Ready, Set, Goals!
Professional Goals for Teachers [Ideas, Tips & Examples]
What are your top goals as a teacher? For most educators, the list probably starts with making the most meaningful difference in the lives of your students.
Of course, there are many other professional goals shared by teachers across all grade levels and disciplines.
However, amid the demands of running classrooms and teaching those inquisitive — and, yes, often distracted — young minds, it can be difficult to find a quiet moment or two to reflect on personal and/or professional goals that might be very important to you as a teacher.
10 Professional Development Goals for Teachers
1. Becoming a Better Teacher
Top teachers understand that embracing “lifelong learning” applies to educators as well as the students. This means fueling your desire to improve throughout your teaching career, through your reading and research (such as these tips on teacher preparation and planning), as well as through teacher workshops and other opportunities.
One of the best ways to continue improving your knowledge and skills is to regularly complete educator professional development courses and programs. A great way to keep up with new trends and teaching strategies, professional development courses are available on hundreds of important topics, including:
Technology is having an important impact on how education is evolving, as teachers implement new strategies and technological tools designed to enhance student learning and to prepare them for success in today’s digital world.
Of course, technology permeates our lives in countless ways, with most modern students glued to a screen for a big chunk of each day. Fighting technology is, of course, futile; finding valuable ways to incorporate it into your classroom can make a big difference for your students.
Some teachers are finding success using such tech teaching strategies as podcasting or engaging students and parents alike with a classroom website. The article “10 Ways to Use Technology in the Classroom” references such tools as Flipgrid and Google Classroom, a free web service used by an estimated 30 million teachers and students. Google Classroom is designed to help teachers more efficiently create, distribute and grade assignments, boost collaboration, offer instant feedback and foster seamless communication, all in an easy-to-use, paperless format. For teachers who find the Google’s G Suite for Education useful, there is also the option of becoming a Google Certified Educator.
3. Advocating for Continuous Lifelong Learning
Since most educators are also passionate lifelong learners, they understand the importance of instilling that “lifelong learning” ethos in the hearts and minds of their students as well. This is easier said than done, of course, but it helps to stay mindful of these themes:
- Mentoring students’ intellects by helping them develop problem-solving, critical- and creative-thinking skills
- Helping them find and hone their voice by working on developing communication skills and confidence in expressing themselves
- Inspiring students by demonstrating your belief in their abilities and providing the support they need to succeed in their academic challenges
Read about additional strategies in “8 Lesson Plans to Promote Lifelong Learning.”
4. Earning National Board Certification
Earning certification as a National Board Certified Teacher through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is a rigorous and expensive process. But according to the organization, “The evidence is clear. Board-certified teachers positively impact student learning.”
NBPTS describes the program as an “opportunity to connect professional learning with classroom practice (that) brings to life a teacher’s experience, helping them reflect on individual student learning needs” (see video).
The National Board embraces five core propositions regarding “what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do to have a positive impact on student learning.”
- Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
- Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.
- Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
- Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
- Teachers are members of learning communities.
For one educator’s perspective on why earning NBPTS certification was “totally worth it,” check out Cult of Pedagogy education blogger Jennifer Gonzalez’s report on “Conquering National Board Certification.”
5. Sharpening Your Presentation Skills
Do you use tools like PowerPoint or Keynote to create slide educational presentations? Many teachers do, but the majority are probably no masters of this technology. Jennifer Gonzalez also draws on personal teaching experience to advocate for powering up your PowerPoint and overall presentation skills by reviewing the principles espoused in the book “Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery” (see video).
Key principles of “Presentation Zen” include:
- Limit text on slides: “Your slides are meant to supplement your talk, not provide all the content. If you stick to just a few words per slide – the most important ones – you’ll be forced to speak to your audience, which will be so much more engaging for them.” Additional details can be provided on a handout and perhaps assigned as reading. If your presentation is compelling, students will be more motivated to read more.
