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A Teacher’s Professional Development Goals

Janelle Cox

As teachers, we all want to grow -- that’s why we like to make professional development goals for ourselves. Goals help to keep us in check and lead us to self-improvement. The role of a teacher has many dimensions, and oftentimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out. Setting professional development goals can help alleviate some of those negative feelings and make you feel better about yourself and your career. Here are 10 teacher professional development goals that can not only help lead to a pathway of success, but can also help our students as well.

1. Professional Development: Avoid Teacher Burnout

One of the best ways that you can avoid that dreaded teacher burnout you hear so many of your colleagues talking about is by taking some time for yourself. For many teachers, this goal the hardest, because teachers are natural born “Givers,” and the idea of taking time for yourself seems unrealistic or senseless. However, it is the best way to de-stress, and in order to be a good teacher, you need to take care of yourself first. Try setting a goal to take time out for yourself once a week. You can start small and do something easy like go shopping, take a nap, or a walk, or get together with friends. Anytime that you take for time yourself will lead you to a happier you.

2. Give Students Some Reign

In a traditional classroom, the teacher is always in control, so for many of you, the thought of giving up that control can be a little scary. However, studies are showing that by giving your students some control on how they will learn can be very beneficial for them. It gives students a sense of confidence and pride in their work. It also gives them a sense of purpose and motivation. Ease into this goal by giving students a few options to choose from. This way you still will have a sense of control, and the students will also feel in control when they get the chance to choose how they will be learning.

3. Integrate Tech Tools

Many teachers have great intentions to use more tech tools, but somehow never seem to get around to actually implementing them. If you fall into this category, then now is the time to make this goal happen. If your classroom is not privy to a tablet, but you have one at home, bring it in! If you are scared something will happen to it if the students use it, then you can use its mirroring capability, where students will still get the benefits of the tablet without having to physically touch it. If there is another tech tool you wanted to try out, then now is the time. The more your students are exposed to technology, the better they will get at it for their future.

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4. Involve Parents More

Every teacher wants to get parents involved more, but oftentimes they just do everything on their own and never do. Now is the time to invite parents to actively participate in their child’s education. Encourage parents to come in and volunteer. Assign a family project or invite parents to come to Fun Friday. There are a lot of ways to involve parents more, you just have to make it a priority.

5. Create an Online Presence

Creating an online presence can mean joining in on the conversation with your fellow colleagues on a popular teacher website, creating your own teacher blog, or creating a website with your students. It means that you are actively involved in the tech world and people know you. This is a great goal for teachers who have a hard time integrating technology into their daily routine. With technology transforming the way we live, it is important to utilize it -- technology will forever be a part of our lives. Start now and you will not regret it.

6. Cultivate Relationships with Colleagues

Some of you may already know this, but for those of you that don’t, cultivating a relationship with your colleagues can have a major impact on your teaching career. These individuals which are your colleagues can be your mentor, your friend, or your go-to person when you are in need. They may just be the person that keeps you sane when you are having a horrible day because your students are on a sugar high from a holiday party. Take time to nurture these relationships because these people may just turn out to be like your family.

7. Incorporate Mindfulness

There has been a growing amount of research about the benefits and effects of being mindful. Some are even saying that in the near future, doctors are going to prescribe mindful techniques to their patients like they do prescriptions. All you have to do to get started is to be in the present moment, that’s it! Take a moment to be in the moment. If you are typing an email, have all of your focus just be on that email. Each time a different thought comes into your mind that isn’t about that email you are typing, then bring your mind back to what you are currently doing. Once you get the hang of it, then you can try being mindful of your breathing. Listen to every inhale and exhale for a few minutes. You will notice your stress level will go down.

8. Encourage More Play

You have probably read a lot about the benefits of play and how it’s essential in a child’s development, but maybe you never seem to really make an effort to incorporate it into your daily routine. Well, now is the time. If you have learning centers that students go to every day, then make sure that one center is strictly for play. If you don’t, then carve out at least 30 minutes for students to play. Whether it’s board games or a whole-group game, make the time.

9. Make Learning Fun

Let’s face it, learning can be boring. Make it fun by turning worksheets into games, and lessons into experiments. Take learning outside and give your students more choices. Make it your mission to make learning fun each and every day. If you think the lesson is boring, imagine if you were the student who had to do it. Put yourself in your students’ position and think about if you were a child how you could make it fun.

10. Reflect

Self-reflection can be a powerful tool that can really transform your teaching. Start a journal and reflect upon each lesson and your day. Then take this information and really look at it, then find a way to implement into your lessons. You will find a deeper understanding of not only yourself, but your teaching. This information can only benefit you in your life and career.

Do you make teacher professional development goals for yourself? If so, what are they? Please feel free to leave your goals in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you want to improve upon.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Skyward. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.