Making Every Year Better than the Last: A Three-Step Goal-Setting Plan for Teachers


This three-step goal-setting plan for teachers will equip you to make this school year better than last year.

By Lori Ann Watson

The students have gone home, your classroom is packed up, chairs are stacked, and the hallways will soon gleam with that annual fresh coat of wax. A teacher’s job is never over, though; in July, we’re all thinking about August.

Today’s Catholic Teacher wanted to pull together a few resources to help with your goal setting this year. We turned to the wisdom of Christian productivity expert Michael Hyatt and adapted his advice to create a three-step plan for teachers.

Whether you sit down with a cute organizer, color-coding pens, and Washi© tape or just mentally rearrange your classroom while you’re under the shade of a beach umbrella, you can use these guidelines to help make each school year better than the one that came before.

General Goal-Setting Tips

According to Mr. Hyatt, author of Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, effective goalsetting requires a deeply intentional approach. In The Beginner’s Guide to Goal-Setting, Mr. Hyatt outlines his principles for establishing and monitoring goals. He uses a modified version of the S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound) acronym, but he also adds four elements that help turn goals into reality. He advises that your goals be few (5-7 at most), written down, reviewed regularly, and only shared selectively (goals kept quietly may be more easily attained).

S.M.A.R.T. Goals are:

  • Specific—Define the details.
  • Measurable—How will you know you have attained your goal?
  • Actionable—Each goal begins with a verb.
  • Realistic, but risky—In Mr. Hyatt’s words, “I go right up to the edge of my comfort zone—and then step over it.”
  • Time-bound—Set a deadline for each goal.

Of all of these elements, Mr. Hyatt places special importance on two: writing the goals down and reviewing them regularly. He reviews his own list of goals weekly, and he says this weekly review, during which he also identifies the next step he needs to take toward each goal, is the key to making them happen.

A Three-Step Goal-Setting Plan for Teachers

When you sit down (or lie under the shade of that beach umbrella, as the case may be) to set your goals for the year, you’ll want to consider a few specific areas. Here is a simple three-step plan to help guide you.

Step 1: Identify strengths and problem areas; then brainstorm actions you can take to improve.

We outlined questions in each of seven teacher domains in a simple pdf; just print it out and and take it along:

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Step 2: Prayerfully consider and prioritize the action items you came up with. Use them to set your goals.

Weigh the impact of each on the level of peace it will bring to your room. Also consider which action items could impact more than one area and solve multiple problems on your list, as well as which classroom areas are most important to you.

Now, set five to seven goals for yourself and write them down. Remember to make them measurable and to set a timeline for each one.

Step 3: Schedule your goal review sessions.

You might choose to review your goals daily, weekly, monthly, or at certain points in each grading period. Set aside a time and a place for your reviews, and then keep your goals handy. Mark the dates for your review sessions on your calendar, and at those sessions, remember to identify the next step you’ll take toward each goal.

As teachers, we spend every minute rethinking the last one and planning for the next. By the time we hit May, we can find ourselves worn too thin. Effective goalsetting (and goal tracking) can help us stay ahead of the game so that we (and our students) look back on each school year and say, “Yes. This was the best year yet.”

To glean more of Michael Hyatt’s productivity wisdom, check out these links:

Lori Ann Watson teaches, homeschools, blogs about Catholicism, and almost never gets caught up on laundry. She writes from North Central Florida.

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