By Andrew Hawk
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This describes the type of goals many teachers make at the beginning of a school year. These goals are tracked throughout the year, and the success of the goals is factored into teachers’ evaluations. This is the function of SMART goals at my school and many others.
These goals have great potential for summer too. Have you ever left school for the summer thinking of all the things you want to complete during the summer months, only to let your time slip away? Creating SMART goals specifically for the summer months can help you complete your summer to-do list. The detail that I want to emphasize is to make your goals measurable. Here are a few ideas you might try if you are looking for SMART goals to try this summer.
If there is not a book on your radar, set a goal to read a certain number of professional articles. An example of a goal would be: “During the summer, I will read one article per week that relates to my teaching position.” Another idea is: “By the end of summer, I will read one book that relates to my teaching position and will take notes about each chapter.”
Attend or Lead a Workshop
The summer months bring lots of professional development opportunities. Some school districts offer their own trainings, while others are willing to pay to send their teachers to professional development sessions elsewhere. If you cannot find an opportunity that suits you, consider developing a workshop to share with your colleagues.
Plan a New Unit
Don’t get stuck teaching the same material year after year. Use the summer months to brainstorm and plan fun and exciting units. You can write your SMART goal focusing on the content and the number of units you want to plan.
Write Letters to Students
This will only work if you still have access to your past students’ addresses. Many students would enjoy getting a letter from a former teacher wishing them well or offering a few words of encouragement. Your goal could be a total number of letters sent over the summer or a number of letters sent per week.
Research Your New Class
At my school, class lists are distributed prior to the end of the school year. If you have access to your new class list before summer ends, make a goal to complete some sort of research on your new students. Even if the goal is just to talk to students’ previous teachers, the information you learn will help you get off to a fast start the next school year.
Make a New Contact
Networking is a valuable tool in any profession and especially in education. Make a goal to step outside your bubble and make a new professional contact. You could reach out to someone on a website such as LinkedIn, contact a teacher at a neighboring school, or search out a guest speaker for the upcoming school year. Your goal could focus on connecting with a certain number of people or on the number of times you correspond with one new contact.
Scout a Site for a New Field Trip
I know a lot of us teachers buy into the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” cliché. I have known grade-level teams that have taken the same field trips for ten or more years. It is fine to stay in your comfort zone if you already take engaging field trips. However, there is no harm in looking around. Do a little research to see if anything new has opened in your local area or in a nearby city that would make a good field trip. Write your goal with a certain number of ideas for prospective field trips in mind.
Design a WebQuest
Oh, WebQuests, one of the founding activities of technology integration. When I was completing my bachelor’s degree at Indiana University, we were required to take a class that focused on making WebQuests. If you are unfamiliar with the term, a WebQuest is an assignment in which you have students visit a series of websites. The websites usually focus on a specific topic or theme, and students are typically required to complete activities at each website. Even though WebQuests seem to have tapered off in recent years, they still have educational value. When I was a classroom teacher, I liked to write WebQuests to accompany my social studies lessons. Consider a goal to prepare and try one or more WebQuests.
Brainstorm Ways to Promote College Readiness
I believe that students are never too young to hear about college. I know that if you teach a younger elementary grade, college seems like it is really far off in the future for your students. However, the more exposure students have to the idea of secondary schooling, the more likely they are to attend it. Putting the idea of attending secondary schooling in the minds of students could also motivate them to try harder to acquire academic skills. Try writing a goal to come up with a certain number of ways you will promote college readiness. These can be as simple as talking to your class about the academic work you completed in college. One of the years I was teaching at my first school, each teacher chose a college and decorated a bulletin board in his or her classroom dedicated to the selected college. Come up with an idea that meets the needs of your students.
Try a New Relaxation Technique
Summer vacation is great for having time off to recharge your batteries, but what about when you need to recharge during the regular school year? I have seen many different relaxation techniques advertised online and have heard about others through word of mouth. For the past couple years, I have been interested in trying meditation, but I never seem to block off the few minutes it would take to try it. This summer, I am going to make a SMART goal to use a new relaxation technique for at least 30 minutes every week (either the same technique over and over or several techniques a single time each). Do a little research and find a relaxation technique that you want to try!
Bonus! Download a free printable SMART goals worksheet.
Andrew Hawk has worked in public education for 16 years, starting as a teaching assistant in a special education classroom. He has taught first, second, and fifth grades as a classroom teacher, and for the past five years, has worked as a resource room teacher, providing services for fourth and fifth graders. Working as a special education teacher has given him the opportunity to work with a variety of age groups and exceptionalities. Andrew earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Indiana University East in Richmond, Indiana. In 2011, he earned his master’s degree in special education from Western Governor’s University, and in 2016, he completed a second master’s degree in educational leadership, also from WGU. When Andrew is not preparing for school, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter.
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