Destination Known or Unknown?
Is there anything more trite than an article regarding “goals” for the New Year? I am sure this will not be the only article on goals you see this month, but please don’t stop reading just yet. Many scoff at the goals of the New Year because of the failures of past resolutions. We have all made resolutions with the right intentions, only to discard them for one reason or another—the key is to not let this discourage us from making goals in the future. (Proverbs 24:16) What goals have you made for 2009, and how do you intend to implement them?
Why should I make goals?
The book of Proverbs states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Our vision, or our dream, is how we envision something in the near future. Goals are what keep us on track and help make our vision a reality. We should not live our lives just taking life as it comes. J.C. Penney said, “Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I’ll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals, and I’ll give you a stock clerk.” Simply put, you will not achieve much in life without a goal; it is a necessary ingredient of success.
What types of goals should I make as an educator?
Above and beyond our personal goals, we need to make classroom goals. What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the year? If “finish the curriculum” is your only answer, that is admirable; but how does that make you a better teacher, and how do your students benefit if that is your only goal? Is your classroom curriculum-centered or teacher-centered? If it is curriculum-centered, you will never reach every student. As you are well aware, your students do not all learn at the same pace nor in the same manner. If we are not careful, we allow the curriculum to control us instead of using it as a guide. Have you thought about making goals for each of your students? These are not necessarily goals that you share with the students, but it will give you direction from now until the end of the year. For example, Johnny struggles with math and received a low “C” in the first semester—this results in a low probability of him passing the class and understanding the material in the second semester. How will he survive the next grade? Do you have a remedy for this, or will the curriculum resolve this issue? Take the time to set goals to help your students succeed before it is too late.
Classroom goals are vital, but what other goals should an educator make?
If there is one thing that we can all do, it is continue our professional growth.
The idea that education ends when you graduate from college is a farce. Read books on teaching styles and classroom management, and work daily to achieve your goals. Find someone that can mentor you in the field of teaching. Even CEOs of large corporations and coaches of professional sports teams have coaches. Why? Because they understand the importance of professional growth.
How can I see my goals come to fruition?
Once you determine your vision for your life or for your class, develop a road map and mile markers that will take you to your destination. Several times each the year, my family and I take about a 250-mile expedition up to Redding, California, to visit my in-laws, Grams and Gramps. I know how long it typically takes to arrive at our destination, and I have selected various markers along the way to help me determine how far I have travelled and how much further I still have to go. This way, if the kids ask how much longer we will be on the road, I am ready to give an answer. Setting markers along the way can help you determine your progress and whether you are on track to obtain your goal in the time allotted.
Once you have developed your goals, make yourself accountable to someone. Sit down with this individual and discuss your vision and your goals. You are more likely to follow through with your goals if you make them known to at least one person. Do not pick someone that will agree with you and help make excuses for you. Select an individual that will hold you accountable.
Do something daily towards the completion of your goals. Regardless of how great or small your goal, act on it daily. One reason goals are not executed is because there are often only vain babblings about the goal instead of action toward the goal. Be obsessed with making your goals a reality!
Make 2009 a year that you can look back on as a productive year, not another year of good intentions and poor execution.