Top 10 Qualities Of Effective Teachers: #5: Remain Focused On Goals
Our teachers at Shady Oak are committed to effectiveness. Parents—the first and most consistent teachers their children know—can cultivate like qualities in themselves.
Mediocre teachers start with big dreams, but have few lasting goals. Star teachers set solid goals and stick to them.
It’s well known that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. (In fact, if you make a “wish list” of goals and commit only to looking at it every few weeks, that alone will improve your chances of seeing those goals become reality.) Yet it often does happen that someone writes out a list of ambitious goals, puts the list away somewhere, and never makes another inch of progress.
Here are a few ideas to remain focused on goals so as to maximize chances of achieving them.
Make Them SMART
SMART is a common acronym for defining effective goals. Although not everyone uses the five letters in exactly the same way, the acronym always focuses on the same core ideas. Here’s one version:
- Specific: Is the goal defined in enough detail to let you clearly picture the results?
- Measurable: Does it include statistical criteria to make its eventual achievement obvious (e. g., “See 90% of my students fill out college applications” vs. “Encourage more students to plan on college”)?
- Attainable: Is it ambitious, but not impossibly so?
- Relevant: Does it fit with your other priorities, dreams, and values?
- Time-sensitive: Have you set a deadline for achieving it?
Goals that meet these criteria are easier to focus on, because they’re easier to visualize and track progress toward.
Put Them Where You Can See Them
Although it can work to entrust your goals to your subconscious, they deserve better. Have something you refer to regularly—a written list, a calendar, a smartphone alert, even a collage illustrating desired results—that will keep your goals in front of you where they won’t die of neglect.
Don’t let “familiarity breeds contempt” do them in, either. Every month or two, change your goals’ physical location or your schedule for goal reviews, to keep your enthusiasm fresh.
Celebrate Small Victories
If you neglect acknowledging progress until a long-term goal is actually achieved, your enthusiasm will suffer because all you have to look at is the “endless” road ahead. So celebrate milestones along the way: if it’s your goal to have 100% of the students in your “low-achievement” class raise their GPAs by 10% this year, throw a class party with all-around congratulations the first time everyone passes a test, or when the overall GPA goes up 1%, or when you get a compliment from your supervisor on the improvement. Try to celebrate a milestone at least once a month.
Goals are key to accomplishment, success, and fulfillment. Don’t let a day pass without focusing on them!