Goal setting is an important skill for all teachers to learn. It supports continuous growth in your practice, it supports consistency in your lessons, and, ultimately, it helps students succeed.
If done well, your practice will never plateau. Once you implement successful goal setting strategies, your ability to reflect on your teaching will improve. You will go from knowing a lesson was a complete flop to understanding why your lesson was a complete flop.
A huge mistake teachers make is comparing themselves to other teachers. Everyone has a different teaching story. You cannot let your self believe that you are an expert in every situation. We can always improve, we can always learn, and we can always change our story.
You need to let yourself grow. Teaching is a practice. You keep getting better as you learn from new experiences and new classrooms. It is OKAY to ask for help. It is OKAY to admit you do not have all the answers.
Goal planning will help you grow. It will support you in gaining the answers to your questions.
Like you do so well for your students, set goals for yourself: Weekly Goals, Term Goals, and an Annual Goal. Write them down. You do not have to share them. Make sure all your goals are SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
SMART goals support professional growth. Providing parameters to your goals allows you to easily track them, assess how you are doing towards reaching your goals, and understand what is working well and what you may need to tweak.
Your goals are the foundation of your development. It is important to have goals and to easily work towards achieving your goals. Your goals are built on what you know you do well and where you want to go. They give structure to your practice and put consistency in your teaching.
Your goals are built by first acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses, then honestly assessing where you are now and deciding where you want to be tomorrow; a well-defined tomorrow, that is.
Year End Goal Where do you want to be at the end of the year (or desired time frame)? Pick a time frame that is achievable for the size of your goal. Remember your SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely.
Half Year Goal What is the last obstacle you must cross before you achieve your End Goal? This is subjective, but what do you feel is the last major hurdle you need to cross before you hit the home stretch? This last obstacle is your Halfway Goal. It should be substantial, but after crossing it you have a clear view of the finish line. Again, keep your SMART goals in mind.
Year Start Goal What is the last obstacle you must cross before you achieve your Halfway Goal? Again, this is subjective. What is that obstacle that once checked off your list, leaves your Halfway Goal in clear sight? This is your Start Goal. We use backward chaining to identify our largest goals: End Goal, Halfway Goal, Start Goal. Next, let’s reverse gears and look at forward chaining.
Mini-Goals aka ‘the reminders’
When reflecting on the Start Goal, Halfway Goal, and Annual Goal, you need to have a clear focus on how you will achieve these goals. Weekly Goals act as consistent reminders to act on your goals.
You need to keep yourself accountable in order to achieve your goals, and the purpose of these little goals is to do just that.
Most of these repeat week after week, and you may need to add, change, or delete some of them as you go.
Now What??? Now, you know about: • The Year End Goal • The Half Year Goal • The Year Start Goal • The Mini-Goals But, how do you stay focused on the short-term large goals? Do you need to keep focused on the Annual Goal? Of course, but if you align your Start Goal and your Halfway Goal to your Annual Goal, you will always be on-course to attain your end goal, the Annual Goal.
Clear as mud? Hopefully not, but I hope when you grab a pen and get planning your goals, you can see how all of this comes together to create an easy to follow tracking system for your goals.