Professional Development Goal Setting for Teachers

Highly effective teachers set goals for self improvement.
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Highly effective teachers focus on professional improvement and hold themselves accountable, according to ASSA, the School Superintendent's Association. This is a fancy way of saying you need to take a look at what you're doing and see what you can do better if you want to advance in your career. Once you know where you need to improve, have a discussion with your supervising administrator. Have an action plan ready when you talk with her. Your clear goals will impress her and set you on your way to becoming highly effective in your profession.

Analyze and Refine Performance

Ultimately, your goal is to get your kids to do their best work, so you’ll need to set up and adjust your plans according to their performance. Choose your goals according to where you are in your career. If you’ve been teaching for a long time, you’ll have different goals than a newbie or a teacher who’s currently on probation. If you’re not sure where to start, talk with your administrator or someone from the planning team. They might let you borrow the professional development plan guides they use to help teachers who are on probation. Even if this is not your issue, it's likely to give you some ideas.

Evaluate Instructional Areas

You have a lot to work with when you develop your goals. For example, there’s planning, preparation and assessment. You also have learning environments, instructional practice, professional responsibilities and growth. For each of these, write down everything you’re good at. For example, if you can get your kids to be productive and responsible -- they do their homework, raise their hands and answer questions, and so on -- you have strengths in the learning environment area. You’ll need to do the same for areas where you need to improve. Be very specific with these because they’ll become your goals. If you feel you can’t accomplish a goal this very moment, write it down anyway. You can get to it later.

Goal Setting Process

At this point in your life, goal setting is nothing new. Setting professional goals is no different from setting any other goal. First, you figure out what you want to achieve, then find a way of measuring how close you’re getting to the goal. Then you need to plan how you’ll achieve the goals, so you need to know the things you must do to get to your goal. Make sure the goal is important to your job, and set a time frame for reaching the goal. Track yourself just like you track your student’s progress, making notes along the way. You’ll use your notes for future goals.

Professional Development Activities

As you work toward your goals, don’t hesitate to steal ideas from your fellow teachers. Incorporate their best techniques in your own classroom to improve your results. Also, mentoring a new teacher can add polish and help you hone your skills. If your goal is to be principal or superintendent, enroll in leadership development programs and attend conferences. Your administrator might even spring for the cost of these programs. She's probably on the lookout for volunteers to help with her duties; help her out next time. She might return the favor by mentoring you and helping you get to your goals.

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