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August, 2011: Setting Goals for the Coming Year

Yours, Mine and Ours: Setting Goals for the Year

Amanda Pogany

One of the most exciting things about beginning a new school year is the range of possibilities that are available to you.  What kind of teacher are you right now?  Who do you want to be this year?  What do you hope to accomplish?  How will this year look different from last year?  And most importantly, what is your plan for getting there?!  You can ask the same questions about your students.  Who are they when they walk into your room on day one, and who will they be when they leave you in June?  It is both exciting and important to set goals for yourself and to give your students the opportunity to do so for themselves.  Below are some suggestions and reminders for goal setting.  Remember- make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T!



The What, Why and How. What are you going to do?  Why are you doing it? How are you going to make it happen?  The more specific the goal, the greater chance you have of making it happen.  

How much?  How many?  How will I know when I am there?  Establish concrete criteria for measuring your progress both at the end and along the way.  Establish ways of staying on track.  

Identify what is most important to you and you will grow and expand to reach those goals.  A goal needs to stretch you slightly to keep you motivated.  If you can design the steps and measure the outcomes, you will be able to achieve that goal.

Start out by reflecting on your starting point.  Where are you right now in your practice, and where do you hope to be?  You have to be both willing and able to get there.  

Ground your goal with a time frame and set target dates for each component.  

Beginning of the year goal setting is a great time to reflect on where you were at the end of last year and where you hope to be at the end of this year.  Make a list of things you want to look different about your teaching practice, how you want your classroom to feel different this year, who you want to be for your students.  This is a time to dream, to envision yourself as the best teacher you can be.  Then create 2-3 S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself for the year and design your plan.  Think about the steps you will take to make them happen, your time frame, how you will measure them.  Think about when you want to focus on each one.  Perhaps one is best for earlier in the year, and one for later on.  Think about whom you need to involve in the process.  Do you need support from your administrators?  From Susan or Amanda?  From a teammate?  Share your goals with a mentor or someone who can provide you with that support.  And most importantly, find ways to remind yourself to check your progress and hold yourself accountable.

Our students are often told by the adults in their lives whom they should be, how they should behave, and what should be important to them.  Empowering students to identify these things for themselves and to take responsibility for their own learning can be a very powerful experience.  This can work for all ages, just remember to consider the scaffolding you may need to provide.  Do you want students to choose a goal in a specific subject area?  A goal around study skills or organization? Design a process for your students that allows them to reflect on what they want the outcome to look like, how they plan to get there, and what they need in terms of support.  

Setting Goals Together
Think about how to integrate the goals the students set for themselves and the goals you have for them both as a class and individually.  Meet with students individually to reflect on their goals, push them a little further (or pull them back towards a more attainable goal), and design a plan to support their progress.  Schedule timely check-ins where students can re-visit their goals and check their progress.  When students feel that you are invested in the process, it is a much more meaningful experience for them.

Also consider setting goals as a class.  Creating your classroom community and learning environment doesn’t just have to be about where you are now, you can also consider where you would like to be as a community.  

Example 1 (Teacher):
Reflection: Last year I finally got to a place where I felt like my units were well designed, balanced skills and meaning, and used havruta well.  I didn’t feel that my assessments were as good as they could be.  

Goal: This semester, I want to be more intentional about the assessments I design for my Tanakh class.  I would like both the form and content of the assessment to match the goals, content and structure of the unit.

How will I know when I have accomplished my goal?  What will success look like?
Students performance on assessments will indicate how well they learned the content, concepts and understood the structure for learning the unit.  From looking at their work, I will be able to identify which of these components they really got, and which ones (if any) they did not.  

How will I hold myself accountable for this process?
1. Write all the dates in my calendar.
2. Ask my mentor (if applicable) to also write the dates so we can check in together at the assigned times.  



1. Identify 2 units to work on, and one to start with.

By mid August.

2. Clearly identify my goals for the unit, review the content, and the structure for the unit.

By the end of August.

3. Review the various types of assessments that I have used in the past.

By the end of August.

4. Brainstorm with friends and colleagues other forms of assessments.

Week two in September.

5. Identify the type of assessment that best matches this unit.  

Week two in September.

6. Share my work with a friend, mentor, colleague and ask for feedback.  

Week three in September.

7. Design the assessment for that unit.  Look at the goals for my unit and make sure that the assessment is in line with the goals.  

Mid October.

8. Share with a friend, mentor or colleague and ask for feedback.

Mid October.

9. Give assessment to the students.

First week in November.

10. Ask students for feedback on how the assessment was for them in both form and content.  

First week in Novmber.

11. Reflect on what I could have done differently based on student achievement and responses.

Mid November.

12. Begin process again with the next unit.

Mid November.