+ A Free Goal Planning Guide
Summer is time for rest. It’s time to relax by the water, sprawl out on a picnic blanket, and spend time with loved ones. It’s time to chill!
But as much as summer is great for getting a little rest and rejuvenation, it’s also a great time to get some things done.
How often have you said to yourself, “I’ll get to it this summer when I have more time”? Right? I know I’ve said it too many times to count. Summer can feel like this magical season of endless free time, until it’s August and that free time has somehow come and gone. While we all know the plight of disappearing summer days, we tend to push a lot of things off during the year in hopes we will actually get it accomplished over the summer.
Well, fret not. Getting things done over the summer CAN happen. The key is knowing how to set realistic goals for yourself that you can keep track of. The key is making your goals do the work for you by using SMART goals!
I’m not sure when I first heard about SMART goals, but it was probably in a college course. As an elementary teacher, I'll be constantly setting and tracking goals for my students, and this method of goal planning works across pretty much any field.
So whether you’re setting goals for yourself for the summer or the new year or you’re setting goals for others while you’re in a leadership role, SMART goals are the way to go.
Here’s what a SMART goal is.
Often times our goals can start out pretty vague. They may sound fairly big picture, like “lose weight” or “save money,” but goals that broad are incredibly hard to track and maintain. You could save $1 and meet the vague goal of “saving money,” but I suspect that’s not exactly what you were hoping for.
For example, here’s a list of my summer goals I jotted down before I went back and made them SMART.
While some of them may be narrowed down a little more than the previous examples, they’re still pretty broad. Here’s where SMART comes in. Take a look at one of my updated goals.
I changed a LOT about my initial goal. Let’s talk about the S and M first.
These two points go hand-in-hand. Your goals need to have a clear standard. Rather than “save money,” consider how much money you actually want or need to save and specify the purpose. “Save $50 for art supplies” is moving in the right direction. There is something tangible and motivating about numbers, so be exact! You can measure how well your goal is going when you are able to quantify it in some way.
Saving money is a pretty easy goal to quantify, but what about something like “study more” or “improve my blog”? It may be difficult to quantify what improvement or “more” looks like. You may not be able to put an exact measurement, but you can set a specific schedule for studying each week and for working on your blog.
Narrow in to make your goals more focused. Rather than simply saying you want to improve your blog, take a look at what specific details of your blog you are unhappy with. Is it your traffic? Your email list? Consider what area specifically you want to fix and it will be easier to find a quantifiable standard for it (and therefore follow through).
You can see here that I want to grow my traffic this summer by delivering substantial content with great SEO. Not only do I want to “grow my traffic,” but I specifically want to grow my traffic to 1,000 viewers a month by the end of the summer. That’s measurable!
It can be tempting to let your imagination get the best of you when you make a goal specific by adding quantity. It would be wonderful to have 20,000 viewers a month, but I know that growing my traffic to 20,000 viewers by the end of the summer just isn’t likely. When I considered what specific number I wanted to add to my goal, I had to be honest with my current stance and what would plausibly be attainable.
Don’t get carried away hoping you’ll accomplish more than you will have time, resources, or energy for. Likewise, don’t sell yourself short. Like many things in life, you have to find a happy medium. If you eventually hope to write a novel, don’t settle for only getting one chapter written over a whole summer if you know you can take on more. Sure, it’s progress, but goals are meant to be things we strive for. On the other hand, don’t think you’ll write the entire novel over the summer if you have other responsibilities or goals to devote your time to.
Your goals should matter to you! Why set a goal you have no desire to accomplish? Even in the classroom it’s important to let our students know WHY they are being asked to do certain tasks - and “because it’s on the test” is rarely (read: never) a great answer. Goals should be relevant to our lives in some way or we won’t be motivated to follow through.
Note: Some goals may not feel relevant now but they are relevant for the future, and that’s okay, too! A great way to stay motivated and envision your goals (both present and future) is by making a mood board. Check out a DIY version here!
Obviously, goals need to have a time frame or we will never get around to them. I think that’s why so many of us push things off until the summer to begin with! Even if you have decided you’re going to do something over the summer, set a literal date to accomplish it by and schedule checkpoints along the way, as applicable. This way you KNOW you only have so many days to do it and you can stretch out the work as needed. Pace yourself!
