Group of Multiethnic People Holding Goals

Goal Setting Leads to Success

Taking advice from an educational mentor-coach can set a new teacher up for victory in the classroom and beyond.

Let’s paint a picture: it’s your senior year and graduation is just months away. You have completed your student teaching internship and your final set of courses.  You have been struggling, however, with how to begin the process of transitioning from a college student into your career as a teacher who can make a meaningful impact. As your mentor-coach, I would sit down with you and guide you through the goal planning process, offering information that will support a teaching career of longevity and prosperity.

One of the ways to be successful is to plan. So, prior to the beginning of your first school year, I strongly recommend that you take some time to think about what your short, mid-, and long-term goals are as a teacher.  Before you do any goal setting, however, I advise that you deter mine what your own professional vision and mission statements are. Your professional teacher goals should be an extension of your educational philosophy.

You probably want to begin with developing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result-Oriented, and Time-Bound) goals. These types of goals are available for two reasons: 1) To make sure the goals you have set are attainable, and 2) To help monitor progress toward achieving your goals over the course of the school year.  As you track your progress, it will be important to do a “temperature check” or “quick reflection” to make sure the mission you are on aligns with the vision you have set for yourself as a teacher.

Your approach to your new career choices should be similar to how an athlete prepares mentally and physically for competition on the field.  As a new teacher, you will learn that there is always a lot to do; however, it is important that you focus and prioritize your actions.  Legendary UCLA basketball John Wooden once said, “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.”  In other words, do not get too engaged with trying to complete so many tasks that you disregard any progress you have made towards achieving the goals set for yourself.

 Taking inventory of your strengths and anticipating obstacles will help in establishing goals.  Below are some examples of teacher actions you need to consider when developing and prioritizing your short-to-long term goals as a new teacher:

 Short-term –

  • Establish your presence and the kind of teacher you want to be (strict, funny, lenient, ideal, friendly)
  • Establish a classroom management style
  • Establish a daily routine for classroom flow and procedures
  • Set clear expectations for your students
  • Organize classroom resources

 Mid-term –

  • Incorporate new teaching strategies
  • Implement technology
  • Use differentiation when teaching
  • Collaborate with other teachers in the school

 Long-term –

  • Attend educator workshops, seminars, and nationwide events
  • Become an ambassador for education in your community
  • Connect with a mentor that has accomplished similar career goals in education (i.e. superintendent, principal, long-term teacher, etc.)

Ultimately, the options listed above are all part of a strategic planning process for your education career. This kind of planning helps you identify where you are, define where you want to go, and map out the path to get there. As an education administrator, one of my initial primary goals was to make sure I was in a position where I could focus my passion on things that came naturally for me such as communicating with individual and large bodies of students to build relationships toward helping them to achieve their goals.  I also wanted to be able to help place others in a position to have an impact through education.  Knowing my ultimate vision propelled me forward and motivated me to achieve my goal. Yet, it was just as important to know that it takes hard work, planning, and execution to establish a solid foundation for career triumphs and successes.

Here’s a closing thought: “A hard worker will be more successful than a skilled worker if the skilled worker does not have a plan and work ethic.” This is a reminder for anyone in education to stay resilient in your quest to achieve your goals without getting complacent.

Coach King’s 5 Keys to Career Achievement:

  1. Commitment- Follow through on goals and stay the course
  2. Consistency- Complete all tasks big or small during the journey with maximum effort each time
  3. Optimism- Have comfort and mental toughness during times of uncertainty
  4. Organization- Keep pace with short, mid- and long-term goals
  5. Preparation- Remember the 5 P’s (Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance)

Written by Derrick King