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10 Realistic Goals for the New Year

Well… it’s that time of year again. 2015 is winding down making it a nice time to reflect. Of course, we reflect on the ups and downs of the waning calendar year, but we can also pause to weigh in on the first half of the academic year. What resolutions did you set at the beginning of the year? How are they going? Have those once fertile dreams of a new organization system dried and hardened like that one clay project you forgot to cover? Or, are you rocking a new assessment strategy that has you glowing like you do after pulling out the glitter? Either way, the new year is a great time to take stock of your teaching and set new goals for the back half of the school year.

I’m a firm believer that goal setting trumps resolutions every time. Resolutions are “all or nothing” ultimatums we set with ourselves. “This is the year I finally will…” fill in the blank and fail! Last year, I took a cue from a friend from my professional learning network and abandoned the resolution route. Instead, I set goals and then even stretched those goals so I could keep on achieving throughout the year. Goals are S.M.A.R.T.er (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) than resolutions, and that’s why they succeed.

I’ll be the first to admit that while I did achieve a number of my 2015 goals, they were the wrong goals. They were primarily about my own development and how I could become the best teacher. I didn’t really think about how they would affect my students.

abstract man

These goals were narcissistic and revolved around building up the “McCormick Teaching Brand.” (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.) These goals were more about broad influence and less about a deeper, more immediate impact.

But now I’ve learned my lesson! I’m going to give the pep talk that I wish I could’ve given myself back at the end of 2014. Fair warning: there are lots of exclamation points.

10 Realistic Goals for the New Year

1. Take a field trip with your students.
Don’t let “no’s” from administrators in the past deter you from asking. What’s the worst that could happen? Just do it!

students on a field trip

2. Try out a few new projects.
If you’re feeling especially daring, try out a few projects that get you thinking and working under a whole new paradigm. Maybe 2016 is the year to dabble with Teaching for Artistic Behavior, Choice-Based Art Education, Studio Habits of Mind, or STEAM.

3D printed heads of Yoda and Darth Vadar
3D printed heads from our new makerspace

3. Start up an art club.
Some of your most creative students need more art than their schedules afford. Be that outlet for them!

4. Say yes to hosting a pre-service teacher.
I’ve had countless field experience students and they have always added so much to my own teaching. Whether it’s a great collaborative partner or a struggling pre-service teacher, both have allowed me to reflect on my practice and give something back to the profession that I love.

5. Write and receive a grant to better your classroom.
Don’t be satisfied with your current funding levels. There are plenty of local and national ways to find money. Be creative!

6. Start a blog or website to better connect your classroom with your community and your students’ parents.
Use social networks and technology to promote your students’ artwork.

screenshot of classroom Instagram feed

7. Put on a big art show to showcase your amazing students.
Don’t just settle on the little conference art show that may or may not be held in your community. Put on a big ole’ gala right in your building. Play music! Wear costumes!

8. Submit your students’ work into prestigious competitions.
Have you ever wondered what all the fuss about the Scholastic Art Awards was about? This is the year you find out!

9. Grow your Professional Learning Network (PLN).
Try using social media to connect and collaborate with teachers outside your immediate geographic area.

10. Pitch a presentation for the NAEA (or your state’s organization) Annual Conference.
While it can be scary to think about putting yourself out there, sharing is caring. If you’ve got some great ideas and practices you should share them!

So there you have it, ten realistic goals you can shoot for next year. Don’t try to do them all! Pick one or two and rock them.

Do you do goals, resolutions, or something else? What’s on your list this year?

Andrew McCormick


This article was written by former AOE writer Andrew McCormick, a STEAM, PBL, and tech integration specialist.