Short-Term Goal Setting… On and Off the Field

Name: Richie Hurley, Joel Censer

Organization: Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership (P. S. 149 Boys)

Date: August 22, 2018

SEL Competency: Growth Mindset

Driver of Focus: Goal-Oriented/Mastery-Based Experiences

Cohort Demographics: Middle School


HL P.S. 149 identified an opportunity to support students’ academic growth through short-term goal setting, action planning, and reflection. Staff leverage their strong relationships with students and opportunities to reinforce goal setting on the Lacrosse field. Students demonstrated improvement in growth mindset and achieved short-term academic goals.



  • Ongoing throughout the school year.
  • Goal setting check-ins were conducted during extended learning times on Friday at the end of school for 90 minutes per week.
  • Students received adhoc 2 minute one-on-one check-ins with the Program Director.


  • A central, accessible room in a one-floor school that has lacrosse gear on the walls (a central, accessible room).
  • 35 consistent players.


Weekly on Friday after progress report release, students would visit extended learning time. Students share progress reports with the Program Director and received targeted support based on the report.

For a student that is not on track, the Program Director supports the student in identifying missing homework other plans that could help raise the students’ grade by a small, accessible amount. The Program Director writes the goal on the students’ report and challenges the student to go get the missing homework or other work to be completed during the remaining time.

The following week, the same process occurs and small successes are recognized and celebrated.


  • To demonstrate that with goals and planning results can be achieved.
  • To support students in identifying short-term goals and planning for progress to achieve those goals.
  • To build in intrinsic motivation – cultivated through mentorship and goal-setting with the Program Director.
  • To address and support the emotional state of students following receiving a progress report.


Based on Network-Wide SEL Survey Analysis, Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership at PS 149 Boys cohort was identified by Research Alliance for NYC Schools as one of 18 Bright Spots; meaning they had a greater positive effect on youth SEL compared to sites that serve similar students across the Network. The chart shows the change in the percentage of youth responding positively to Survey questions related to Growth Mindset.


  • Reinforce goal-setting, action plans, demonstrating progress, and celebration of small wins in non-academic activities. Harlem Lacrosse does this during lacrosse drills.
  • Utilize demonstrated progress in non-academic activities to explicitly reinforce that students can learn and improve in nacademic subjects (writing, math, etc.)
  • Focus on building strong relationships and buy-in with students before engaging in goal-setting. Consistency in staff response to students (providing resources and incentives for overcoming challenges, praise for success) fosters trust.
  • Coordinate with school administration and teachers to access academic progress data and feasible/appropriate action plans.

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Stefano Barros

Stefano believes that one of the best ways to develop young leaders is through community building in youth-centered spaces. This is the driving force behind his focus on strengthening SSN’s reservoir of resources through collaborative learning and research. Stefano joined the team after holding college access and youth leadership development roles in Boston and New York City.

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