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Setting Personal Teaching Goals

Every year I try to improve my practice.  Every year I meet with my administrator to discuss my professional goals for the year.  My personal goals for my teaching and my official professional goals are two different things.  Here's why.

School Improvement Plan

One of your official goals should mirror your school's improvement plan.  Every school has one, but it may be called "long-term planning" or something else in a private school.  School improvement plans are generally inspired by statistics generated from standardized testing.  As such, they generally involve regular classroom subjects, so your first official goal should involve collaboration with regular classroom teachers. 

Here's a link to the Durham, North Carolina Public School's improvement plan.  It's an official document signed by the high mucky mucks in the district.  I'm noticing some aspects of the plan that would be very good for a music teacher to concentrate on. 

1. Hispanic and econimically disadvantaged children are not meeting annual yearly progress (AYP) in reading. 
Goal: To take the Hispanic music workshop given by your local Kodaly chapter and follow it up with a visit to a teacher who incorporates loads of Spanish songs into her lessons.


Goal: To incorporate more songs of Hispanic origin into your lessons.  Two songs per plan level; e.g. if you use the same plan for grades 2 and 3 then two songs for that level. 

Why?  By using more Spanish language music in your classes to prepare reading concepts, you create a learning environment where the struggling children's culture is celebrated.  This celebration gives them more of a sense of pride and ownership of their work and makes them more engaged.  By improving their engagement in music literacy, you inspire more engagement in all literacy.

2. The district is committed to having a professional and highly-qualified staff.  They mention professional development. 
 Goal: To attend two workshops by your local Kodaly and/or Orff chapter and to maintain professional membership in those organizations. 

Why?  You are going to attend these workshops anyway or you really want to attend them and don't want excuses not to.  These workshops are inspiring and fun.  Go to them!  Also, having this as one of your goals predisposes your principal to pay for the memberships!

3. Family and community engagement needs to be increased. 

Goal:  To invite parents into the classroom for an informance (information+performance) sample lesson during the course of the year.

Why?  Informances are much more fun and educationally sound than performances, especially at the lower elementary grade levels.  Informances are during the day and fit their earlier bedtime and don't take time from your family!  Bringing the parents into the school during the day exposes them to the school more, a goal of the district.   I've found that the most inspiring districts use informances more than performances at the elementary level.

Professional goals should be designed to be easily and happily achievable, fit your school's improvement plan, and impress the hell out of your principal!
 Personal Goals
 Personal teaching goals are those things that you feel are holding you back and you need to work honestly with a trusted person to be accountable and achieve them with a real possibility of failure before success.  These goals expose your vulnerability.  Official goals go on your official papers in your file.  You need to make sure that you achieve them easily and look fabulous doing it.  Personal goals need never be written down.  They can include classroom management improvement, learning to love or just tolerate certain students, improving planning, and improving your skills.  Here are some examples of personal goals.   These are mine for this year.

1.  I want to enjoy teaching the older grade levels more.  I really like these kids and their skill development, but I haven't made my lessons fun enough.  I want it to be more seamless.  

Why not make this an official goal?  I'd be admitting that I'm a boring teacher.  Never a good idea.  And I'm not boring, I just want to be more riveting.  There's just no way to word that without sounding bad in an official document. 

How will I achieve this goal?  I'm dedicated to putting at least two games in each lesson for grades 4 and higher.  Fun and joy need to head each lesson and the concepts for the day need to be drawn from those games along with choral music.  I did a curriculum map for the year with games and fun songs plugged into the concepts to insure that I use them. I've stressed the choral music way too much in the past and lost a lot of the fun.  I need to make learning the choral music more fun too.  Knowing the scores better and really ripping them apart and making reading them a game would help.  I chose octavos that facilitate this kind of work. 

 2. I want to play piano for my students more.  I need to increase my confidence in performing piano.  

Why not make this an official goal?  My performance anxiety about piano is very personal and a private struggle of mine.  I don't automatically trust a boss with this kind of struggle.  I'm working on it with my husband and a dear friend who got me into teaching music.  Such personal struggles and triumphs are too close and private to share with my boss. It's a matter of trust.  

How will I achieve this goal?  I dedicated my summer to loads of piano practice and achieve a much higher level of personal performance.  I am using piano for teaching music reading skills to my students.  They will find mistaken rhythms, fill in missing repeat signs, and sing songs that I wrote to piano accompaniments that were songs in my book this summer.  Teaching basic piano literacy is part of upper elementary curriculum this year, I'm hoping that this will make us all into pianists and empower the kids to learn and practice too.  I am more comfortable practicing at school now and I am pleasing my colleagues who come into the multi-purpose room and say nice things as I play.  That feels good and helps with my confidence.   


Unknown said…
Thank you for sharing this. My appraisal is this year and the process starts with my Annual Lesrning Plan. I'll take a look at my school and board's strategic plan for inspiration....
Family Be* said…
I like your ideas very much!
Mindvalley said…
Informative and interesting Blog! Beautifully written, as usual, I like the post. Thank you so much for nice sharing with us. Keep posting!

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