January 6, 2022
As 2022 begins, you’re probably thinking about goal-setting and planning. But after a year of continued changes—evaluating and adjusting school COVID-19 protocols, and trying to prevent burnout—setting new objectives for your school might seem daunting and exhausting.
Creating goals for 2022 is just as important—if not more important—as it has ever been. When navigating unfamiliar territory, intentions ground your school, helping to withstand challenges and manage changes when they come. Having clear goals helps motivate and unify your school community, improving everyone’s well-being and fulfilling your mission statement.
Getting started can be the hardest step. Here are some ways to create realistic goals that will last beyond the new year.
Reflect on Last Year
Reflection is an absolute necessity as the pandemic continues to make us re-evaluate school models and processes. When it comes to creating goals, retrospect is your best friend.
Consider your past goals. Did you successfully meet them? What aspects helped you? What worked well? If they were not met, identify the obstacles that kept you from succeeding.
What challenges did you encounter, and how did you overcome them? Reflecting can also reveal areas in need of improvement. Use data collected from last year—your new goals should be based on this data; they must be concrete and targeted for your school and its mission.
Define What “Realistic” Means for Your School
“Realistic” is a goal-setting buzzword that can be easily overlooked. But it is a necessary one to consider and define specifically for your school. A realistic goal should be one you are willing and able to work toward given your timeframe, available resources, and current mindset. Outlining these aspects also helps you define very specific goals—increasing effectiveness and providing a measure of your progress.
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Start With Why
Beginning with what, or the goal itself, is not always the most effective place to start. Instead, begin by evaluating why—that is, base your goals on your school’s mission and values.
Recenter your team around your school’s mission to ground the conversation and goal-setting process. Discuss how you will achieve your purpose, and ways your mission will take shape in the form of goals.
Another alternative to starting with what is to identify a desired accomplishment for the year, then move backward. For example, once your target is defined, you can outline the small steps and tasks necessary to reach that ultimate goal. It is important when using this method to base your goals on your school’s specific needs, values, and mission.
Do More With Less
When listing new goals, it is easy to get caught up in the dreaming stage and before long, your list grows from three objectives to eight or nine. Too many goals can result in fatigue—making it difficult to preserve momentum for reaching your intended outcome.
While your school may have many important, valid goals, prioritize one or two that are most critical and work toward achieving those first—especially if your school is looking to establish long-term goals.
Continue the Conversation
While creating goals and objectives for your entire school is necessary, the discussion should trickle down to teachers as well.
Encourage your faculty members to create SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) goals for themselves and their students.
Examples of teacher goals could include:
- Incorporating more professional development
- Aiming to see student growth in a specific subject area
- Improving or maintaining their personal health
- Integrating technology in their classroom
When setting large, long-term goals for your school community, allow time for teachers and school leaders to learn and adapt, as well as to see results. Take time to observe your faculty members, engage in reflective discussion, and provide concrete feedback.
As the year goes on, you’ll reevaluate and perhaps adjust your original goals. Rather than viewing this as a setback, consider any adjustments a chance to refocus your efforts and progress in the best way possible.