Next 365: Goal Setting

Yesterday I wrote a blog on reflection and was thrilled, and humbled, at the feedback I received. THANK YOU.  One common piece of feedback was, “once we reflect what are some steps to create goals for next school year.”  I enjoy getting this type of feedback or having these discussions because that is how I try to frame this blog. I try to take real time questions and just write about it.

I believe in reflection and then setting goals will give you long-term vision and short-term motivation to reach them. Goal setting focuses our learning and assists us to organize time and resources to reach goals efficiently.

By setting high, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the process and then the achievement of those goals. Seeing forward progress helps in the motivation stage and for you to keep at it (even when the going gets tough). Seeing the small wins as you work toward your goals will give you the self-confidence to recognize your own ability in achieving the goals that you’ve set.

Below are some key aspects I think you can take when writing your goals?

1. Reflect: The only way we can reasonably decide what we want in the future and how we’ll get there is to know where we are right now and what our current level of practice is. Click here to check out the blog on 6/21 to read more about step 1: reflection.

2. Identify your dreams and turn them into goals: We often say, “I wish I did that” after the fact.  Well do it NOW. Think about what really thrills you as a teacher/leader.  Write down all your dreams for next year. Don’t think of any as too “far-fetched”, just do it as a starting point. What is the classroom you dreamed of teaching in? Or the teacher you want to be? Dreams are not wishful thinking, they are the core for developing pathways and thinking tactics (strategic planning). Dreams are the belief that things can get better and is the foundation upon which motivation is built.  Dreams are a critical first step to identify goals and develop strategies. Those dreams will turn into motivation and then turn into action when you build goals and actions.

3. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T: The acronym S.M.A.R.T. means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.  This has been said and used in many districts across the country or in other professions. Nothing new here, I didn’t develop this, but it fits into step 3.  As I said, I didn’t develop this – but SMART GOALS is another one of the many “buzz words” in education and I will add the background to define this buzz word. In addition, writing a goal is just one step, adding actions and timeline is important for accountability.

Specific: Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you are going to do.  Specific is the What, Why, and How of the S.M.A.R.T. model.

Measurable: Goals should be measurable so that you have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal.

Attainable:  Goals should be achievable; they should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but defined well enough so that you can achieve them. You can meet most any goal when you plan your steps wisely and establish a timeframe that allows you to carry out those steps.

Results-focused: Goals should measure outcomes, not activities.

Time-bound:  Goals should be linked to a timeframe.

As you read in the reflection blog on 6/21, I like to use questioning to define answers to the self-reflection process.  Here are some questions to help organize your thinking around your own goals.

  • Specific. What will the goal accomplish? How and why will it be accomplished?
  • Measurable. How will you measure whether the goal has been reached?
  • Attainable. Is it possible? Do you have the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities, and resources to accomplish the goal? Will meeting the goal challenge you.
  • Results-focused. What is the reason, purpose, or benefit of accomplishing the goal? What is the result (not activities leading up to the result) of the goal?
  • Time-bound. What is the established completion date?

I like to use this chart to document my goals and build into them a timeline and how I am going to evaluate them….. bring on step 4.

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 11.07.52 AM

4. Monitor your progress: Once you know what the goal(s) will be, you should begin to build action steps. But these actions and goals can be just like a gym membership (nice to have but not worth anything if you don’t use it) without accountability.  When you document and track progress, you can hold yourself accountable by reflecting on the progress. The process of achieving a goal must include accountability. I would even recommend having a critical friend be part of your accountability to get feedback and often when you share your goals, you are more motivated to reach them.

I think these four steps will help in writing goals and build off the blog on reflection. Although I only discussed 4 steps, a lot of thinking and processing go into them.  A few mini steps I want to mention for your support during the four-step process.  

 Celebrate Success: Focus more on what you are doing right rather than what you did wrong. Take time to celebrate the effort and success.

Learn What Is Most Important to You: I think this piece is important when designing a goal because we often fill time with things that are important but aren’t aligned with our goals. If you detail what is important to you, you set goals to ensure that you keep the main point part of your action steps.

Develop a Supportive PLN: When you are working to reach your goals, having a supportive professional learning network (PLN) can really help you to reach your goals. Having people who can support you and cheer you on as you progress can help you to feel better when you struggle with an action step.

I try not to just write, but use this blog as my own reflection and motivation as I share. It would not serve me well to write about goals and reflection if I did not do it along the way.  At this point in my process, the reflection is not fully underway and the process to write goals in not complete. However, once it is – I will share (#futureblog).  I know a few ideas I hope to make more than an idea in the next 365 days and into turn them into SMART goals:

  • Run effective summer PD
  • Develop high level sessions for MassCUE, ACTEM, and FETC
  • Exercise more (more accurate – start exercising)
  • Blog once a week
  • Write a book


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