7 Tips for Effective New Year Goal Setting for School Librarians
As schools dismiss for the holidays, the books are all shelved and it's a great time to reflect on your end of year goals. Even if you aren’t the resolution type, taking time to reflect and set goals can set you up for a successful end of the school year. Goal setting provides focus and allows you to spend your time and energy on what is most important to you.
Evaluate Where You Are
If you’re going to make plans for the future, you need to understand the present. If you created goals at the beginning of the school year, take stock of where you are. An honest reflection on your status quo helps set you up for success in changing old goals or creating new ones.
Once you have set your goals, return to this step often to reflect on how your goals are progressing. If you notice little progress on a goal, it may be time to reevaluate.
It’s important that your goals motivate you. If you aren’t interested in your goals, you aren’t going to be passionate about achieving them. Take time to sit down and write out what your ideal situation as a school librarian would look like.
Don't self-censor your writing. Keep your ideas and dreams as big and grandiose as you can imagine. Want a fully outfitted makerspace with the latest technology? Write it down!
You may write down dreams that seem impossible or have significant obstacles (hello, budgets!). However, if you write down what success looks like to you, you will be better able to define specific goals that you can act on in the last half of the school year. This is not the time to think about the obstacles in your path.
Make S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Now is the time to start nailing down specifics. Smart goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive. They should also relate to those big dreams you just wrote down. Try picking the dream that you are most passionate about, or that needs improvement and develop several goals that support that dream. For example, maybe you are passionate about all your students reading for enjoyment. A specific goal supporting that dream may be hosting a monthly reading night, which is specific, attainable, and has a set deadline.
As librarians, it is important to focus on the measurability of a goal. In the previous example, it would be important to track data such as participation levels of previous non-readers in the program. Measuring student outcomes helps you evaluate the success of your goal and show others how your programs contribute to overall student success.
Know Your Stuff
Every school librarian knows that research and technology are transforming libraries and classrooms. Research educational technology trends for the upcoming year. Understanding trends in educational technology and curriculum can help you navigate the changing roles of libraries and librarians in classrooms.
Committing yourself to your own professional growth can help equip you to convince others to support your goals. For example, if your goal is to increase the units you co-teach, gather research showing that integrating information literacy supports student achievement. By educating yourself on trends on topics surrounding your goal, you can help foresee and overcome obstacles that may stand in your way.
Rally The Troops
Schools are a community, and the support of classroom teachers is critical to your success. Stay connected to teachers and share your goals with them. It’s likely that many of their goals overlap with yours.
Get involved in leadership teams, curriculum meetings, and ask teachers what they want to get out of the library. Partnering with teachers allows you to forge connections that can develop champions for your goals. Maintain relationships with decision makers in departments whose support you need.
Make a Plan
Teachers and librarians are awesome planners! Use this strength and plan your goals across your calendar for the rest of the school year. If your goals are time-sensitive and specific, you can chart progress across time and adjust if unforeseen obstacles crop up.
Without accountability, it can be easy to let your goals take a back seat when the pressure of day-to-day school life crops up. Find a mentor who can help you stay on track and follow up on your successes and help you with your failures. A goal is so much more powerful when you have more than yourself to answer to.