Susan Riley | January 2014

Resolve to Set Goals that Matter

Already, I can see it.  The promise of resolutions set just two weeks ago are starting to unravel.  We get to the 1st of January every year and resolve to do better – to be better – to act better.  In our classrooms and our homes, we have the very best of intentions.  But somehow we slip back into normalcy all too soon.

What’s great about our resolutions of doing, being and acting better is that they are all verbs.  They are actions we have complete control over.  What they most certainly are NOT are things that matter.  Just setting out to have an action towards “better” isn’t enough – we must have an action that is specific and measurable.  That’s not a resolution – that’s a goal.

Goals are things that we can set for ourselves that propel our motion towards progress forward.  They are small actions that lead to larger change.  That’s why this year I challenge us all to set just 3 goals: one for our work, one for our family and one for ourselves.  Why just 3?  Because like all things, we can get overwhelmed by too many “things” to do.  Refining our goals to just 3 items is manageable and forces us to think about what we can do – what actions we can create – that will make a true difference in our lives.

Classroom Goals

Think about what you truly want to accomplish with your students this year.  Go back to August in your mind – all that promise! – and reflect on what you’ve learned about your students since then.  That promise still exists – now you just have a better understanding of the map to get them where you need them to be by June.  Use that map to think about what one change you can make to help your students succeed even more.  Is it using “I Can” statements consistently? Is it bringing in more opportunities for STEAM, Arts, or Technology integration? Is it attending to the social/emotional health of the class?  Pick ONE THING that will bring your classroom to life again as we hit the second half of the school year.

By the way…this goal-setting idea works with your students, too.  Give them the chance to set their own 3 goals and watch them soar to meet them!

Family Goals

This is a great opportunity for us to connect as and with parents.  When you think about your own family and what one goal will make an impact with them this year, you’ll find it much easier to connect with the parents of your students as well.  Many parents are struggling right now to help their child at home with the new expectations and assignments being demanded by Common Core.  Think about how frustrating that must be – and what one goal you can suggest for them to be a support to their child.  Parents are yearning for this and it’s a great way to truly make learning a 24/7 experience.

Personal Goals

This is such an important component to any resolution or goal setting process – you need to have one for yourself!  Too often, we are so concerned with helping everyone else that we neglect our own growth.  Living isn’t living if you aren’t growing!  Take some time to think about what you really want to accomplish for yourself this year – what will make the difference in your own growth as a person, teacher, parent or spouse?  Invest in that one thing – take a class, set aside time, or simply pick up a new hobby – and watch yourself flourish!

We can all have our best year ever in 2014.  Let’s commit to creating 3 goals that matter and resolve to stick with them.  I can’t wait to see where we are in December!

What are your goals for this year?  It’s always easier to stick with a goal when you have a community behind you.  Share your goals with us and let us support each other!

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan