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Goal Setting for Teachers for the New School Year

As a teacher, you constantly help your students work towards their learning goals and targets. But have you ever stopped to think about how important it is for you to set goals for yourself, too? Goal setting for teachers will help you determine which professional goals you want to focus your efforts on for the new school year.

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The Importance of Goal Setting for Teachers

As educators, it’s important to continue learning and looking for ways to grow in your teaching practice. However, it’s easy for teachers to take on too many goals at one time! It’s important that you narrow your focus.

By narrowing your focus, you can make real progress toward a goal. Just like you teach one lesson at a time, so students can truly master it, your goals should be narrow to allow you room to focus and grow.

Creating a Goal

At the end of the school year, I recommend doing an end of year reflection to think back on the challenges you faced, the wins you had in the classroom, and the areas you want to improve on next school year. This reflection is a great way to determine the areas in which you want to grow and improve.

However, goal setting for teachers is still possible even if you didn’t do a reflection at the end of the year. Instead, think back on last school year. Did your principal offer any feedback? Was there a particular struggle that sticks out? Are there any new strategies you are excited about?

You may also get an idea for a goal when attending summer or back to school PD. During a session, you might learn about a new teaching tool you want to focus on or dive into a particular struggle students have that you want to help them overcome.

Why Goal Setting in the Summer is Effective

Summer is definitely a time to rest, relax, and unplug from school. However, it’s still a great time to think about your professional goals for next school year.

During the school year, it can be hard to sit down, reflect, and think about the areas you want to grow in. Your mind is going a mile and minute, and your time is limited.

In the summer, you have more time and mental space to think about the goals you want to work towards. You also can focus on getting specific on your goals. There’s a difference between saying, “I want to be a better reading teacher” and “I want to implement literacy centers in order to improve as a reading teacher.” The second option is specific and states exactly what it is you want to learn and focus on. 

Additionally, you have more time to research, learn, and dive into professional development. You actually have time to consume information that relates to your goal without distraction.

Goal setting is also effective in the summer because you have time to prep the materials you may need to achieve the goal. In the example of the literacy centers, you can actually take the time to learn what you’ll need, find the literacy centers you want to use, and prepare them ahead of time for the year.

Goal Setting Ideas for Teachers

When setting goals, you want to make sure they are SMART goals. This means they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based. By setting SMART goals, you’ll be able to get specific and create an action plan that’s in line with your timeline and what you want to achieve.

In the list below, I’m sharing some of my favorite goal-setting ideas for teachers. I’m also including an example SMART goal for each one. These are some of the most common topics that I hear from teachers that they want to improve on.

Increasing Classroom Organization

If you struggle with organizing your classroom, this might be the best goal for you. With this goal, you can focus on how organization impacts classroom learning and behavior. This could also be a small goal that gets you started at the beginning of the year, but you don’t have to focus your entire year on it.

Example SMART Goal: Organize all of my manipulatives and classroom supplies into labeled totes before I report back to school in August.

Improving Classroom Management

Classroom management is on every teacher's mind during back to school. Even if you’ve been teaching for twenty years, you know that every year is different, and it can be a challenge to predict what classroom management strategies will work for this particular group.

Instead of trying to figure out the entire school year, set a goal for how you will knock off classroom management with students or conquer a particular part of the day, like dismissal.

Example SMART Goal: Establish 5 main classroom rules, and plan and prep for a mini-lesson to explicitly teach them on the 2nd day of school.

Focusing on Relationship and Community Building

Relationships are the backbone of every successful school year. However, building relationships can take time. You can set a goal for how you will build relationships with your students or how you will maintain those relationships throughout the year.

Example SMART Goal: Choose 3 classroom community building strategies and implement them during the first week of school.

Setting up and Implementing Centers

Getting kindergarten students to be successful in centers takes a lot of time! With this goal, you can decide how you will implement centers, what your year-long goal for centers will be, or how you will make centers easier for you. 

Example SMART Goal: Print, prep, and organize math and literacy centers into labeled baggies for the entire year before I report back to school in August.

writing prompts for kindergarten

Improving Writing Instruction

The longer you teach, the more strategies and tools you can implement in your classroom. Maybe this year, you set a goal for where students will be out throughout the year with their writing skills. Perhaps you also determine what new writing activities you will implement, like interactive writing prompts and writing centers.

Example SMART Goal: Plan a daily directed drawing activity for our writing lessons for the first month of school.

Morning tub activities for kindergarten that you can prep ahead of time

Establishing a Morning Routine

If your morning routine has been a bit chaotic in the past or super time-consuming to plan, this is a great goal. You can set a goal to implement a new morning routine, like using morning tubs.

Example SMART Goal: Prep and store a Back to School set of morning work activities for students to complete each day during the first month of school.

Tracking Your Progress

After you’ve completed some goal setting for teachers, you want to track your progress and check-in with yourself frequently in order to achieve your goal.

This is where the Measurable and Time-Based portion of the SMART goals come in. You want to be able to measure your progress and give yourself a deadline for when you’ll accomplish the goal. If you don’t set a deadline, you may fall victim to procrastination and constantly putting your goal on the back burner.

Make sure you write your SMART goal down so you know exactly what it is you want to achieve. You can even write it in a journal so you can take notes, make to-do lists, and track your progress toward your goal.

Another way to ensure you’re moving forward on your goal (and to make it a little more fun) is to get an accountability partner! Maybe your team teacher wants to also implement centers next year. Check-in with each other on how the prepping is going. You can even get together over the summer to print, laminate, and prep.

Is there another teacher in your building that has a great morning routine? Pick their brain over the summer and ask them for their best advice. Tell them the goal you’re working towards. Ask them to hold you accountable by checking in with you once or twice over the summer.

Lastly, you don’t have to be perfect. It is summer, and you shouldn’t be spending every day thinking about your goals for next year or working on school tasks. Give yourself grace, adjust your plans if needed, and keep moving forward.

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