Revisiting Your Professional Goals and Setting New Ones

Revisiting Your Professional Goals and Setting New Ones

As the end of the school year approaches, I hope you find yourself admiring the growth your students and classroom community have made since the fall. I hope, too, that you look at yourself with pride as you reflect on all you have learned, adjusted to, and created this school year.

The reflecting that you do at the end of a school year is most meaningful when combined with a look ahead at the upcoming year. For instance, you might have thoughts such as “That activity went surprisingly well. Next year, I am going to introduce it earlier.” Or: “This routine never went as smoothly as I would have liked. I am going to rethink it for next year.”

Intentionally dedicating time at the end of the school year for reflection and goal-setting can serve you in many ways: you can be a continuous learner who grows through experience; you can enter a new school year with documented goals that you selected when your experiences were fresh; and you can free yourself up to rest, relax, and rejuvenate this summer!

Tips for Reflecting on This Year’s Goals

  • Write it down. Putting your thoughts into words can help you organize your ideas and solidify the year’s learning. Choose what works best for you—whether a notebook, a Google document, or a note on your phone.
  • Focus on what went well. Students grow when your feedback highlights what’s going well and offers a clear next step for growth. We grow from our strengths, too!
  • Reflect objectively about unmet goals. It’s easy to beat yourself up about what you didn’t accomplish. Make sure you keep in mind all of the unexpected obligations and obstacles you handled throughout the year.
  • Include both academic and social-emotional learning. Your success as an educator cannot be measured through data alone. Just as you take a holistic approach to each child you teach, look at your class’s growth through a holistic lens.

Tips for Setting New Goals

  • Write these down, too. Writing out your goals can help you follow through on them by acting as a visual reminder of what you want to accomplish. Whether you write them by hand or on your computer or phone, make sure you store your new goals where you can easily find them when the next school year rolls around.
  • Be realistic. Most educators can expect new initiatives, curricula, and site-based goals in the fall. Be sure you don’t contribute to your own implementation fatigue! Instead, consider how new goals can fit into what you see coming and be willing to adjust your goals to complement the unexpected.
  • Take care of yourself. This year, my main goal was to protect myself from burnout. I set clear boundaries: to not take work home with me, to work late no more than once per week, and to decline extra school committees and commitments. This meant I could no longer “do it all”; as a perfectionist, this was hard for me. But it was worth it because, looking back at this school year, my commitment to myself made me a better teacher—and a teacher who can show up again next year.

A Cheer for Educators Everywhere

When I present the Responsive Classroom Elementary Core Course, I like to end the week with a celebratory cheer to acknowledge all the hard work participants have put in. In honor of all the successes and challenges you have experienced this year, here’s a cheer celebrating you! (If you feel inspired to, try it out loud.) From Closing Circles: 50 Activities for Ending the Day in a Positive Way.

We’re gonna give (clap) our (clap) selves a hand. We’re gonna give ourselves a hand. (clap, clap)

We’re gonna give (clap) our (clap) selves a hand. We’re gonna give ourselves a hand. (clap, clap)

Julia Monke is a consulting teacher for Center for Responsive Schools and a first-grade teacher in Minneapolis.