At the start of 2024, Microsoft invites you and your students to reflect, express gratitude, and set goals. Use Microsoft Reflect, a Learning Accelerator that helps young people develop social and emotional learning (SEL) skills, to kick off the new year successfully. Establishing clear, measurable, and personal goals can have a substantial effect on people of all ages both inside and outside of the classroom. What was once a 10-minute free-write activity in early January can, with planning and dedication, become a lasting force for change in a person’s life.   

John Hattie’s Visible Learning study measured the impact that different factors have on students’ academic growth. According to the meta-analyses, setting learning goals has a positive impact on learning outcomes. Simply put, when students set goals, they are building lifelong skills that they can use to make positive changes in their lives.  

Harness the power of positive change in your classroom—embark on the journey of transformative goal-setting with Microsoft Reflect today!  

“Setting goals with students informs teacher practice, engages and motivates students during the learning process, and creates a partnership between the teacher, student, and parents.” – Sanée Bell, Ed.D., Educational Leader and Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning in Katy ISD, Texas, United States  

A student looking at their check-in responses in Microsoft Reflect on a laptop, while other students work at their desks in the background.

A student reviewing their Microsoft Reflect check-in responses. Reflect helps drive student engagement and develop social and emotional (SEL) learning skills.

Setting up for success with new year's goals 

Reflect is available as a web app and within Microsoft 365 Education tools like Teams for Education, PowerPoint, and OneNote. You can use any of these platforms to create check-ins for your students. Additionally, Reflect has created a collection of experiences and resources that you can share with your students to transition into a successful 2024. Explore the Reflect Activity Hub for ready-to-use activities, lessons, and materials!  

Student view of a Reflect check-in with five emojis, emotional vocabulary bank, and the round and fuzzy Feelings Monster looking proud with hands on hips and an upward gaze.

Student view of a Reflect check-in. Reflect is available as a web app and within Microsoft 365 Education tools like Teams, PowerPoint, and OneNote. 

Goals vary from person to person and are unique to the individual. Reflect has created several worksheets to help you and your students set goals and practice other positive habits in the new year. Check out the Reflect worksheets—print the PDFs or digitally embed them in a OneNote page distributed to students: 

  • SMART Goal Planner—guide students through setting meaningful goals, breaking them into actionable steps, and monitoring progress to improve planning and perseverance.  
  • Gratitude Clouds—provide students with a structured and meaningful method to practice gratitude, fostering a sense of appreciation, and promoting positive thinking. 
  • Reflect and Grow—goal setting is important in short intervals as well as long ones. By helping students process a day’s events and emotions, they can foster emotional awareness, and enhance communication skills.  

Take a brain break 

According to a 2021 study on the brain's consolidation of skill, resting at set intervals increases a learner’s ability to develop new skills. The study also suggests that the majority of skill learning takes place during “offline,” or non-practice time, and that micro-breaks are 4 times as effective for skill learning than overnight rest. This all means that intentional breaks every 10-15 minutes for elementary students or 20-30 minutes for secondary students can have a significant academic and social impact for learners. 

Reflect has curated a collection of short, inclusive brain break activities designed to promote mental fitness, refresh the mind, and refocus.  

  • Take a breath: Pause for a moment to breathe mindfully and reset focus. 
  • Stretch break: Stretch and boost focus with a quick two-minute stretching routine. 
  • Coloring book: Combine emotional intelligence and art to explore a range of emotions and creativity. 
  • Memory game: Develop emotional vocabulary by matching emotions and with Feelings Monster cards.  

Reflect also partnered with Calm—the leading mental health brand with the #1 app for meditation, sleep, and relaxation—to integrate science-backed content designed to help users meet their new goals of sleeping more, stressing less, and living better. Explore all of the Calm activities in the Reflect app.  

Collection of Calm activities available in Reflect, including Mindful Movement, Balloon Breath, Movement to Build Confidence, and Mindfulness for Ages 14-17.

Microsoft Reflect and Calm have joined together to support wellness. 

For educators and students who want more activities—stories, music, lullabies, exercises, and meditations designed specifically for kids—they can enjoy a 40% discount on a subscription to Calm.  

Explore Reflect’s partner collections 

Reflect has partnered with several of your favorite classroom tools to expand social and emotional learning. Through these partnerships, you and your students can have safe spaces for reflecting, setting goals, and discussing emotions.  

Minecraft Education is a popular immersive learning platform for all young people. Introduce your students to Reflect World, a space designed to help students develop social-emotional skills through a creative and immersive experience. This world is an ideal start for beginner users in upper-elementary or middle school grades. Exploring the colorful Reflect World requires collaboration, problem solving, and communication. 

Reflect teamed up with Kahoot!, a game-based app for learning and trivia games, to help students develop vital SEL skills. With nearly 50 Kahoot! games available in four different languages, you can find the right activities at the right time.  

  • Setting goals: Goal setting is a vital skill. It helps us to stay on track and create the life we dream of! Your students can use Reflect to stay on track with your goals by thinking through the reasons that we set goals and strategies for reaching goals. 
  • Start the school year strong: Don’t let the title fool you. This game is perfect for the return to school in January with questions focusing on classroom community and goal setting. 
  • Gratitude: Gratitude means being filled with appreciation. Your students can show gratitude for the good things in their lives—big or small! Being grateful can help them feel better and build stronger relationships. 

Microsoft Flip, a free web and mobile app for recording, editing, and sharing video assignments, and Reflect pair together perfectly. Using Flip and Reflect together can help students share and discuss feelings and challenges in a safe, accessible, and inclusive environment. With built-in tools like Immersive Reader, designed to make all written text accessible, all students can engage in the conversation. Start off with these discussion topics: 

  • Taking on challenges: Help students understand that challenges are a part of the path to excellence. Framing challenges as part of the process can keep them motivated and set them up to encourage each other through complicated tasks.  
  • Kindness for myselfUse this topic to jumpstart conversations about growth mindset or accepting feedback. It could be a helpful warm-up for a writing workshop where students edit one another's work. Setting students up to accept and mobilize feedback without feeling down about themselves is vital to establishing perseverance. 
  • Working towards a goal: Use this topic before having students write their own goals. It can jumpstart their understanding of why goals are important and what types of goals they could consider, as well as get them thinking about how working towards a goal is an ongoing effort. Often, we write down or set goals mentally, but don't follow through. Having students recognize that problem through role play can help them recognize it in themselves!  

Teacher view of the “Working towards a goal” discussion topic in Flip, showing topic details and the round and fuzzy Feelings Monster.

Teacher view of the “Working towards a goal” discussion topic from Flip and Reflect which explores why goals are important and the types of goals to be considered. 

Join Microsoft Education in fostering a positive beginning to the new year for you and your students. Reflect brings together an array of resources and experiences, supporting the cultivation of healthy habits and a dedication to personal growth. Explore the Reflect Activity Hub for ready-to-use activities, lessons, and materials and build a culture of well-being with your students this year.