As an SLP I am very familiar with writing goals in a treatment plan or an IEP. Goals are long-term, establish the path forward, set priorities, and with incremental objectives, lay out the leading toward goal achievement. I think of the goals I write as a contract, laying out what will be addressed and the outcomes that are expected.
We use visual supports with children including token boards, first/then, contingency maps, and min-schedules to help them participate and invest in their own short-term goals involving completing tasks or managing their behavior. These are like contracts too, and we know they make a huge difference. They motivate and provide a sense of accomplishment. Not only because they help the child understand expectations and potential rewards, but also because we obtain the child’s buy-in by including him or her in developing the terms of the “contract” in front of them.
What about explicitly including children in developing and investing in their long-term goals through contracts as well? I can remember sitting across a horseshoe table from a group of students in a speech/language group and asking, “why are you here?” Not a single one of them had any idea. I can’t expect them to be motivated toward achieving goals they are not even aware of. I don’t accomplish much when I don’t know what I am trying to accomplish either! It makes sense to include each child in understanding and buying into some long-term goals, with understanding being key to buying in.
Every student receiving SLP services should know why. Motivate them with active participation in setting and achieving goals to improve their communication skills.