Teacher goals (or a plea for help)

I have on my office wall a sheet of A4 paper with my goals on for the year. At the end of last year I typed them out and stuck the sheet on my wall, so that I felt I had some purpose to my life. Anyone who knows me would guess quite clearly that these were my goals: there are running related goals, financial goals, and even a goal relating to my ongoing research of my family tree lineage. 

And there, at the top of the list, is my one and only teaching goal: “To become an outstanding teacher”.

Now, this was written, as I say, before the New Year, when I was a slave to the grade. In the intervening period, much has changed with regard to lesson grading (i.e. it has effectively been killed off). I have reconciled myself with the fact that I will NOT be observed as outstanding, because such a conclusion of my teaching, and of my students’ learning, is not possible from a single lesson observation. 

But the goal has remained, and the fact it hasn’t yet been removed is partly due to the fact I don’t know what to replace it with. Because I don’t think teaching is as clear cut as the other areas of my life I have mentioned.

My other goals have pretty clear measurement. I can see how much I have in my savings account. I can see how fast I can run a 10k, or a half marathon. I can see my family tree building before my eyes. 

Yet in my day job, the one thing for which I am paid, and to which I dedicate the majority of my waking hours, I can’t think of a single goal that I can easily measure which I can solely and easily control. Indeed, in the ‘to be measured by’ column of my goal setting sheet, my teaching goal simply contained the word ‘observation’. That’s no good at all! Even before the shift in thinking, it was never going to be good enough. Now, it is certainly redundant.

With my other goals, I have a plan. I know, for example, that training two or three times a week will bring me closer towards my 10k goal. I may not reach it until my last opportunity for the year in September (indeed, I may not reach it at all), but I have already seen progress this year in bringing my time down by almost two minutes. I know, too, that I am reaching my savings target, because I can see the balance of my savings account increasing month after month. 

But I am really struggling to put together a goal for my teaching in the same vein. I know that writing this at this time of year is probably not the best time, and that teacher goals are perhaps best set in September, but I want to pick the collective brains that read this to ask:

  • are teacher goals possible?
  • what examples are you aware of/have you worked towards in the past?
  • how are/were the measured?

I would be really grateful for feedback, either left here or directly on Twitter.

Thanks in advance!



Not There…Yet!

As the title of both the blog and this post suggest, I am indeed a teacher aspiring to be ‘outstanding’. This blog is intended to be both a reflective record of my journey, as well as a place to connect with other like-minded teachers and share ideas, strategies and tips.

I understand many teachers feel that Outstanding is something that is not realistically achievable on a continuing basis, as it requires a ridiculous amount of effort and work that is unsustainable in the long run. I would offer the view that a) hard work should not be a barrier to anything (although of course I recognise that even with the best will in the world, it is impossible to get everything done every day); b) we should be aiming to be the best ALL the time – if we fail on occasions, so be it, and c) the amount of time spent will reduce over time as we adapt to a different way of working. 

So Outstanding is my aim, and in my 6th year of teaching, I feel I am getting there, albeit slowly. More importantly, perhaps, I also have an idea of how I am going to get there, and the steps I need to take. I carry around with me a folder containing my ‘Outstanding Action Plan’ – the things I need to work on in order to reach my goal. At the moment, it contains the two following headings (these are by no means the ONLY two things I need to work on, but they have been identified by colleagues as being significant weaknesses in my planning – about which more later):

  • differentiation – in particular, supporting the lower learners in my groups
  • final plenaries – creating a final plenary that encompasses the prior learning students brought to the lesson AND also what they have learned today

I am a Maths teacher, though Maths was not my training subject, and have been teaching it full time since 2010. This is the first year I have felt settled and confident in my teaching and relationships, in no small part thanks to my school’s CPD provision and the generous time various members of the SLT have spent with me helping me with a range of issues in my practice. This, coupled with a positive observation just before the half term break, have given me a real impetus to strive towards becoming Outstanding.

So that’s me, that’s where I am, where I want to be, and how I plan to get there. Time to get back to the classroom and put everything into action!