Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday Teaching Tips - Goal Setting

We talk about "setting goals" with our students all the time.  We teach them that setting goals will help them to grow.  It gives them something specific to focus on . . . something individual that benefits them instead of a blanket statement for all students which may or may not apply to their personal needs.  We know goals are important for our students, but have you thought about goals for yourself as a teacher?

As professionals we are always seeking to grow ourselves to become better at our trade.  We are even required to accumulate specified amounts of professional development hours in order renew our licenses.  Those required professional development sessions are great for your growth, but just like our students we need to focus on our greatest needs to grow ourselves into the best teachers that we can be.  That means we have to take inventory of our own personal strengths and weaknesses and do some focusing of our own.

I remember talking to a friend on my team last year about working on getting a good grip on teaching the new grade level she was in.  After being bounced around from grade to grade each year she found that she was lacking confidence in her strengths at teaching in many areas.  Thinking about all the areas you want to improve upon all at once can be very overwhelming.  Not only that but you can start to really beat yourself up about your skills and authority as a teacher!  What she decided to do was pick one subject area that year to pour her energy into and try to grow and refine her teaching in that area.  Once she became stronger and more confident in that area she would switch her focus to something new.  Don't get me wrong . . . she did not neglect the other areas!  She still continued to work on teaching those subjects, but most of her energies (researching, planning, studying, observing, etc.) were focused on that one chosen area.

Sometimes when we try to work on too much at once it seems like we don't make any headway.  We feel like we're struggling or stagnant in everything.  Focusing on one area of weakness and building it up into a strength will give us the confidence and momentum we need to continue pressing on in the next areas and eventually increase our strengths across the board.

Take one manageable step at a time.  Build yourself up with each manageable step until you reach the top . . . and then keep going!  After all, isn't that the advice you would give your students?

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