A growth-oriented faculty culture is imperative for school success. Teachers who constantly strive to better serve their students are the backbone of their schools—they are the frontline, delivering missions with excellence.
Part of a teacher’s efforts includes setting goals. Each teacher should be tasked with setting their own goals. In order for goals to be effective, they should be personalized, energizing, engaging, ongoing, and risky—embracing the idea that failure is a learning opportunity.
How should teachers set growth goals, especially amid the backdrop of a year unlike any other? We share our insight.
Goal Setting 101
Goal-setting looks different during a crisis like COVID-19. In the spring of 2020, goal setting was crisis and administrative-driven, time-critical, and personalized.
As people continue to settle into the “new normal,” it's important to shift back to teacher-centered goals—allotting time for planning, teacher input, and the ability to personalize. “In the spring of 2020, things were from the top down,” Josh said. “Things are teacher-driven again and back in that blended environment.”
How Teachers Can Sets Goals
Step #1: Set measurable goals. Measurable goals should have four distinct qualities.
- The goal should be realistic and achievable.
- There should be a clear path to achieving the goal.
- The goal should be related to your school’s overall mission.
- There should be a way to determine if the goal was successfully met.
Step #2: Create an action plan. Once a teacher sets a goal, they must create an action plan. This is a step-by-step guide to accomplish each goal, including deadlines for reaching specific milestones.
Step #3: Assess and refocus. As the teacher reaches the deadlines set for each step, they must assess progress. Did they accomplish the milestones as they set out? If not, why? Were they unobtainable? Did other tasks take priority? Should they have?
Ensuring the Support of a Coach
Teachers should set a maximum of two achievable goals per school year in collaboration with a coach. The coach may be a peer, department head, division head, or academic dean—but above all, this person must be trained in coaching. There must be trust between these two individuals. A coach is meant to help develop and reflect on the teacher’s goals.
Goals should be approved by the teacher’s supervisor, taking into account school-wide initiatives already in place.
Ego should not be involved and the coach should have excellent listening skills. Communication skills are a must. The coach should create a non-toxic environment in their words and emotions, and create a positive atmosphere. Collaboration and good time management skills are important. The coach should be a strong team player, respected, and admired by their peers.
Assessing Teacher Growth Goals
There are many things to consider if you are responsible for evaluating a teacher’s growth goals. Consider things like:
- how the goals align and support a school-wide initiative;
- the costs associated with the goal;
- how the goals challenge or inspire; and
- the timeline and plan to achieve the goals.
Another way to ensure a teacher's success is by having them sign a commitment to a growth plan. The growth plan reminds the teacher of their goals and holds them accountable. Require the supervisor’s signature to increase accountability.
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Reflection and Socialization
When a teacher completes a goal, whether it be a “success” or “failure,” have them write a reflection regarding student outcomes that were observed, the lessons learned from the process, and how their findings will impact instruction or inspire future goals.
Goal-completion should be shared with the rest of the faculty. This allows your staff to learn from one another.
Supporting faculty can be hard, and doing it effectively during a global pandemic makes it even more difficult. Helping teachers stay on track and set goals for themselves will ultimately facilitate this process.
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