Teachers’ Hopes and Goals

In the hustle and bustle of the beginning of back-to-school time, have you thought about your goals for learning and growth for this year? I recently talked with a principal who was planning a time for staff at her school to reflect on this important topic.

The conversation made me remember the first time a principal asked me to identify my goals for the school year. I generated a list of approximately 25 things I wanted to achieve, including everything from “use logical consequences more effectively” to “do a better job of communicating with parents.” It was a grand list, but as I soon discovered, much too ambitious for a single year. Since then, I’ve learned that one or two goals are plenty—and that it’s also really important to make a plan for how you’ll keep your goals in mind throughout the year.

Here are some more ideas on the topic of hopes and goals for teachers and other adults who work in schools:

1. Questions to consider:
  • What went well last year?
  • What are you most looking forward to this year?
  • What goals do you have for your teaching this year? Which one or two will you focus on?
  • What resources or structures would help you reach your goal?
  • How could your colleagues help you?
  • How will you know when your goal has been achieved?
2. Create a plan for how you will keep your goal(s) front and center.  I’ve seen teachers/administrators use many strategies, including:
  • Dedicating time during meetings for teachers to identify, share, refine AND reflect on their goals.
  • Creating a public display of teachers’ and administrators’ goals in a prominent location in the school.
  • Writing reminders in your plan book or lesson plans.
  • Creating a visual reminder with specific cues to support your goal.  One third grade teacher I observed created a small laminated card with reinforcing sentence starters that she wore on the back of her nametag to remind her to focus on her goal of using more reinforcing language with her students.
  • Keeping a reflection journal that will provide a window into some of your successes and challenges.  (To see how another teacher uses this strategy, check out Caltha Crowe’s book, Sammy and his Behavior Problems.)
  • Inviting a colleague to observe your teaching and provide feedback related to your goal. Offer to do the same for her/him.
  • Collecting artifacts or anecdotes that illustrate your work towards achieving your goal.

My goal this year is related to teacher language, but not spoken language this time. This year my goal is to work on the art and skill of respectful listening.


Babs Freeman-Loftis is a Responsive Classroom consultant and coauthor of Responsive School Discipline. She was assistant head of the lower school at the University School of Nashville for nine years.

Tags: Getting Started with RC

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