How to Set Goals After a Conference

list of three takeaways

Think of an incredibly awesome art education conference you attended. Nothing is better than the feeling of renewed energy and excitement for your career! (If you’ve never attended an art education conference before, check out 8 Reasons to Attend an Art Ed Conference.)

Hopefully, you were surrounded by inspirational educators, whether it was online or face-to-face. You likely saw some amazing presentations that got you excited to get back to your classroom and your artists. You probably left the conference with a big smile on your face, energized, inspired, and ready to take on the world. Your brain was filled with exciting lesson ideas, new classroom management hacks, fun new art materials, and endless resources to try!

Teacher working on an artwork during a conference

But, what happens once you get back to reality? How do you take your conference excitement and use your new ideas in your post-conference life? How do you set a goal and stick with it?

First, try making a SMART goal. A SMART Goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Maybe you’ve heard of SMART goals before. They can be incredibly useful for incorporating new ideas into your classroom. Download a goal-setting resource here. Holding yourself accountable to the requirements of a SMART goal can help you build an attainable goal for yourself.

Here are some other tips to help hold yourself accountable:

1. Pick your “Big Three” Takeaways

Once the conference is over, determine your “Big Three” takeaways. Which presenter left you on the edge of your seat excited about a new idea? Did you try an art material you know your students will love? Did you learn about a new resource that would be a perfect tie-in to your art curriculum?

Make a visual list of those “Big Three” takeaways. Post the list above your paper cutter or in a space you often see in your classroom. Remember, your “Big Three” takeaways can and should be simple to incorporate. You don’t need to totally revamp your classroom after a great conference, but a visual goal list will act as a reminder of your goals to make you a better teacher.

list of three takeaways

2. Hold Each Other Accountable

Sometimes you need to have an outside source hold you accountable for something to make it come to fruition. It can take that extra push to make something become a reality. By saying your goals out loud to a fellow educator, it might help you to fulfill your goal. If you have regular weekly team meetings, ask your peers what goals they are working on and what progress they have made toward accomplishing that goal.

Again, it doesn’t need to be an overwhelming goal, but sometimes, even the simplest things can get swept under the rug when we get back into our daily routines. Holding each other accountable and checking in may stop that sneaky rug sweep from happening.

3. Remember, It’s Never Too Late!

Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you still haven’t completed your goals, it’s okay. You’re still a great teacher! Sometimes you just need to step back and have a little perspective. Just because you didn’t try that new paper weaving lesson you saw at a conference the very next week you were back in your classroom doesn’t mean you failed. Time is not up. Throughout your entire teaching career, you will continue to learn and grow and become the best art educator you can be.

Nic Hahn might have said it best in Episode 104: Goal or Soul?  Ask yourself, “Does this reach a goal? Does this feed my soul?” and give yourself time to reflect on your goals. Be understanding about what you need to prioritize in your life.

poster sign for art teachers

Aside from setting goals post-conference, you may also want to check out 3 Ways to Set Goals for Your Own Career. As long as you continue to have an open mind about growing professionally, you are on the right track.

Speaking of ridiculously relevant Art Ed Conferences, you won’t want to miss Art Ed Now Winter 2020! Click here to register.

What was your favorite takeaway from an art education conference?
How do you like to hold yourself accountable for incorporating new ideas?
What is your favorite part about attending an art ed conference?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Sarah Krajewski

Sarah Krajewski, an elementary school art educator, is AOEU’s Social Media Content Creator and a former AOEU Writer.

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