One of my goals this summer is to study for the ESL certification exam. I’m going to look up exam dates so that I can pick a day, mark it on the calendar, and see exactly how much time I have to study. Then I’m going to mark the calendar with specific study nights, non-negotiable times that I will devote to preparing for the exam.
As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Get out your calendar and make it concrete.
Fwew! That’s a lot of information to take in, but you only need to take it one step at a time. Here’s exactly how you can make some SMART goals you will be motivated to accomplish.
Step 1: Jot down a big picture list of goals. I started with a vague idea of what I wanted to get done this summer. Simply take out a sheet of paper or a journal and get it all out (or use this free template!) What broad ideas do you hope to get done?
Step 2: Narrow the focus. Go through each broad idea and flesh it out to more specific details - this is the first step to make it SMART. I like to use the traditional web brainstorming strategy to allow my ideas to branch out into more focused thoughts. What are some specifics about this goal? What is my quantity for measurement? How long do I think it will take me to get this done? Weed out the ideas that are simply too broad and focus on the goals that you can make SMART.
Step 3: Make it SMART. Connect all your bubbles of thought into coherent pieces following the SMART acronym. Write out the details for each category that you just brainstormed about. Here’s an example.
Step 4: Narrow again! Look at all your SMART goals and decide which goals are relevant, attainable, and important enough to add to your to-do list now. Some goals can wait! Some goals would be better accomplished with a larger time-frame or during a different time of the year. Separate your goals into four categories: 1) Now, 2) Soon, 3) Later 4) Someday/Never.
Step 5: Conquer those "now" goals with actionable steps! I like to break my goals down even further into smaller tasks that I can check-off as I go - this makes my goals even easier to measure!
This printable guide I created to use along the way makes planning SMART goals a breeze. You can download it free here! I hope you'll find it hard NOT to keep your goals now.
What are your current goals? Any goal setting tips?
Right now I can hardly contain my excitement - I'm going to be a teacher in the fall! I'm so thankful that the time is finally here, and I'm looking forward to having the summer to rest, recharge, and prepare for a great first year as a teacher.
Of course, there is so much unknown about what I'll experience as a first-time teacher, which is why I'm glad there is an abundance of resources and testimonies from seasoned teachers who have been-there-done-that. Some things can only come by experience, but other things I can go ahead and prepare for now by reading up and by saving great resources.
You may be in the same boat (we can do this, new teachers!) or you may have already been teaching for a while now. Either way, some fresh perspective could be helpful! So I hope you get some ideas and inspiration from these teaching blogs, which are mostly geared towards elementary teachers (but not exclusively!).
You can see by the menu what Sarah from "The Designer Teacher" stands for and cares about! It's refreshing to read about affirmations for teachers as well as to get behind advocating for social justice in education. Plus, she has a really great (and cute!) line of products like teacher care boxes and teacher tees.
This blog has tons of resources and activities geared towards the preschool-first grade age range. The author Malia is incredibly accomplished (National Board certified), and her resources show it. She runs a second blog called The STEM Laboratory that I only just discovered as I was writing this (gasp!). I'll have to check it out right now!
This is another blog full of resources. Karen, AKA Mrs. Jones, provides guided reading tool kits, books, DIYs, decorations, and more!
As per the name, this blog has a big focus on staying up to date on what's going on in teaching today. There seem to be a lot of great technology and planning resources for teachers, but April also writes about home DIYs and organization, too! She's got tons of teacher planners up on Teachers Pay Teachers.
This incredibly professional blog features all sorts of preschool-Kindergarten resources, like dramatic play activities, lesson plans, and teaching tips. Teacher blogger Vanessa Levin is also a public speaker, author, and consultant - so basically, I've got a lot to learn from her! I could probably spend all day on her site.
This blog is not exclusively for elementary teachers and features topics beyond the classroom, such as general organization tips and technology hacks. While I haven't browsed through Angela's blog enough as I would like to, I listen to her podcast Truth for Teachers regularly, usually while I drive to work. She has lots of great advice and hosts some incredible people on her show!
I love how organized this blog is! Author Maria Gavin provides an abundance of freebies, activities, decor ideas, reviews of teacher products, and more! She has a lot of great insight about life as a teacher and offers some solid resources.
Well there you have it - hours and hours of browsing to do and an abundance of resources and tips for elementary teachers! There are so many great blogs out there, but I'm thankful to have stumbled across these few so far to get a head start on preparation for the fall.
Do you have any favorite teaching blogs, or write one yourself? Share below in the comments!
