The Developmental Guides can be used to establish a child’s developmental progress within a particular emotional/social domain and determine whether the child is behaving in a way which is characteristic of their age. Teaching staff can identify which behaviours a child is failing to demonstrate and what they would like to improve. Using this information they can set a goal for the child, based on what would be expected to happen next in typical development.
The goal setting process involves the following stages:
- Determine the emotional/social area(s) that the pupil struggles with.
- Prioritise the most important area(s) for development.
- Establish the pupil’s current level of development using the relevant developmental guide.
- Set a general objective.
- Set a SMART goal.
Pupil A, aged 10, does not deal with new or challenging situations appropriately and will often ‘fly’ from the situation (i.e. fight or flight response). For example, when he finds a piece of work too difficult he runs out of the classroom, rather than asking for help.
Area of need: Coping/self-awareness/self-control. Staff decide that coping is the priority area.
Pupil’s current level of development: Using the coping guide, staff find that by age 10 children should be able to deploy appropriate behavioural strategies that help to cope with stressors. Pupil A is failing to do this indicating that his coping behaviours are at an earlier stage of development than his chronological age.
Objective: For Pupil A to use behavioural strategies which allow him to deal with challenging situations more effectively.
SMART goal: Pupil A uses an appropriate signal to ask for help (e.g. raises his hand, puts a card on the table) in 50% of occasions that he struggles with work in the classroom. He has a visual cue on his desk to remind him to do this.
Staff feel that Pupil B, aged 9, does not have a secure self-concept. He cannot identify any of his own personality attributes when asked to.
Area of need: self-concept
Current level of development: Staff use the self-concept guide and find in middle childhood children should be beginning to define themselves in terms of psychological attributes. Pupil B uses concrete and observable traits to define himself, which is characteristic of early childhood.
Objective: For Pupil B to develop his self-concept.
SMART goal: Pupil B identifies 5 different personality traits which he possesses when asked by staff. To be achieved by the end of term.
A plan is then devised to facilitate the pupil to achieve the goal. This is reviewed on an agreed date.
Please note that due to the nature of attachment and the attachment guide, this guide is not suitable for setting goals for pupils. Instead it provides a theoretical overview and explains why attachment underpins so much of our emotional and social development.
The Fagus process is compatible with any goal setting system. One useful method for setting goals is Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) (Kiresuk and Sherman, 1968).