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The holidays are over and the first semester is almost over. By the end of this month teachers, administrators, and students will have already burned through half the school year. This is a great time to pull those yearly goals out of your desk drawer and analyze your progress towards meeting them.
When you think about it, you actually have less than a full semester to accomplish what you hoped to when you wrote down your goals late last summer. There will be days off, planned (like spring break) or unplanned (like snow days). There will be instructional days lost to testing and some lost surreptitiously to prepping for those tests. There will be assemblies, educational and pep. There will be spring.
When teachers in my district first started setting goals, the principals met with them individually and briefly during September to review their goals. Then, in June, the principals met with teachers again to see what they had accomplished. It turned out that a lot of teachers had forgotten their goals, couldn’t find them, or discovered that they were unrealistic. And some of them were too broad to begin with, like “improving reading instruction.”
So we went to a more strategic plan, asking teachers to set no more than 3 specific goals and describe how they planned to accomplish them and what they would need to do so. Then principals met with teachers in January to check on progress. It turned out that teachers found the exercise more than a little helpful. Some goals, they found, proved to be unrealistic and needed to be modified or even abandoned. And some were spot on, and the teacher was making steady progress.
Principals and teachers met again in June for a final review, and results were much better and much more satisfying for teachers. Later we made that late spring (or even early summer) meeting a time to also identify goals for the following year, building on what had already been accomplished.
Yes, it takes time. But goal setting keeps the focus on instruction and growth. And each teacher has control over what he or she chooses to work on.
Anyway, January is a great time for mid-course corrections. Below is a wonderful short video that will engage your intellect and your senses in a thoughtful educational exercise to start the second half of the year. It’s way better than a UPS commercial.