During the summer, when many students are taking a break from daily classroom attendance, you are still hard at work setting and working toward goals for your faculty, staff, schools, and the district. What, though, about your professional development? If you’re not sure where to begin goal setting for yourself, a good place to start might be your most recent annual performance evaluation. Your annual evaluation is meant to be a useful tool that can help drive action and impact and help guide your focus.
Six Ideas to Help You Create an Actionable Professional Improvement Plan Based On Your Annual Performance Review
- Go back to the beginning. If you have been in your role as a superintendent or school administrator for a few years (or decades), you may have to dig through your filing cabinet and dust off your original job description and written goals. You also may be surprised at what you read. If you are like many successful administrators, you focus so critically on helping your teachers and students succeed, and on planning and executing individual annual initiatives, that it may be easy to overlook other expectations that were set when you were hired. If, for example, you have been so focused over the past several years on raising the cumulative statewide assessment scores of your students that you have not made steps toward another critical job expectation — developing a sustainable and repeatable faculty professional development plan, for example — then you may want to set specific goals to help you get back on track in that particular area of your job expectations.
- Focus on areas of improvement. Every evaluation should include feedback on areas for improvement. Whether the suggestions come from school board members, community members, colleagues, or yourself, any skill that has been identified as being an opportunity for growth should be tied to a specific goal for the coming year. For example, if faculty have stated that they would like more frequent opportunities to collaborate on student performance improvements, set a goal to plan and execute monthly team meetings. If you identified in your performance review that you want to increase the diversity of your faculty and staff, then work with your human resources staff to set a quantitative hiring goal for the coming year, and brainstorm strategies for achievement.
- Consider external training opportunities. If you have a goal that leaves you feeling unsure of where to begin making steps toward achievement, it may be tempting to tell yourself you’ll table it for another time. Instead, consider identifying a third-party training course, conference, or professional development seminar. Such opportunities will help you build the types of skills or initiate the types of programs that require guidance and expert insights. For example, if you want to establish a positive social media presence for your school district, but have never tweeted, liked, shared, or posted anything yet, look for a social media marketing course that can teach you the basics of social engagement and give you the tools to get started.
- Collaborate on your goal setting. Know that you do not need to create goals in a vacuum. Collaborate with peers, principals, teachers, and other trusted sources to identify the most critical areas of improvement and identify success criteria. For example, stating that you want to improve student academic achievement is so broad that it can seem unmanageable. By gaining insights from faculty who are more intimately knowledgeable about the educational challenges students are facing and known barriers to success, you may learn that teachers have identified a need for more after school tutoring. That insight can become a specific, measurable goal that you can take steps to achieve, which leads us to the next suggested best practice.
- Make sure your goals are measurable. How will you know at the end of next year if you achieved your goals if they are not documented in a way that allows you to measure success? For example, you may want to improve relationships with parents, but how will you know, aside from some anecdotal feedback, if you have achieved your goal? If you know that you want to focus on parental relations, start by surveying parents to gauge your current success levels. Once you know that parents in your district rate their relationship with their child’s school system, on average, a seven out of ten, you can set a goal to improve that number to, for example, 8.5. Once you have a measurable goal, you can work throughout the year to execute tactics to improve parental relations, such as increasing the frequency of communications, holding more open meetings, and enabling teachers to meet with parents more frequently. When the end of next year arrives, you can re-survey parents and know, definitively, if you met your goal.
- Ensure you have a system in place to track your progress. Set yourself up for success by ensuring you have the tools and solutions in place to help you track your progress throughout the year. Your performance and personal development should not be something you make time to reflect upon only at the start and end of every academic year. Ensure it is easy for you to reflect on progress at least monthly. Online transparency and collaboration tools are ideal, as they allow you to document your progress so that you can ensure you are maintaining momentum and building on success. For example, if you set a goal to host quarterly faculty professional development seminars, make sure you document each quarter what training you executed, the participation, and faculty feedback. This step will help ensure you don’t miss a quarter, or overlook the goal in its entirety as you get busy with other district initiatives.
Author and motivational speaker Jack Canfield once said, “Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.”
What Canfield’s advice reminds us is that we can always reset and recommit to our goals. By making your goals SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely, and ensuring you have a system to document your progress, you will put yourself in the best position to be successful. Moreover, when you set goals that will help you to lead your schools, faculty, and students to success, in the end, everyone wins.
SuperEval Can Help
SuperEval can help you create a goal-aligned district while you stay the course for fulfilling your personal and professional goals. SuperEval is so much more than an online evaluation tool. It will help you and your leadership team create, define and achieve goals in order to improve student performance. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you and your team.