Teaching goals, slightly different from the usual ‘drink more water/walk more’ type of goals. Nowadays, there is heaps of advice about goal setting, the Dec/Jan magazines are covered in how to get the new-you in 2018. Teaching goals are a little deeper, more mindful, and have the potential to positively impact others around you, as well as yourself.

So, what would you choose as a professional goal, and more to the point, what’s the point? Firstly, I want to clarify that the goal I’m talking about is not your appraisal goal. You can certainly use the ideas generated by your appraisal to create your goal, BUT the goal I’m talking about here is one you set for yourself, by yourself, without the influence of someone else who wants you to work on a particular area of your teaching. You alone decide it. It is your choice, it’s your idea, and it’s about what you want to develop in your teaching. Appraisal goals, in contrast, are usually joint-goals, set together with someone else, usually made with the input of your team leader/mentor. This presents a potential power imbalance, where it is a challenge to say no to their idea for your goal. At times the goals set at appraisal can link to a deficit in your teaching that the team leader has identified, and might, in all honesty, be something that is of no interest to you.

And secondly, what’s the point? Well, personal growth is a… well, personal thing, as teachers we belong to a profession that believes in the idea of lifelong learners, and professional goals help us achieve that. Not all learning needs to be at a course, or a paper at an education provider. It can be you working on you.

A professional goal is about YOUR next step, what you want to do, what you want to get better at. Some examples are:

Increase use of Māori phrases

Explore what schemas actually mean to children’s learning

Read the new Te Whāriki

Be completely present in your teaching moments

Create spaces for children to test their working theories rather than stepping in with the solution

Add more science

Focus on sustainability, to name a few.

So, here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Visualise it decide what it is you want, and visualise it in your brain, as well as put up an image of it somewhere you can see it. The ability to see what you want to achieve is surprisingly effective. If you want to include more science-based activities or conversations into your teaching, a picture of children working on a science activity would be ideal, as would a science-related picture, just something to jolt you into focusing on your goal.
  2. Don’t act alone firstly, I think it’s important to tell your team leader, and your team what you are doing. That way there are no secrets or confusion. It’s also good manners in my opinion. You may even find that someone else is also keen, and the support could be an advantage.
  3. Break it down Engaging children with ideas pertaining to sustainability could seem a bit overwhelming, but, one activity a week could be more manageable.
  4. Track your progress Make a chart, tick it off, display your ‘results’ to the team/parents, be a bit of a show-off (but not too much as that’s just boring). Take photos, write a Storypark story, or make a display sharing the activities or your progress. It’s cool to see your language skills develop, and showing others can often have a positive effect that makes others give it a go too.
  5. Seek help and support when you need it Google ideas, look through Pinterest, organise a coffee date with someone who knows about your topic, team up with someone in your team and support each other. Is there a parent with some knowledge or expertise that you can approach? Maybe your goal is related, or the same, or completely different.
  6. Celebrate stop and smell the roses, tell a friend about a part you are proud of, give yourself a non-food treat – buy a book, buy a resource that might help your goal, a plant for your garden. A woman I knew set up a wee garden space for herself and bought a plant every time she got a promotion, met a goal, did something she was proud of. 

And to wrap it all up, there will be setbacks, you won’t always be successful, be kind to yourself, know when to have a break from your goal, and also when to stop procrastinating and get on with it!  The challenge is maintaining an interest in your professional goal! I wish you well in 2018, feel free to stop by and give us an update. Make 2018 your year, go, be awesome! Kath.

Kath CooperKath Cooper works for  Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand. She is passionate about all things early childhood and issues of sustainability. Her recent research was on the visibility of gay early childhood teachers. She lives with her wife in Wellington and has four lovely children and three amazing grandchildren.

Posted by Sonya McIntyre

Sonya went to Rata street kindergarten and Petone kindergarten, before gaining her bachelor of education at Victoria University. As well as working with Storypark Sonya works as an ECE teacher.


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