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Reflection + Goal Setting = New Year’s Resolutions

December 30, 2011

I’m sure many of you are wondering as I am, “Where did 2011 go?” Winter break is almost over and the coming weekend will be filled with celebrations welcoming 2012. On Monday or Tuesday most of us will be headed back to our classrooms.

As I ponder and plan ahead, I hope for the usual…happiness and health for my family and friends. Just like most of you I will make resolutions for personal and professional growth. I resolve to organize all my photographs both digital and vintage hardcopy, MAKE time to exercise more and lose weight, complete projects started in 2011 and challenge myself to continually learn and grow. (I resolve to master my iPad to utilize its full capabilities.)

As we begin a fresh calendar year in our classrooms, we are provided with an occasion to again reflect on where we are and where we want to be as educators and where our students are and where we want them to be at the end of this school year.

Professional growth is dependent upon personal growth; they occur simultaneously. Growth is your personal and professional responsibility. Master teachers are dedicated to new learning, open to revelations, and committed to renewal.

There are a myriad of approaches to contemplate teaching and learning and the context in which those processes occur. Pondering the thoughts of others or reflecting on questions regarding your own thoughts are avenues to growing personally and professionally. New learning transpires from reading books. Revelations occur when quotes resonate within you and reveal new perspectives. Questions push you to examine your beliefs and assumptions. Renewal happens when the passion for teaching and learning is deepened by the participation in activities that facilitate personal and professional growth.

From chapter 9 of our book.
Carpenter, L.L., Fontanini, J. J., & Neiman, L. V. (2010). From surviving to thriving: Mastering the art of the elementary classroom. Dayton, OH: Lorenz Educational Press.

I invite you to take time before you return to school to reflect and set goals, to resolve to be the teacher your students deserve.  Make a plan to continue your journey to becoming a master teacher and to thriving in your classroom and school community.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and productive New Year!


New Year’s Resolutions

Consider also (if you have not already) to support your students in setting goals for their own growth. Many schools use the  SMART Goals process. (Specific and Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Results-based, and Timebound).

Setting SMART goals
Teachers consider a number of factors when helping students set SMART goals.

  1. Self-reflection. Ask the student to think about: What am I doing well? What do I need to do to improve?
  2. Goal setting. The student plans what to do.
  3. Rationale. The student explains why he or she chose the goal.
  4.  Action plan. The student describes strategies and steps he or she will use to complete the goal. The student names resources to use to reach the goal.
  5. Timeline. The student decides how much time to spend working on the goal, including setting progress checkpoints when goals have longer time frames.
  6. Evidence. The student describes how he or she will know when the goal is reached: What will it look like? What work might I collect?
  7. Implementation. The student carries out his or her plan.
  8. Reflection. The student is asked to reflect: Did I reach my goal? How do I know? What went well? What gave me trouble? Did I use or follow my action plan? What is my next step in this area?

O’Neill, Jan. (2004). Teachers learn to set goals with students. Journal of Staff Development, 25 (3), 32-37.

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