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How to make a teaching goal for the new year

By Gretchen Vierstra, MA

Understood's resources for educators are backed by research, vetted by experts, and reviewed by classroom teachers.

Understood's resources for educators are backed by research, vetted by experts, and reviewed by classroom teachers.

The new year is almost here. Like most of us, you’re probably ready to shut the door on 2020. But before you do, take a moment to reflect on the school year so far.

How did the first part go for you and your students who learn and think differently? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?  

The start of a new calendar year is a great time to think about how you’d like to grow as an educator. What would you like to do differently in 2021? What do you want to learn more about? 

1. Pick a focus area.

There’s only so much you can work on, especially during a challenging school year like this one. Consider your situation and be realistic about what you can take on. Then pick one area you’d like to focus on first. Here are some ideas to get you started: 

Distance learning

There’s still more to learn about teaching students — especially students who learn and think differently — during distance learning. If this is an area you’d like to focus on, take a look at our distance learning hub. Try starting with these three articles:

Collaborating with colleagues

Social distancing might make collaborating with colleagues feel more challenging. But now more than ever, colleagues are important partners for sharing ideas, discussing accommodations for students, and building community.

Think about ways you can start or strengthen your collaboration with colleagues. Take a look at these resources to get started: 

Social-emotional learning (SEL)

Many students and teachers are experiencing high levels of stress this year. When you incorporate SEL into your teaching, both you and your students can find ways to cope with your feelings and navigate challenges.

To learn more about SEL in the classroom, check out these articles: 

2. Set a goal.

Once you’ve picked your focus area, set a manageable goal. Try using a SMART goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound.

If you’re focusing on SEL, for example, a SMART goal may be to include at least one activity each week that builds community for the rest of the school year. 

To help you keep on track, tell your colleagues about your goals. They may have tips, words of encouragement, or questions to help you think further about your goal. Also, your goal-setting may inspire them to set their own. 

3. Get feedback from your students. 

Model a growth mindset by sharing your goal with your students. Depending on your goal, consider including your students in the process. Gather their feedback about your focus area through class conversations, one-on-one chats, or surveys.

For example, you can give your students a survey to find out how distance learning is going. Or you can meet with small groups of students to talk about ideas for building class community. Let them know you value their input. 

4. Reflect.

Your students aren’t the only ones who should reflect on their learning. Set aside time at the end of each month to reflect on your progress.

Use a notebook to jot down observations or add your ideas to a running online document. Ask yourself how your work has impacted your students. What challenges have you worked through? What successes have you found? Is it time to move on to a new goal?

Ready to get started? Share your goal with us! Tweet @UnderstoodOrg to tell us your 2021 goal.  

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  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom