Learn about the importance of setting professional development goals as a teacher, how to set them and how to measure your progress for every goal you set.

As a professional educator, it’s your responsibility make sure that you’re always up-to-date with the latest teaching methods. Professional development goals are centered around your career as a teacher. These goals are about improving your abilities. Setting professional goals for yourself help to ensure that you are always giving your best work. Goals will be ever-evolving, since newer teachers will have different goals than seasoned instructors.

The one thing that always stays the same is that everyone needs to have professional development goals. The importance of this cannot be disputed. Your role in educating students is one that is fundamental to the success of society in general. It only makes good sense to ensure that you do everything within your means to practice your profession in the best possible way.

Experts advise setting down your professional development goals in writing. This helps to focus your thoughts around your goals. It also will serve as a reminder during the year of what your goals are, and enables you to keep track of which goals you’ve reached and which ones you still need to strive for.

6 professional development goals for teachers

To set realistic and achievable professional development goals it helps to break them down into the five following categories:

1. Reminisce about why you became a teacher

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed?

Part of your professional development goals should be to make sure you don’t get burned out. Take time for yourself to quietly reflect on why you became a teacher in the first place. Think about how you make such a big difference in your students’ lives. Focus on one or a handful of students and think about new ways that you can connect with those students in a meaningful way.

2. Master your teaching skills

Even though you’re a certified and trained teacher, there are always new and varied techniques that you can master in order to present classroom material to your students in a more interesting way. Teaching itself is an opportunity for lifelong learning.

3. Grow your EdTech toolkit

Are you proficient with all the technology that’s available in your school?

Make it a goal to learn about existing technology that’s available to you in your classroom as well as new technology like smart projectors that could be a valuable resource for your school in the future. You should also make it a point to stay updated with the latest software and apps that are designed to help students engage with coursework.

4. Are your goals achievable?

After you set down some basic ideas about your professional development goals, it’s time to look them over to ensure that you have set goals for yourself that are achievable.

One way to do this is to use the SMART acronym. SMART stands for:
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

Each of your goals should be focused on a specific time frame and be very detailed. For example, setting a goal like be a better teacher is too general. There are many ways to be a better teacher. A better goal would be to say, Help Johnny get at least a B on his next science paper. you can see how this goal meet all the criteria for a SMART goal. It’s very specific. It can be measured, it’s achievable, it’s relevant to your professional development goals and it’s time based.

When you set SMART goals for yourself, you’re more likely to follow through on them because they are actually achievable. Setting goals that are not achievable is defeatist, and works against you. Be certain that all the goals you set for yourself work within the personal resources you have available to you and work within your time constraints.

5. Check in on students and parents

Experts maintain that it is very important for teachers and students to stay in contact throughout the school year.

Find new ways to cultivate relationships with your students’ parents. You could do this through social media, a classroom newsletter or simply by increasing the number of parent-student conferences. Cultivate relationships with other teachers by reaching out through community groups, professional groups or by initiating an in-school group chat that meets on a weekly basis.

6. Grow your practice

Expand your own educational horizons by making it a point to learn something new. It doesn’t have to be something that you teach in the classroom. It could be learning a new language or learning how to play a new game. This will enrich your personal life as well as allow you to share what you’ve learned in the classroom with your students.

Have you met your goals?

What are the best ways to ensure that you stay on track is to make a timetable and give yourself benchmarks to meet. Break up long-term goals into smaller steps. Give each of the smaller steps a date by which they have to be accomplished. If possible, align those dates to the school year calendar. Other goals can be set for the entire school year if you plan on working on professional development goals during the summer.

After you’ve taken the time to break up larger goals into smaller goals and assigned dates to them, be sure to enter them into your calendar. A digital calendar can be very helpful to use for this purpose because you can set automatic reminders for yourself. However, if you feel more comfortable using a paper calendar, you can hang this on the wall in your office or at home to help you stay focused on your professional development goals.

Another important step to meet goals is to measure your success. Since you’re a teacher and accustomed to grading, you could use a grading system to assess how well you met each goal. You could even make it more fun and attach gold stars to the calendar after you’ve achieved a particular goal.

Pay attention to how well you achieve goals while teaching in the classroom, too. To do this, you could take notes during the day as you finish each lesson. You can also pay close attention to how your students are reacting to any new teaching methods that you’ve put into effect. This is a great way to effectively try A/B testing, where you compare two different teaching methods.

Another way to track your progress in measure your achievement is to have a colleague audit your class. You can ask the colleague to sit in and then give you feedback on how well you’re doing in relation to the professional development goals that you set for yourself.

Finally, you could set up a video camera at the back of the room that records you as you teach. This is especially helpful if one or more of your professional development goals is focused on your eye contact with students, body language or communication skills.

Final thoughts about professional development goals

When you set professional development goals, you help to ensure that you are always improving as a teacher. This process will help you to better measure your accomplishments as an educational instructor as well as help to ensure that every one of your students is receiving the best education that you can possibly give.

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