When I think of goals, I often think of lofty ideas that start off well-meaning yet peter out 1-2 weeks after I set the goal. As a teacher it was easy to set goals over the summer, when I was feeling fresh, but more difficult to maintain as the year moved on.
Yet, as leaders in our classrooms, goal setting should be a priority rather than another task to check-off our admin’s wish list for teachers.
What if we reframed our minds around what goal setting means for us and how it could greatly impact the learning going on in our classrooms? It’s all about knowing where to start and taking those baby steps towards identifying a goal, implementing it, and seeing it through to completion.
Today, we’re going to focus on how to set classroom organization goals using the SMART Goal process. We’ll address the other categories of teacher goal setting in the next few weeks.
1. Identify your Professional Goal
Teaching goals can be found in 3 different categories:
- Organization (this also includes time management)
- Curriculum and Lesson Planning (this includes any type of assessment)
- Student and Family Relationships (this also includes classroom management)
Think about where you stand in each category.
Take a moment to rate yourself in each category. 1 being your weakest area and 3 your strongest.
Use either your 1 or 2 to narrow down your more specific goal.
2. Narrow it Down
After you’ve identified your weakest category, narrow it down to a specific task in that category.
Here are some components of each category; feel free to brainstorm your own! Your job, in reviewing this list, is to ask yourself, “Which component makes me anxious or is missing from my teaching practice? If I had that component, my teaching life would be more joyful and less stressful!”
-General classroom set up/flow of the room
- Are there areas that are cluttered, forgotten about, or not purposeful to your students & class context?
-File cabinets or files on your computer
- Are things disorganized and not labeled correctly? Does your file cabinet collect random or old things? Do you avoid using it because it causes anxiety?
-Student seating & supplies
- Do you find yourself stressed out about where students sit or how the class is arranged? Is it difficult for you or students to find what you need when you need it?
-Organization of time
- Do you find yourself working every weekend and late every night? Do you feel like there’s not enough time to do your work? Do you find yourself wondering where your planning time went every time you sit down to plan?
-Collection of work
- Do I regularly lose or misplace student work? Am I stressed over how many items there are to collect and haven’t put a routine in place to collect work?
3. Write a SMART goal
Use the specific task in step 2 to write your SMART goal. I would recommend narrowing it down even more to 1 class period or part of your room.
For example, I am a teacher who constantly works late every night and on the weekends. My goal will help me to not work on the weekends.
Specific-Specificity ensures that goals are met at a higher rate. Vague or too large goals are often forgotten about, especially if they seem too daunting to achieve within the school year.
I will use my 5 planning periods and 1 late afternoon to finish my school work.
Measurable–We’re now taking our goal and ensuring that we can reasonably measure our goal.
I will use my planning periods and Thursdays to grade and lesson plan for the following week.
Achievable– Realistically think about how you can achieve this goal. Talk with colleagues or admin to help you identify blind spots or glitches in your goal. You want to walk away with something you CAN achieve! I am setting achievable goals for each planning period that way I walk into that planning period WITH a plan!
I will use 2 planning periods to grade work from that week, 3 planning periods to plan lessons for the following week, and stay late Thursday to finish up any grading or lesson planning.
Relevant & Realistic-Why is this goal important to your teaching context? When you AND students know where they stand in your class, you’ll be able to intervene when necessary and build confidence where it might be lacking. Working on the weekends only serves to burn teachers out. This goal keeps you in the profession and ensures your time is being used well.
In order to not work on the weekends, I will use 2 planning periods to grade work from that week, 3 planning periods to plan lessons for the following week, and stay late Thursday to finish up any grading or lesson planning.
Time Bound-When do you hope to achieve this goal? Think about the entire school year and what makes sense for your specific goal. If your course is only 1 semester, you might have to rewrite it for a new class the next semester. It’s okay to change goals mid-year if your teaching context changes.
In order to not work on the weekends, I will use 2 planning periods to grade work from that week, 3 planning periods to plan lessons for the following week, and stay late Thursday to finish up any grading or lesson planning each week for the entire semester.
After writing your SMART goal, be sure to share it with a colleague who also has their own SMART goal. I recommend meeting once a week at the start of your SMART goal to ensure you both feel supported in your goal. Then, as the year goes on, you can have twice a month check-ins.
Plan for celebrations and you meet each step of your SMART goal. Be sure to give yourself grace on days when things don’t go to plan. If you find that your SMART goal isn’t work, rewrite it so that it does work and can be achieved.
The time we spend in community and holding space for each other with our goals sets a beautiful foundation for our teaching. Teachers, students, and school communities thrive when everyone knows what they’re working towards and that they don’t have to do so alone.
Be sure to share your organization SMART goals with us or let us know if you’d like help in writing an organization SMART goal!