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[Educator Network] Creating Goals as an Educator

[Educator Network] Creating Goals as an Educator

This is the time of year to create a new path with new goals and a capture a positive attitude. Thinking about what could be ahead is exciting and full of possibilities. You have made it through a challenging and life changing year. Now that you have completed it, the impossible is starting to feel like the possible.

At the end of last year I asked educators to look up for a minute and answer a query. The question was, “What stresses you out?” Among the answers listed below it is quite clear that the anxiety of the unknown is overwhelming. However, in a year of moving goal posts, you have persevered.

Rebecca: “Not having a full-time personal assistant to keep up with all the non-teaching and correcting. Keeping communication logs takes so much time and effort. It’s quite difficult to keep up with all of the minutia.”

Christina: “The goal post keeps moving: virtual requirements, COVID-19 quarantine requirements...we keep switching every few weeks, and it is hard.”

Shelia: “Being bombarded by uploading work records, calls to families, closing out the semester, grading all before break. Seriously overwhelmed.”

Amy: “Keeping that balance between working at home and having two young kids in virtual school at home. We have a balance, but it seems to shift slightly each day.”


When you were faced with what you thought might break you, you pushed through and found a way. Maybe it wasn’t pretty and maybe you are not fully on the path, but sloshing along in the bog and weeds, maybe running parallel to the path, but you are moving forward. Take control. Build a finish line. Create goals.

Creating goals helps you in weeding out wasted effort and idle movement. Creating goals helps in celebrating the movement forward. Sure, you might be struggling, but think back to where you were and applaud what you have learned. Goals can give you a destination it helps you to create a vision to work toward. Pablo Picasso said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” Goals help fight that procrastination (which I often think of as time devoted to developing new goals, but I am an expert at procrastination). Creating a goal can help articulate what you want to get done, and work toward becoming who you want to be when you grow up, or at the very least, the end of next year. Rather than just talk, you are now obligated to act. You are accountable to yourself. Goals setting is a way to break from the defaulted routine of activities that keeps you feeling safe and comfy each day. Familiarity is the nemesis of growth. It denies you from venturing into those things that are a stretch.

There is a whole industry built around how to create goals, but I am going to tell you a secret: you must find what works for you. Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve: today, in a year, in my lifetime?” After you have asked yourself these questions, write out short-term, concrete goals for you to begin working on now, if that’s your style. Make them measurable, flexible and clear.

My persona style is slightly different. I build lists, long, long, long lists, and then I choose to put a plan in motion for some of the things on the list. I have the idea of where the list is going, but by breaking them into groups I can better prioritize. These are the categories that will help me get to the end of my list.


Your categories might look very different but identifying what you want to work toward might just frame your next steps. The flotsam and jetsam of the comfortable might get in the way, and gracious, we are still working through the uncertainty and anxiety of the pandemic, but you have gotten through to today, plan your steps for tomorrow.

I will start my list tomorrow … Pablo Picasso had a point, but I will worry about that later.


winnie.oleary's picture
Winnie O'Leary

Winnie O’Leary has spent over 25 years in education, as a classroom teacher, school board member, a family advocate, special education teacher, curriculum writer and currently the Educator Initiatives Manager. Her experiences have allowed her to work with districts all over the country where she learns something new and exciting every day.