Before you help your students make big plans for the year ahead take some time to focus on your own goals.
We often start the new year by setting goals and resolutions, don’t we?
Make more effort to catch up with friends.
Stop using the ‘floordrobe’ and hang your clothes every day.
Once we get started it can be hard to stop!
But how often do you set professional goals for the year?
Now don’t groan and roll your eyes at me young lady! I’m not talking about goals like getting your attendance in on time or getting to work half an hour early. I’m talking about your professional life, your ambition to improve your teaching, to stay inspired, and to feel confident in your skills and abilities as an educator.
Have you given these any thought? Probably not. And that’s ok because these things are easy to forget when we get into the rush of back to school time when planning and prep are your priority. I get it. So, let’s look at this now before we get on the crazy train.
Why setting professional goals is important
“If it’s not challenging you, it’s not changing you.” Rachel Hollis
Every day in teaching is different, that’s for sure, so why does every day feel like Groundhog Day? Why does it feel like you’re just going through the motions and when you get to the end of the week, term or year, you know you’ll just do it all again the same next year?
I’ll tell you – because it is! You know what needs to be done and you go to work, and you do it. Isn’t that what working is?
Well, yes and no.
Of course, you’ll have routine actions and behaviours, and the routine can be comforting, but without new challenges you’re always going to be heading in the same direction taking the same journey over again every year.
Setting new challenges, or goals, can add new ‘scenery’ and attractions to your journey, you can stop off and take in the view from new vantage points.
What do Professional Goals look like?
Setting goals for your professional life is a little different to making new year’s resolutions for yourself.
Scholastic.com created a list of goals for teachers in 2020. This list has lots of great ideas on it but the one I’m really interested in is Improve Your Skills. Yes, the others are all professional goals too but they’re more focused on your students rather than you and your professional needs. Teachers are life-long learners but while we plan a curriculum for our students, we often forget to do our own.
Ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down your professional goals for 2021:
What areas of teaching do I need to improve on?
This could be new skills, new technology, or improving your knowledge in a subject area. While PD in the subjects we love is more appealing, if we’re really going to kick some career goals we also need to work on our weaknesses.
Which one of these areas really truly inspires me?
Choose the one that stands out the most to you. Which one lights your fire? You’ll be more likely to stick at it if you’re genuinely interested.
How will this improve, inspire, re-ignite my teaching?
Make sure it’s something that will really impact your professional life. There’s no point doing further training unless it’s useful.
Once you’ve determined what your professional goals are for the year it’s time to make a plan that you can stick to. How often do we teach our class to set SMART goals? I’m not going to ask you to do that because I don’t think an acronym is needed here. What I am going to do is just list 6 key points to take into consideration when planning your professional goals for 2021
Growth – Do your goals lead to professional growth?
Relevance – Are your goals relevant to teaching and learning?
Aspirations – Are your goals pushing you professionally and do they set an high achievement standard for your teaching?
Career Focus – Are your goals centred on your teaching career?
Improvement – Will achieving your goals genuinely improve your teaching?
Excellence – Do your goals inspire professional excellence?
Woops I’ve accidentally created an acronym with my daughter’s name!
Setting professional goals for yourself is just as important as setting personal ones. To make it easier we’ve created a goal planning worksheet that’s available for download here. It’s nothing too onerous just a few prompts to get you started.
Whatever your goals for 2021 we wish you all the best for the year ahead and hope it’s one of success, both professionally and personally.
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