Gooooooal! declares the sports announcer. Gooooooal! exclaims my jubilant husband. The excitement of my Argentinean spouse as his soccer (or rather football) team scores a goal is contagious.
Gooooool! I cry. Or, at least I do in my mind. The goals I celebrate are different than football goals. They are aspirations.
I am a principal, serving students with a broad range of interests, curiosities, and capabilities; helping them discover themselves as they are in the present and supporting them to embrace the potential in themselves as they are becoming. I am a supervisor, assisting teachers to recognize and build on their current skills, while guiding them to envision themselves as the increasingly skilled activators of student learning they are becoming. I live in a world of imagining the possible.
It’s professional goal setting time at school and I’m so proud I feel almost ready to sing out in celebration: gooooooal!
I meet, one on one, with each teacher. I meet as a group with our professional leadership team (myself, assistant principal, psychologist, and admissions director), during which time each of us set a professional goal; a particular area that will support student learning in which to delve deep. These are not necessarily our school-wide goals and strategic plan, although often times they reflect school-wide momentum and effort. These are individual goals; reflecting our unique professional journeys. By no means the whole of our work; our goals nonetheless ground our aspirations, reminding us that professional learning, like learning more broadly, is a process, benefitting from focus, time and dedication.
Some goals our teachers have chosen for themselves include:
- To develop a broader, more nuanced approach to assessing student learning and to utilize gleanings from those assessments to plan ongoing instruction
- To create a learning environment in which all students participate actively in both full class and small collaborative group activities
- To gain greater skill in designing differentiated learning experiences for collaborative and independent student learning
- To strengthen relationships with parents utilizing technology and face to face connection
- To develop greater comfort and skill in teaching math, including differentiation for strong students
- To in a serious way collaborate with members of the grade level team in order to support student learning
My own goal is to improve the quality and effectiveness of our supervisory, evaluative, and support processes for teachers.
We’ve only just begun, and many of our teachers are still setting goals. Each goal includes an action plan, supports for meeting the goal, and means by which we will assess success. We will monitor progress throughout the year and evaluate ourselves based on growth.
While proud of our teachers, I worry. Will we be pulled back by the many obstacles constantly present – limited time, limited resources, the priorities of others? Will we be distracted by the crises that inevitably occur? Will we be drained by the pressures to move perhaps too quickly toward our goals, neglecting to reflect, change course as needed, and adapt when necessary?
Or will we ponder, embrace support, and consider our course carefully? Will we pace ourselves thoughtfully in order to make meaningful progress over the long haul? Will we consider multiple approaches toward meeting our goals? Will we remain open to alternative perspectives and approaches? Will we seek to learn from our strengths and successes as well as from our missteps and mistakes?
What advice do you have for us? We welcome your wisdom.