Professional Goal Setting in Early Childhood

What is it that you want to accomplish this year?

It’s January time to reflect on what to accomplish for the year as a professional. While I set my goals each August/September for classroom communities, my professional goals follow the calendar year.

Why set professional goals?

Professional goals support our long-term happiness and job satisfaction. They are different from new years resolutions, which often fade away in January. When we set professional goals, we move forward in who we want to be as early childhood educators.  

Over the years, I have developed a system for professional goal setting. I start with an overarching theme for the year. Do I want to focus on a skill set, explore a theory, or something else? I try to focus my theme on something that I am really interested in, something that will hold my interest for a whole year. When thinking about my theme, I work hard to make sure it is a big idea that allows for many possibilities. Some examples of past themes are, “Building Classroom Communities,” “Growing My Leadership,” “Environments as our Professional Calling Cards,” and “What does it Means to be an Early Childhood Professional?”

 My theme for 2016 is “Building Professional Visibility in ECE Communities.” I decided on this theme because it aligns with the work I am doing with Possibilities ECE. Once I have my theme, I start to think about my goals for the year. Goals are specific and measurable and come with a list of activities that you check off to show progress towards your goals. I always start by asking a series of questions.

  1. What is it that I want to learn through the exploration of my theme?
  2. What materials, resources, skills and/or knowledge will I need to help me in my journey?
  3. How do I hope to be changed through the process of learning about my theme? 

After thinking about my questions, I decided: 1) I want to document early childhood educator experiences online; 2) I will need to read about documentation and professionalism, talk to experts in documentation of adults, develop skills in using technology, and learn how to present the materials; and, 3) I hope that learning from other early childhood educators will deepen my own understanding and help me to become a better advocate for our profession. 

Taking my ideas from my questions, I am ready to begin writing my goals. My goals reflect my work and the time I am focusing on Possibilities ECE, about 10-15 hours a week. Your goals should reflect the time that you can realistically spend. Generally 1-2 hours a week is a good estimate. Generally 1-2 goals with an activity for each month works well.

  •  Goal 1: Design 12 pieces of documentation (four trainings, five videos and three documentation panels) on early childhood educators’ experiences on an online platform.
    • Activity 1: Determine a focus of each piece of documentation materials. Research appropriate books, websites, explore trainings, and talk to experienced individuals about each documentation type.
    • Activity 2: Produce four trainings, one training for each month: January, March, May, and September.
    • Activity 3: Produce five videos, one video for each month: April, July, August, October, and December.
    • Activity 4: Produce three documentation panels, one documentation panel for each month: February, June, and November. 
  • Goal 2: Develop skills to produce video documentation and refine skills in training and documentation presentations.
    • Activity 1: Identify all parts of video projection (filming, audio, editing) using a tablet by January.
    • Activity 2: Develop a plan for learning each part of video production by February 10th.
    • Activity 3: From February 10 to April, experiment with filming, audio, and editing to produce a video by April 30th.
    • Activity 4: Review constructivist training materials and videos to gather ideas about enhancing training modules in January, March, May, and September.
    • Activity 5: Read Making Learning Visible and study the documentation panels from Reggio Emelia and Opal School to inspire my own panels.

While there are many more details that go into my plan, you get the idea. If you are spending a few hours a week, reading a book in a month and reflecting on what you read is a realistic activity.

Each month I will check my goals and work on the activities for that month. In December, I will come back and see what progress I made towards my goals and reflecting on my learning and how it changed me as a professional. I will use my reflections to start to think about the next year’s plans.

What professional goal might you set for yourself in 2016?