Need a few extra resources or some creative inspiration? Check out these 9 websites for teachers!
Yay for Saturday! and yay for spring break! I'm so excited to be hanging out today at my Alma Mater (Howard Payne University - sting 'em!) where I received my BA in Elementary Education.
Right after I graduated in December, I started substitute teaching for about a month before I was hired as an instructional aide. Subbing can be tough! Managing a classroom of kids when you don't even know their names? TOUGH. It can also be a lot of fun, especially when you're prepared and go into the day with a great attitude.
Today I wanted to share an infographic on "The Prepared Substitute Teacher" to give you some tips on making it a great day. (Full post expounding on the infographic coming soon!)
Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list of items needed to rock your time as a substitute teacher, but it's a great place to start!
Can you think of any great tips for subs? I'd love to hear!
A few months ago I graduated from Howard Payne University (sting ‘em!) with a BA in Elementary Education. The last semester of the Elementary Education program involves clinical teaching (also known as student teaching) at a local school, so I had the privilege of learning and practicing in both a kindergarten and second grade classroom.
It was so much fun, and it really solidified my desire to be a teacher! I learned a lot from the experience.
So without further ado, I’d like to share some tips on how to make the most of student teaching.
This is a pretty obvious first step, but definitely necessary. In order to be prepared for student teaching, here are some things to consider doing.
I’m an introvert, so I know how daunting this step can sound if you aren’t exactly a social butterfly. However, stepping out of your comfort zone and being personable to the teachers, administrators, and students is important and worth it!
While you won’t have 100% of the responsibilities of an actual classroom teacher, I won’t lie - student teaching is not a light load. It will be so fun and so worth it, but it will also be tough. You’ll be busy and you’ll have a lot of responsibilities and run into a lot of circumstances that only practice and experience can prepare you for.
Student teaching is such an exciting experience! It’s tough at times, and emotional, and busy, and sometimes pretty exhausting, but it’s an invaluable opportunity to gear up for your career as a teacher.
Not going to lie, I cried a few times during my experience, but I also cried at the end of both of my assignments because I was going to miss the kids so much! Use this time to grow as an individual and as a professional. You’ll be surprised how much you learn about yourself.
Make the most of student teaching by being prepared, being social, and being willing to tackle all of the obstacles and joys that come your way.
You can do this!
(P.S. You can check out My Dream Teacher Wardrobe here!)
It's the middle of the school year, the ground hog has seen it's shadow, New Year's resolutions have been long forgotten, and it can be easy to feel like you and everyone around you are sludging through the mud this time of year.
When I feel low on energy and like I've hit a mid-semester rut, I try to look for some inspiration to get a fresh start. If you're an educator and you're feeling anything like what I've described, no matter what time of year, I hope you can find some refreshment with these 10 Pins for Educators that have me particularly hopeful and inspired.
Well there you have it - 10 pins for teachers that are re-kindling my creativity through this mid-year grog. What currently has you inspired?
P.S. You can check out other pins for teachers on my Pinterest board here or below!
The new semester is gearing up and I’m getting ready to substitute teach for the first time. I can’t contain my excitement! Of course, every college graduate hopes to don the cap and gown one day and land a real-life adult job the next, but that’s not always how it works out.
Fortunately, though, having the opportunity to step into substitute teaching in the middle of the school year as a part-time means of work is a dream come true for me.
That being said, I don’t have work every day, so the extra free time has given me an opportunity to spend time with my husband while he isn’t in class, work on my Etsy shop, and dream of the future.
As I’m sure you know, one big-time dreaming platform is Pinterest, and boy do I dream. Via Pinterest I can cultivate giant mood boards of my hopes and dreams, some of which are real goals and others of which are somewhat lofty ideas.
Take a look at some of my ideas for My Dream Teacher Wardrobe! Let's assume my ideal teacher wardrobe has an unlimited budget to back it up (ha!)
Basically, I'm a sucker for cozy cardigans, long skirts, simple dresses, and floral print.
Soon I’ll have to snap some pictures of my actual teacher wardrobe for you to see. You can check out my general style board and some of my other Pinterest boards here.
Have any favorite teacher pieces? Any dreamy ideas of your own? Feel free to share!
Recent graduate + Wife
+ Kindergarten teacher
+ Coffee lover + Artist
I'm a twenty-something trying to figure out this adult thing and using my spare time to run an art shop on Etsy and write a blog about life, art, education, and travel.