Teaching Opinion

Fostering SMART Goals for the New Year

By Starr Sackstein — September 10, 2017 2 min read
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With the whirlwind of another school year beginning, it’s incumbent upon me (and those in education in every role) to set goals in order to focus and grow professionally.

As a reflective educator, setting SMART goals and charting a path to follow has helped me become better for kids.

These goals have always been a product of my own choosing, not because they were required, but because setting goals (like I teach students to do) is a good way to focus learning and track progress in a meaningful way in reasonable bites.

Since this has always been an expectation I have had with students, I try to model the behaviors, sharing my goals transparently and then discussing my reflections and progress as we go.

When setting goals, I remind students that they need to be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

Sometimes goals can be too vague and therefore aren’t really focused or hard to measure. Additionally, when we go big, quickly, we run the risk of setting a goal that isn’t attainable and therefore outside the realm of what we want for this activity.

We want our goals to be personally relevant, so we want to reach them and they need to be able to be done in a fixed amount of time. However, that isn’t to say that if we accomplish a goal early, upon reflection it would make sense to set a new goal and continue moving forward.

This year I have many goals, but I’ve narrowed it down to two for the launch of the year:

  1. Build trusting, respectful relationships with faculty and students that demonstrate an understanding of the culture as it stands now and promotes a shared vision for the future.
  2. To be patient with myself as these new relationships are being forged, understanding that despite my passion to move forward, it isn’t about me.

In order to make sure these are reached, I will be visible in all of the school buildings of the teachers I work with, visiting classrooms regularly, so as not to feel punitive, but inclusive. I will initiate conversations with staff to learn about their interests and goals, by asking a lot of questions until I truly comprehend their viewpoints. I will reflect regularly on those conversations and demonstrate my understanding by sharing own experiences only as they relate and transparently going through the process with the team.

Collaboration is the only way change is going to happen, but I’m the newbie on the block now. It’s time to really learn from the expertise of those around me and that is a part of learning plan.

So my goals are specific, measurable (I will be able to see how many relationships I forge by the end of the year and ask for feedback along the way to make sure my perception is the same as those around me), attainable, relevant, and timely.

My doors will always be open and I will always be reachable to begin to develop those meaningful collaborative relationships. How else can we grow together for the benefit of our kids?

What are your goals for this school year? Please share.

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.