Although it is cliché, as the end of the year approaches, it is a time to think about closing out the old year and bringing in the new year.
As your programs and schools wind down for the holiday season, this allows us an opportune time to reflect on the accomplishments of our students, our staff, and ourselves. It’s also a time to think about what we did not accomplish in 2011 but what we hope to do in 2012. These may be seemingly minor things like not cleaning out the supply closet, or it may be something more major, such as our students are not where we would like them to be academically. So, I invite each of you for a few minutes to take a breath, forget about the baking and shopping and card sending, grab a hot cup of coffee or tea, and sit down and reflect upon the following questions.
What were your major accomplishments in 2011?
Depending on your role, you may have had a variety of goals that you wished to accomplish in 2011. Directors may have wanted to provide their staff with new professional development opportunities to make them stronger leaders. Staff members may have wanted to try new activities with their students or try a new technology in an activity. Regardless of the goal, it should have aligned with your overall mission and vision.
I’m sure that programs may have had bigger overarching goals such as improving academic achievement for a group of students or bringing low-achieving students up to grade level. As you analyze your fall semester data, did you accomplish those goals for your students? If so, celebrate! If you fell short, don’t worry. Think strategically about how you will achieve those goals next semester. Being flexible and learning how to monitor your data continuously to ensure you are making continuous program improvement is an ongoing dynamic process and what makes our lives exciting!
What are your goals for 2012?
Setting goals or resolutions for the new year is nothing new, but it does take time and commitment to make the activity useful. So, while I have your attention, grab a pen and paper and brainstorm where you’d like to be three months, six months, nine months, and 12 months from now. Make a commitment to check in with yourself at least once a month to see if you are on target. This type of activity can be very therapeutic and help you focus, even if you are nowhere close to meeting your goal. Remember, there is no pressure. These are personal activities to help you achieve the goals (both personal and professional) in your lives.
As adults, we naturally have goals that we would like to accomplish. We have the flexibility and processes to monitor our progress and make adjustments to our plans. How many of you have asked staff or students to set goals? This can be beneficial for staff, especially staff who are right out of school to help them think about where they are at and where they want to be.
For students, the reflection piece is critical as it helps them become responsible young adults.
Goals do not necessarily have to be academic. Let students set social goals or physical activity goals. Let them chart and monitor their own progress (hint: math activity). As students watch their progress, it will help them learn the benefit of hard work. And, as always, celebrate the successes!
I realize that I haven’t said anything new here, but I hope you were able to relax a bit to mentally think about the end of a year and to begin to think about what you would like to see happen next year. So, go rinse out your cup, it’s time to get back to the baking and shopping and card sending…
My breakfast this morning consisted of three vanilla bean scones from Starbucks and an iced tea. Note to self: improve breakfast food in 2012!
Author Profile: @taradonahue