able to verbally explain the process, challenges and successes. They will notice if they are not meeting deadlines or if they are ahead of schedule.

3. Have Monthly Check-ins About Vision Board Goals

As a teacher, you essentially act as the adviser. You should analyze their checklist and ask questions, co-monitoring their progress to determine if the final goal needs to be modified or if accommodations need to be made. It’s also up to you to nudge the student to solve their own problems and celebrate their efforts.

4. Bring in Motivational Speakers for Students

Bringing in professionals who are trained to motivate can have a dramatic impact. When I was in middle school, motivational speakers would come to my classroom twice a semester. Their words and the conviction with which they spoke made me feel like I could conquer the world in one day. Hearing their vision and how they prepared for success made me realize, even as a preteen, that these people grew up just like me, some with even more challenges. If they kept up with their vision, then why couldn’t I?

5. Pair Up Peer Partners to Review Vision Boards

Encouraging students to share their visions, ideas and progress among themselves can be helpful, as they really care about what their peers think. This can keep them on task. Having peer partners also affords students the opportunity to share their successes and failures without feeling evaluated by the teacher. Partners can find trends and common distractions in their plans, and they can build meaningful relationships.

6. Celebrate Students Who Follow Their Vision Boards

Nothing makes a child feel more honored and motivated than to be celebrated by teachers in the presence of their peers. When students have reached a milestone, acknowledge that publicly. Awards assemblies, PA announcements, catered lunches, display posters — these are all ways to give credit to those who take their vision to the next step.

Remember: If there is no plan, a vision board is just a cute assignment; a dream. But there is nothing like seeing a dream come true.

Help your students reach their goals while you reach your own. Explore American College of Education’s graduate-level programs in the field of education.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Andrea Parker, Ed.D.
Andrea Parker, Ed.D., Ed.D. in Leadership

Andrea is a National Board Certified Teacher and has been an educator for the Chicago Public School system since 2004. She currently teaches middle school English language arts.

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