In my first couple of years of teaching, I was so overwhelmed. I felt like I was doing everything wrong and not helping my students at all. I was so focused on lessons that didn’t go exactly how I wanted, that I totally missed out on all the positive things that were happening in my class. I was incredibly hard on myself and my expectations were way too high.
I looked at the first ALP that I wrote as part of my NTIP recently and I can see those overachieving expectations in the goals I set:
1) Deliver a language program that meets the needs of all learners, engages students and uses assessment and evaluation to drive instruction.
2) Deliver a math program that follows a three part lesson plan, allows multiple entry points and encourages rich math conversations.
Looking at these goals now, I realize that there were too many things that I was trying to accomplish at once. What I have learned is that when you try to do everything perfectly, you end up being a grumpy, unproductive teacher. I have learned that focusing on one thing at a time produces much better results. Also, becoming skilled at developing a three part lesson or creating an environment that encourages rich math conversations takes time! Reading professional books, attending workshops and the implementation of new knowledge take thought and reflective practice. This cannot be accomplished in one day, week or even a year.
What I have since learned is that everything is not going to be perfect – not by a long shot – and that you really need to set reasonable goals for yourself that are attainable. When I finally came to this realization, I decided to focus on improving one thing per year. Of course, working towards competency in language and math instruction were my first two goals. I also decided to focus on developing good management and climate techniques. After I had a handle on these items, the focus became other things like better parent communication, stronger programming for my English Language Learners and developing creative thinkers.
Two years later, my goals looked like this:
1. Continue to learn good classroom management strategies
2. Continue to learn from collaboration with colleagues, including lesson and unit planning.
3. Continue to learn best practices in assessment and evaluation.
Seven years into my teaching career, my annual learning plan is reflecting a shift into some leadership goals:
1. Mentor a student teacher through their practicum
2. Mentor new teachers in their first years of teaching through a blog called the “Heart and Art of Teaching and Learning”
3. Continue to learn best practices in music instruction by attending workshops and conferences.
Take the time to celebrate the success that you have had and make achievable goals!