How to Set and Reach Your Professional Development Goals

Kathryn Starke
Kathryn Starke
Professional development expert; Master's in Literacy and Culture

Teachers are lifelong learners, which means there is always something educators can learn more about something that may interest them or possibly challenge them. Setting professional development (PD) goals allows teachers to own their continuing learning process. It is important to choose goals that are specific with a measurable outcome. The goals should also be achievable, relevant, and timely (these five factors have been used to coin the acronym “SMART goals”). It is also suggested to understand the mode of learning that best works for your style of learning. The most common professional goals in education today revolve around technology, classroom management, academic content, or furthering your own career path.

Best Tips on How to Keep Track Progress Toward Your Goals

Progress monitoring is necessary to track the progress on your professional development goals. Once you decide upon a goal, you must list the action steps you plan to take to achieve that goal. These ideas may include attending a conference, watching a module, registering for an online class or graduate level course, participating in a book club, collaborating with colleagues, implementing new practices, or completing an internship.

Once the specific action steps are decided upon, a timeline or timeframe should be strategically developed as well. Sometimes a goal can be attained within a few months, while others will span a school year. Lofty professional development goals that help a teacher advanced their career path may require a two- or three-year period. Organization and documentation are key when tracking progress, so create a system that allows you to make and meet deadlines and collect evidence. Evidence ranges from maintaining journal to collecting data or creating a portfolio of work samples matching your professional development goal.

What to Do When You Have Reached Your Professional Development Goals

The first thing to do you when you have reached your professional development goals is to celebrate your accomplishment. Whether the duration of time took two months or two years, the purposeful work that is essential in achieving your professional development goal takes time, diligence, and commitment. Be sure to share your attained professional development goals with your principal or district professional development team. In many states, the documented action steps used to achieve these PD goals are used toward certification points, or to further advance your educational career path. Educators understand that every school year is different, so while we have reached one professional development goal, there will be another one to strive for and implement.

How to Keep Evolving as an Educator

Educators evolve every day that they collaborate with a colleague, are inspired by a new educational resource, or try out a new lesson on their students. When educators evolve, student achievement increases. The educational profession is a stressful profession, so there has been a new focus on the importance of self-care for teachers to participate in as they continue to grow and evolve. Self-reflection help educators grow and evolve continuing to become the best professional version of themselves.

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