Professional development is crucial for any occupation, and teachers are no exception. Likewise, setting goals will help you succeed in the classroom or if you teach online.
The SMART principle is one well-tested framework for goals. To follow it, make sure your professional goals are:
- S – specific
- M– meaningful, measurable, motivating
- A – acceptable, achievable, action-oriented, agreed upon, attainable
- R – realistic, reasonable, relevant, results-oriented, rewarding
- T – tangible, timely
Besides keeping your SMART goals in mind, we recommend writing them down and reviewing them at least once per week. Or, even better, you can divide your professional growth plan into several milestones and accomplish them one-by-one.
1. Avoid teacher burnout
Teachers who are natural “givers” and enjoy caring for others. However, it is crucial to take enough time for yourself to recuperate and focus on yourself. That usually means at least once a week. Sports, shopping, hanging out with friends – all of this help us become well-rounded, happy individuals. Therefore, avoiding burnout should be a part of any professional development plan for teachers.
2. Use tech tools
Technology is now transforming many spheres of our life, including education. Therefore, using technology in your classroom will give you more chances you get to grow professionally. You want to say you understand and have are comfortable with the latest industry innovations.
3. Join an online community of teachers
If you have good writing or presentation skills, you can create an online blog and share your thoughts or tips based on your experience as a teacher. You can also create social media pages for your students to encourage their collaboration in a digital environment. Finally, you can join online communities or forums to exchange thoughts and ideas related to the teaching process.
4. Build strong relationships with your fellow teachers
Networking and communication underpin most careers and networking should definitely be on every teacher’s list of professional development goals. Take time to cultivate relationships because one day these people may become your second family. You can also network with teachers and administrators from other schools to get familiar with the community around you.
5. Add more fun activities to your lesson plan
Your goal as a professional teacher is to keep your students constantly engaged, and traditional exercises maybe not enough for that. Try to be creative and add interactive games and warm-up activities that will make your students eager for the next lesson.
6. Incorporate new teaching strategies
You can use the comprehensible input strategies – direct instruction, joint construction, coached construction, and so on – and build your lessons around those strategies. This professional goal will force you to learn constantly.
7. Become a National Board Certified Teacher
If you are based in the US, you can get this certification to add another achievement to your CV.
8. Work abroad as an exchange teacher
Teachers, especially those who teach English to kids, have a unique opportunity to participate in a cultural exchange program, and teach foreign students abroad. Such experiences will extend your teacher’s portfolio significantly.
9. Attend a professional development school
In the US and Canada, universities collaborate with PD schools for teachers to work with problems that are relevant to the everyday practices of teachers, schools, and educational systems.
10. Attend symposia, retreats, conferences, seminars, webinars and other events for teachers
As a result of attending these events, you will get an opportunity to learn new teaching styles and work with colleagues to collaborate to uncover different professional goals for teaching.
11. Invite parents of your students to collaborate
Encourage parents to actively participate in their child’s education. Assign a family project or invite parents to come to Fun Friday. There are many ways to involve parents more, you just have to make it a priority.
Originally published March 30, 2018, updated August 18, 2020