- Make it visual: “Images are incredibly powerful for making a point and strengthening cognitive processing. Anytime you can represent an idea visually, rather than just in text, your slides will actually be helping your students remember the concepts better.” Author Garr Reynolds elaborates in his “Presentation Zen” TEDx Talk.
- Tell a story: “Your overall message will stick much better if it’s told as a story. This may be challenging at first, but once you make the decision to find the story in the content, you may be surprised.”
6. Improving Classroom Management
Are your students consistently well-behaved, orderly and attentive? The answer to this question varies greatly among classroom teachers, and the methods for improving classroom management are of great interest to teachers of all grade levels and subject matter. After all, creating a more organized classroom can boost student engagement while reducing teacher stress.
Thoughtco.com offers several useful classroom management tips and suggests that the start of a new school year is the ideal time to implement any changes you may be considering. Tips include:
- Utilize a time management tool
- Use color-coding for visual organization
- Implement a homework checklist and/or homework contract
Online courses on classroom management are another highly effective way to treat yourself to a fresh look at your organizational habits and find room for improvement.
7. Expanding the Role of Parents
There are many well-documented benefits to getting parents more involved in the education of their children, and no shortage of strategies for making it happen. These include:
- Emphasizing an open-door policy
- Encouraging parents to come in and volunteer
- Assigning a family project
- Inviting parents to come to a Fun Friday event
- Assigning homework that includes family participation
- Using technology like podcasts or a website to connect parents to the classroom
The list of benefits is long and, according to LearningLiftoff.com, applies to parents, teachers and schools, as well as to the students themselves:
- Higher grades and test scores, enrollment in more advanced programs
- Better school attendance and homework completion rates
- Improved social skills and behavior
- Increased self-esteem
- Higher likelihood of graduation and advancement to post-secondary education
8. Finding a Mentor
Schools that have formal mentoring programs that pair veteran teachers with less-experienced counterparts have multiple benefits for both parties. Whether or not your school operates a formal mentoring program, you can always:
- Reach out to a more experienced colleague if you are new to teaching
- Offer a helping hand and an open ear to a younger colleague, if you have some experience under your belt
Learn more about strategies for and benefits of mentoring in the Schoolology.com post, “The Benefits & Importance of Educational Mentoring.” Beyond mentoring, per se, cultivating relationships with your teaching colleagues creates opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences, to serve as professional support networks and to increase in-school camaraderie while also developing friendships.
9. Adjusting Your Mindset
Do you dread certain aspects of your job, or are you excited and motivated to head off to school each day? Your mindset has “a powerful impact on how you experience your work and whether or not you continue to grow and thrive,” Jennifer Gonzalez writes in “Goal-Setting for Teachers: 8 Paths to Self-Improvement.”
She notes that reading is a great way to cultivate a healthy mindset, and recommends several books including “Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching” and “Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Every Day … No Matter What.”
Mindfulness is also championed by TeachHub.com in a post titled “A Teacher’s Professional Development Goals,” which suggests that focused breathing and intentioned awareness can help teachers, or professionals in any field, push out distractions and free the mind to focus fully on the task or matter at hand.
10. Taking Professional Development Courses
As a teacher, you spend many of your waking hours teaching courses — perhaps it’s time to consider taking one for a change. Educators regularly take professional development courses for a wide range of reasons, including some that connect directly to achieving the goals discussed above. Motivations include staying up to date on new teaching trends and strategies, positioning yourself for salary advancement or career opportunities, or simply following a particular passion or interest to expand your mind.
Plus, it’s easier than ever to do so now that more educational institutions are offering such learning opportunities online to provide greater scheduling flexibility for busy working teachers.
For example, the University of San Diego’s Division of Professional and Continuing Education offers hundreds of high-quality courses and certificate programs designed to motivate teachers, enhance instruction and stimulate student learning. Here are just a few of the topics:
Courses are taught by dedicated, experienced, engaging instructors, including many from the USD faculty. The university offers so many options that you are sure to find opportunities for professional growth that align with your interests and passions as an educator.
Discover Continuing Education Courses for Teachers at USD >>