Monday, August 3, 2015

Setting Goals

“Daddy, do you want to jump through this hoop?” This is a question my daughter asked me and of course I had to take a couple of pictures!  Besides it being a very cute moment, it reminded me of a comment I heard from one of my friends regarding his goal setting and performance review.  He stated that it is a process of “jumping through hoops” and completing paperwork.  My friend is not an educator but his comments generated a question for me:  How many educators feel the same way?  My guess… there might be a few.

August is the time when many educators start considering goals for the new school year, while having goal setting meetings with their administrators in September.  Goal-Setting for Teachers: 8 Paths for Self-Improvement via @cultofpedagogy is a great read to get you started.  If educators (or anyone in a goal setting profession) feel that setting goals is a process of “jumping through hoops” then the following list of suggestions might help to enhance and change your mindset towards sustaining professional growth:

Be intentional:  The key to a successful goal is to take ownership for that goal rather than viewing the process as an evaluation requirement.  Avoid setting goals that you are already close to achieving.  Set a goal that will support your professional growth and stretch your learning, taking your performance to the next level. 

Make it Motivating:  Build lasting motivation through self-efficacy.  A person with high self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one's own motivation, behavior, and social environment.  They understand that hard work supports success and adjusting direction is essential if obstacles get in the way of their goals.  People with high self-efficacy will choose their attitude by reacting to obstacles as an opportunity to grow. Make sure the goal is something you want to accomplish, not just something that sounds good.  Set goals to motivate and challenge you and your students throughout the school year! 

Exhibit a Growth Mindset:  What is your mindset?  Are you “jumping through hoops” to meet an evaluation requirement or are you focused on professional growth that will take your professional craft to a new level?  Only you can establish your attitude about goal setting.

Narrow the Focus:  Don’t bite off more than you can chew!  Taking on too many goals can be overwhelming and stepping out of your “comfort zone” to establish a goal may be scary.  Set small attainable goals to reach the ultimate goal.  Take on the SMART philosophy of goal setting:  Make sure goals are Strategic/Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rigorous/Relevant/Result Oriented, and Time Bound.  

Set an Action Plan and Partner up:  Utilize the “buddy system” to hold each other accountable for your goals.  Write your goals out in complete detail.  Set up regular meetings with a trusted colleague who can support your professional growth initiatives, keeping track of your progress, while celebrating your accomplishments throughout the year.  

Understand that mistakes are part of learning:  Teachers and principals alike need to understand that thinking “outside the box” when establishing goals might result in a few mistakes.  If we continue to do the same thing then we will continue to get the same results.  If we notice something not working then we need to adjust.  It is also important to have a trusting relationship with our administrator where taking risks and trying a new approach is encouraged.  Setting goals and trying new strategies, while demonstrating an enthusiastic approach to our goal setting process and profession, will enhance the quality of our experience and most importantly the quality of our learning culture.  

Last but not least... Embark on your goal setting with a basic question:  Is it good for children?

I always enjoy the start of a new school year!  Try not to “jump through hoops” and always look at goal setting as an opportunity to grow and have honest self-reflection as an educator.  Enjoy setting and sustaining your goals throughout the school year.