Back to School Basics: Gooooooaaaaaaaallllllll!

With the gusto of soccer announcer Andrés Cantor, you need to celebrate your goals. Well, maybe before we start dancing in the streets, let’s back up a second and think about your goals. Sure, you can come up with all sorts of lofty goals as to why you’re a teacher: I want to impact the future. I want to be the reason a child becomes great. I want to create lifelong learners. That fluff-stuff is for your Philosophy of Education that you have to submit with your resume to get the job. But, now you’re hired, here, and ready to start off a new school year that may include new faces or new places.

In Teach, Reflect, Learn, Hall and Simeral (2015, ASCD) argue, “With so many professional responsibilities determined for us in education […], it is essential to our continued growth – not to mention our sanity – to have some semblance of ownership over our own development.” Do you even know what you want to do beyond pure survival? Setting goals outside of curriculum maps and mastery levels can keep you focused on your mission to, as Ghandi so eloquently put it, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” or whatever quote you pulled into your philosophy statement back in college.

Set one attainable goal in each of these areas outside of academics: student social-emotional well-being, professional practice, and personal balance. Here are some reflection questions to get you through goal setting:

Student Social-Emotional Well-Being

  • How will I make time to get to know my students?
  • How will I establish my room as a safe place for students both physically and emotionally?
  • What can I do to show students that I care?
  • What normative beliefs can I promote for respect, integrity, and kindness?
  • Research shows that one caring adult makes a big difference in the success of a child. How will I be that adult for a child who needs me?

Professional Practice

  • What topics do I want to attend training on?
  • Do I want to further my education and seek another degree or certification?
  • What new skill do I want to try? How will I learn the skill, observe the skill, or try the skill?
  • What professional books do I want to read?
  • Can I access a peer coach, instructional partner, or mentoring teacher?
  • What Professional Learning Communities do I have access to within my school or district?
  • How can I connect with other education professionals on social media?

Personal Balance

  • What projects around the house do I want to complete?
  • Do I have any fitness goals that I can work towards?
  • Is there a vacation that I am longing for?
  • How will I make time for my family and friends?
  • What limits will I set to not overwhelm myself with work while I am at home?

Remember, set goals that you can reach. They can small goals, such as, “Paint the bathroom over Fall Break” or tall goals, “Enroll in a Master’s program at a local university.”  Either way, you have to have a plan for reaching them. You can download many goal templates (I’m a fan of the SMART plan: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound) or simply write your goal on a sticky note. Choose what you are working for, and then go out there and get it. Pick a reward that you will celebrate with – even if it’s just jumping up and down in your classroom and screaming at the top of your lungs, “GOOOOOoooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!”

Leigh Anne Kraemer-Naser
Leigh Anne has experience as a Middle School and Early Childhood educator in multi-age and traditional classrooms. She obtained a BA in Elementary Education from Mercyhurst University in addition to an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Gannon University where she also served an adjunct lecturer specializing in portfolio development.

Leigh Anne served as the Director of Curriculum and Programming for The Ophelia Project where she authored original curriculum on school climate and bullying prevention. Currently, she is the owner and director of Curriculum Solution Center which provides quality professional development and curriculum consultation services for PreK-12 schools. She also is a webinar leader and ambassador for Simple K12 Teacher Learning Community and a Professional
Devleopment Specialist for the Council for Professional Recognition.