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How many times have you seen, heard, or said, “New year, new me!” at this time of year? With a new year comes the opportunity to set your intentions and resolve to improve your life. As the reflective art teacher-leader you are, this possibility is exciting. The only thing that puts a damper on your elation is the ghost of past unaccomplished goals. Never fear! It’s time to chase away those ghosts and set yourself up to meet your goals this year.
Reflective art teacher-leaders are constantly reviewing all areas of their lives for ways to enhance their practices. Goal setting is the process of formalizing this review to affect measurable change in the classroom. Goals are linked to higher motivation, self-esteem, self-confidence, and autonomy. When you set goals, your brain rewires to achieve what you want to accomplish. Specific goals are most likely to help you achieve what you want in your classroom.
Make a list of parts of your art teacher life you want to focus on. AOEU presents thirteen pillars to start with.
Here’s how you can apply the pillars to your goal setting:
You may come up with something like this:
Categorize the goals you drafted according to achievability. You need challenging goals so your brain will be motivated to achieve them. If your goals are too easy, you will quickly lose interest. If your goals are too rigorous and out of reach, you will quickly give up.
Use these achievability categories to help you organize your goals:
Consider selecting at least one stretch and one challenge goal. This will give you something to work towards without overwhelming you in the process. Strike a balance between difficult and impossible.
Measure your goals according to the SMART metric to develop a growth mindset. SMART goals give purpose, direction, and organization to what you are trying to accomplish so that you are more likely to succeed.
Answer the following questions to align your goals with the SMART metric:
Transform the general goals you drafted into achievable ones. Start by stating the specific things you want to accomplish and why. Then, state what you are going to do to succeed, and end with a time frame for your goal.
Follow these examples:
Paint a poster of your goal to hang by your desk. Draw your goal on a mirror in your house or classroom. Write it on a sticky note for your calendar or computer back. Jot it down in the margin of your plan book. Anything that will routinely bring you face-to-face with your goal will work!
1. Set benchmarks for check-ins along the way.
Benchmarks help you measure where you want to be at each stage of your journey. Think of them as mini-goals under the umbrella of what you are ultimately aiming for. Check your progress against these benchmarks to keep you on track and remind you of how much you have accomplished!
Here’s an example:
2. Determine action steps to get you started.
Action steps are the things you will do to get you working towards your goal. Is there research you need to do? Are there knowledgeable professionals you can contact? Do you need to make a checklist or a spreadsheet? What is the first step you can take?
Let’s continue the assessment example:
3. Expect to fail, but adopt a growth mindset.
More likely than not, you will miss some of your benchmarks or deadlines. That is okay! It is completely normal to fall behind or miss some. When this happens, simply readjust and keep going. Be flexible with your big and small goals, and be gracious with yourself along the way.
4. Share your goals to help keep you accountable.
Being accountable to someone other than yourself can be a great motivator. Your teacher bestie, an online community, a trusted supervisor, or even your students can support you.
5. Celebrate the little wins as you go.
It takes hard work to achieve the stretch and challenge goals. Did you take your first step? Did you meet a benchmark? Did you fail to meet a deadline but kept going anyways? Take the time to celebrate it all. Recognize and take pride in what you are accomplishing!
When you finally achieve what you set out to do, make a big deal out of it! Treat yourself to a spa day, get a bite at your favorite restaurant, or order new art supplies. Plan a trip, buy some artwork from your favorite artist, or share your success with your art teacher community. Reward yourself without hesitation because you chased away the ghosts of unaccomplished goals and got it done. Next year, you can more confidently say, “New year, new me!”
What is one achievable goal you set for yourself this year?
What is the first step you will take to work toward this goal today?
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.