SMART GOALS  “Focus on the big Rocks”

As we are embarking on setting up our SMART Goals for the 2014-2015 school year, it can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task at first, specifically when we want to establish an effective student learning goal. I’m hoping the following strategies will help support you in turning a goal into a SMARTER goal.

STEP 1: How do I even begin?
A great place to begin in deciding on a goal is to review the following items:

1.  Self-Assessment.  You want to take some time to see how you rate yourself and your skills against the educator evaluation rubrics.  If there are areas that you are in the Needs Improvement category, you would want to start there.  Also, are there some areas that you rate yourself as proficient, but would really like to work towards exemplary?

2.  End-of Year Evaluation.  Take a look back at your end of year evaluation (summative or formative) and determine if there were areas that were identified to work on for the following school year.

3.  Evidence.  Analyze student data or other pieces of data to determine if there are areas you would like to target in your professional practice or for student learning.  In doing so, think about what the “big rocks” would be for making a significant impact in student learning.

4.  District Strategic Plans and School Improvement Plans.  Alignment is really important for the district to move together on common goals.  Your goals should be aligned to the District and School Goals, so it is a great place to begin.

5.  Interest.  Think about areas you are really eager to take on and what you are ready yourself to make a priority.  You have to have self-interest in the goal you are about to undertake.

STEP 2:  Power of collaboration
Not all goals have to be individual goals.  There is a lot of power to collaborating with your peers at your grade level or department on a similar goal.  Look to see if there is an opportunity to create a Team Goal.  This provides focus and clarity for the group and is a way to maximize the impact of the goals.  It avoids the feeling of being off on an “island to oneself” and fosters new ideas from the collaboration.

STEP 3:  Write a draft of the elements of the goal
Sometimes you just have to begin with writing your thoughts down.  It won’t be in a perfect form at first, but it is a necessary step.  Then work through this process:

1.  Identify WHY this topic is important and strategic. (Strategic)

2.  Write down a draft of the goal objective.

3.  For professional practice goals:  identify what skills, knowledge or practice you will acquire through achieving the goal.  (Specific, Rigorous)  For student learning goals:  identify what class, grade span are the focus.(Results Focused)

3.  Identify when you will achieve the goal.  (Realistic, Timed)

4.  How will you demonstrate progress?  (Action Oriented)

5.  How will you know it will be achieved?  (Measurable)

STEP 4:  Put it all together

Example including all elements in a professional practice goal:
As part of our school’s mission to improve college and career readiness for all 
students and close the achievement gap, (WHY)  I will work with school staff (WHO) to raise the 
enrollment of African American and Latino males in honors, AP and enrichment 
courses (RESULTS)by 10 percent each year over a 2-year period(WHEN) through targeted outreach 
to teachers and students, increased learning about and exposure to enrichment 
opportunities by students in 9th grade, and individualized support (HOW) to better align 
student interests and abilities to appropriate, rigorous courses (STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT).

Example including all elements in a student learning goal:
In recognizing the importance of effectively communicating mathematical thinking, (WHY) the grade 4 team (WHO) will create open-ended performance tasks (at least one task in each of the five domains outlined in the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics) (HOW) to assist students with developing higher order thinking skills in mathematics (WHY).  By June, (WHEN) all grade 4 students (WHO) will demonstrate mastery of 80 percent of the processes that effectively communicate thinking on open-ended higher order thinking tasks (TARGET), as measured by a teacher-created common rubric (MEASUREMENT).

STEP 5:  Once you have a goal, the next steps includes creating the action steps, benchmarks and timelines that will help you get there.
The best exemplars for what this looks like can be found within your district and school improvement plans.

Check out the Mendon-Upton Regional School District Strategic Plan as an example.
SMART Goals – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires


3  Big Ideas that Drive the Professional Learning Community Process

BIG IDEA #!:  The purpose of the school is to ensure that all students learn at high levels.  So educators working in a professional learning community need to clarify the following questions:
1.  What is it that we want our students to know?
2.  How do we know if our students are learning?
3.  How will we respond when students do not learn?
4.  How will we enrich and extend the learning for students who are proficient?

BIG IDEA #2:  To help all student learn requires teachers to work collaboratively in teams.  Time for collaboration is embedded in the routine practices of school.  Educators are clear on the priorities during collaboration.

BIG IDEA #3:  Educators must be “hungry for evidence of student learning and use that evidence to drive continuous improvement of the PLC process”  Every member must work together to achive SMART goals that are:
1.  strategically aligned with school and district goals
2.  measurable
3.  attainable
4.  results-oriented
5.  time-bound

Dufour, R., and Marzano, R.J.  2011.  Leaders of Learning:  How District, School and Classroom Leaders Improve Student Achievement, Solution Tree Press.

One area in schools that is ideal for building professional learning communities is within departments.  What SMART goals is your department working on this year?  Curriculum revision?  Common Core alignment?  Technology integration?  Differentiated instructional practices?