Summer Break has ended. Students are entering new classrooms and teachers are assembling new lessons. The new school year is upon us and it’s a time for a fresh start and new beginnings. Even if this is your 20th year as a teacher at the school or you’re a student entering senior year of your school, the new academic year is a time for a fresh start and new beginnings.
If you have not already spent some time reviewing last year, spend some time going over its successes, failures, and everything in between. What do you want to change this year? Try again with renewed vigor? Or just set aside knowing that it was a failure? The new school year is an opportunity to start anew. If it helps to write out goals, try out the SMART system for goal setting.
As an educator for almost two decades, I’ve been amazed at how quickly kids can and do reinvent themselves. I’ve watched the “class clown” become a music aficionado one year and strong athlete the next. I’ve seen struggling, even apathetic students, become serious scholars! Take inspiration from your students. Whether you want to make big or small changes in your classroom or outside of it, take advantage of your fresh start!
I have been writing a series of blog posts about preparing to go back to school. Each Fall (end of summer), I like to sit down and think of a few goals that I would like to achieve. Goal setting can be challenging for several reasons. First, it forces us to look at some of our perceived “deficiencies.” Where do we need to improve? What do we need to learn? Try to think of these not deficiencies, but as areas of growth. Second, goal-setting can feel overwhelming, especially if we have lofty goals. Even if goals feel daunting, I find that I can conquer them if I task them out using the SMART criteria. This helps you to articulate your goals in meaningful and thoughtful ways. For goals to be SMART they must be:
Specific – Goals should be simple and straight forward.
Measurable – You should be able to use tangible and measurable evidence to determine your progress towards your goal and against which to assess achievement.
Attainable – While you want to stretch yourself with goal-setting, your goals should be realistic.
Relevant – Goals should be focused on a vital area of professional or personal growth. Don’t set goals just to have goals
Time-bound – You need a timeline. How and when will you measure success?
If you would like some help in writing and crafting SMART goals, check out this process from UVA and MIT. A peer once suggested posting your goals publicly. This not only holds you accountable but models effective goal-setting. Better yet, if you fail to achieve your goals you can model learning from failure!
What are your goals for the coming year? Leave it in the comments below!
If you want to set some new year’s resolutions, try doing it the SMART way. Write down your goals and tweak them so that they are:
- Specific: Clear & well-defined.
- Measureable: Able to determine successful.
- Agreed Upon: Agreed upon with all stakeholders.
- Realistic: Within available resources, abilities, and time.
- Timed-Based: A set deadline.
SMART goals are easier to achieve and measure. Give it a try!