Personal Goals

Why Setting Personal Goals Is The First Step On The Journey To Classroom Management Success.

Setting personal goals is the first step to take on the journey to classroom management success. However don’t confuse personal goal setting with setting objectives for classroom management strategies.

Strategies are specific steps to take in specific situations, such as how to devise a seating plan, or how to use resources in lessons. Personal goals are principles that guide us in every aspect of classroom management and are as much about the kind of person we’re striving to be as about the steps we take to be successful in the classroom.

If we don’t define the principles that will govern our professional lives we simply react to whatever happens rather than having a clear blueprint to become the kind of professional we want to be and setting personal goals gives us a quicker route to success.

Sometimes when people talk about personal development they use terms such as ‘knowing the territory’, by which they mean knowing ourselves, our motivations, our strengths really well so we can decide where we want to go on our road to success. Setting personal goals that become our guiding principles is marking out our ‘territory’ as educators.

So what personal goals should we set?

Personal goal setting is, by definition, personal to each individual. However, as professional educators, we tend to have similar motivations and outlooks. Setting personal goals for classroom management success means we identify the most important factors in our relationship with students, and the commitments we need to hold ourselves to in order to succeed.

One way to think of setting personal goals for classroom management is to imagine the principles we want to uphold in the form of a pyramid.At the base of the pyramid, supporting everything else, are the Core Value Principles that are present in every successful classroom.These principles include the notions of fairness and justice, along with honesty, respect, dignity and encouragement. The base of the ‘principles pyramid’ looks like this.

Fairness / Honesty / Respect / Dignity / Encouragement / Justice

Setting personal goals means agreeing to do everything we can to make sure every part of classroom management rests on these universal principles. Everyone agrees these are desirable goals for teachers to pursue. Try imagining classroom management based on the opposite of these principles, in other words, unfairness, lack of justice, discouragement, lack of dignity and so on. It’s not hard to see what effect that would have.In my experience students are very acutely aware of these notions and are quick to recognize when they are present and even quicker to react when they are absent, or appear to be absent, from normal classroom experience.

No one pretends it’s always easy to stick to these high minded goals. Like all educators I have sometimes let my students and myself down in situations when I allowed myself to depart from the expectation that these principles apply all the time to everyone. I know that I am fortunate that such lapses have been brief and rare, and it’s just possible that my occasional lapses have reinforced how important these principles are.

It is easy to get caught up in the daily routine and become negative, but it really is important to remind ourselves just how well we all respond when others treat us positively, and students do appreciate teachers being consistently positive and offering encouragement.

On the next level of the ‘principles pyramid’ lie what we might call Personal Responsibility Principles. These include:

self awareness / freedom to choose / independent will / imagination

These principles are more difficult to explain but we should include them when we are setting personal goals because they focus on principles that are unique to the way human beings behave, and for which we need to take individual responsibility.

For example, human beings are self aware in ways that no other creatures are. This means that educators not only understand the actions they can take in the classroom but can also explain how those actions work. Therefore, teachers can choose to act in certain ways, knowing what the outcomes might be, and can make reasoned choices for their actions and can decide to do what is most successful.

Another important principle is freedom of choice. We have the freedom to choose specific ways to act in our classrooms, whatever the circumstances, and this is a powerful tool. We become responsible for our actions in ways no other creatures can.

When setting personal goals we should include the concept of imagination, not just to create imaginative learning experiences for our students, but also in a personal sense, because we can mentally rehearse how to act in specific situations in the classroom and be prepared if those situations arise.

Perhaps the most powerful principle in this part of the personal goal setting pyramid is that we have independent will. In other words, every time we act we can choose how to act, and not be influenced by the circumstances alone. It’s not always easy, of course, and every teacher at some time or another reacts in the wrong way. Nevertheless, if we set a personal goal to strive always to use our independent will, we give ourselves a chance of being able to handle most classroom situations.

The third and top layer of the ‘principles pyramid’ in personal goal setting contains what we might call Personal Development Principles. These include notions such as

personal growth / potential / excellence.

Setting personal goals at this level relates to why people choose to become educators in the first place. Most of us probably say things like ‘we want to make a difference’ or we want to ‘help students develop as people’ and every teacher feels great to see students develop their potential and succeed. It’s not all selfless giving, however, because good teachers, like any other good professionals, plan their own personal growth. So setting personal goals should also focus on our personal development not just that of students. Always looking to develop yourself is vital, both professionally and personally. We should never be afraid of striving for excellence

What’s the best way of setting personal goals?

There is no one correct way of setting personal goals, any approach is valid if it helps teachers to see the way forward. For many, just drawing out a pyramid like the one discussed here will be enough to show the important steps to take, as they will know exactly what ideas lie behind the principles, and be reminded of what they have committed to. Others may want to go further and take these ideas and write a detailed personal mission statement. Others still, may find that setting personal goals is a process that evolves over time and this flexibility helps them to adapt their intentions as they become more aware of priorities.

What I believe is important, however, is that we should put our personal goals in writing, so that we can remind ourselves of them from time to time.The most important thing of all is that whatever system we have for setting personal goals we commit wholeheartedly to them. This means being proactive from the outset, starting with ourselves, clearly identifying the values and principles that are important to us as educators, and without which we really have no purpose.It means taking individual responsibility for our classroom management success, and deciding what our approaches to classroom management are going to be.

Don’t worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Classroom Success Tips.

Ever thought about building your own profitable website?

Teachers can create great websites.
Find out how I created my own
successful website.

Free classroom management webinars

TIMESAVERS for specializes in printable, often-used classroom forms, report card comments, spelling activities, practical teacher tools, worksheets and downloadable teaching materials designed to save teachers valuable time.