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Goal Setting

There are many studies on the importance of goal setting as a motivational tool. Studies have shown that setting specific and challenging goals, and using the goals for evaluative purposes, with set deadlines, can greatly improve performance - both individually and as an organization.

In working with teachers, I often stress the importance of having a teaching objective that is S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable (but challenging), Relevant, and Time-bound. There is a great deal of research linking the stating of the objective to students in this manner, with much higher student achievement – some studies say as much as 26 percentiles. That is huge evidence for the value of setting and stating goals. The same holds true for teachers.

As the school year is winding down, it is an important time to assess the past year and set goals for the next year. As a school administrator, each year in the spring I asked teachers to self-reflect on strengths, areas needing growth, and goals for the next year. We met individually and discussed these. The process of self-reflection, as well as collaborative feedback and input from the administrator, was helpful in charting a course for success.

The end of the school year is a great time to reflect and assess successes as a teacher and set goals for improvement. Teacher goal setting should differ based on an individual teacher’s needs and in collaboration with evaluation feedback. Setting goals that impact improved performance should consider 3 areas: student outcomes; professional learning goals; and personal goals. Teachers and schools can drive progress in student achievement and personal professional growth with setting goals in each of these areas.

1. Student Goals –set student learning goals:

  • Tied directly to the most important thing – measurable and performance results.

  • Tied to test results, summative assessments or other outcome metrics.

  • Tied to performance goals for specials classes.


Student Goal - 75% of my students will earn 80% or better on each of my summative unit tests.If goals have been met, success factors will be identified. If goals were not met, key problems will be identified and new strategies put implemented.

2. Professional Learning Goals – Teachers set a professional goal by assessing:

  • What instructional practices are important to meeting student outcome goals?

  • These goals are aligned to the observation instrument.


Professional Goal – I will maximize student learning by creating and sustaining a focused classroom, consistently using the behavior management plan in place to be positive and give immediate corrective feedback.

  • Informal Observation Feedback - During observations, teacher has 3 positive responses and 1 corrective responses for student behavior

  • Observation Data on Student Actions after Teacher Directions - # students who follow the directive and have pencils down after teacher directions.

3. Personal Growth Goal

  • Personal growth goals are goals that indirectly impact a teacher’s success or happiness.

  • Goals that promote or encourage personal growth, or goals related to professionalism such as timeliness, peer interaction, or other non-teaching related duties.

What makes a goal worth setting? Goals shout be:

  • Long term – something to asses at the end of a semester and year.

  • Collaborative – discussed with an administrator using evaluative feedback.

  • S.M.A.R.T. – If the goal isn’t specific, measurable appropriate challenging and realistic – it really isn’t worthwhile – properly written goals are important.

Good goal setting is important to teacher, student, and school-wide success. Seeing goals met will foster additional growth in striving for continual improvement in school. Take the time before the school year ends, to set important goals to motivate change and growth in your school setting.