While faculty and staff at many Folio schools traditionally set goals in August and September, that’s not the only time of year when goal-setting can be done. (In fact, some Folio member schools set goals mid-year every year!). If the circumstances of 2020 have left your school considering mid-year goal-setting (or goal revision), the good news is that there are some great ways to accomplish goal-setting in January that will feel supportive, authentic, and effective for your faculty and staff. Here are a few of our recommendations:
Curricular goal-setting: One of the most pressing challenges we hear from teachers these days has to do with the looming reality that we’re not going to “cover” all of the material on the syllabus. In some cases we’ll be lucky to get through half of it. If this is what’s on your teachers’ minds, try having them set curricular goals. Consider giving them a question stem such as, “How might I re-envision my curriculum for the rest of the year, in order to make sure that I retain ____, ____, and ____?” Working in grade-level or course-level teams, encourage teachers to formulate goal questions of this form and consider next steps. (Here’s a worksheet you might use to help them with this process.) The action item tracker in myFolio will help teachers articulate concrete steps towards curriculum revision, and will help their leaders and coaches see how it’s going. Perhaps most importantly, the permission to cut back on content that is granted though this approach will come as a tremendous relief to many teachers.
Pivot goal-setting: Goals need to be malleable and flexible; the goals we begin the year with are not necessarily the ones we find ourselves needing to work on come January. This can happen for all sorts of reasons: shifting contexts, shifting self-awareness, shifting role expectations, and so on. Consider giving your faculty and staff time and space to revisit their goals using the new Goal-Setting Check-in feature. Build in time for everyone to connect and reflect on whether those goals are still the right ones to focus on, and make changes as needed — the first faculty meeting back after winter break is often the perfect time for this kind of reflection.
Reverse goal-setting: We’ve all learned a ton this year. There has been struggle, there have been obstacles, there have been unmet needs, and there have been faculty and staff members innovating, rising to the challenge, discovering new ways of working in order to do what had to be done. None of this could possibly have happened without goals — spoken or unspoken, conscious or unconscious — that faculty and staff were working towards. Let’s capture the learning that happened, celebrate the effort and growth that was required to overcome the obstacles, and document those “hidden” goals. Consider using Folio’s Goals Wizard retrospectively, using a set of revised retrospective prompts, to help faculty and staff think backwards about the learning and growth they accomplished this fall.
Lifeline goal-setting: Sometimes a goal is actually a lifeline, a cry for help. And there’s nothing wrong with that. One of our favorite questions at Folio (from the book The One Thing) is, “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier?” Encourage faculty and staff to think this way. What’s the one thing making their lives hardest right now? If they had a magic wand and could change one thing in their current context, what would they change? We can’t wish away COVID, but if we can get people to set that aside and figure out what else is blocking them, it’s amazing how easily a solutions-oriented goal can fall out of that. Maybe it’s technology that isn’t working right. Maybe it’s the inability to get sufficient sleep. Maybe it’s a struggle to cover the content. Or maybe it’s feeling disconnected from one’s students. Those are solvable problems, which can form the basis of a “How might I…?” goal. And once administrators can see those problems in writing, they can work alongside the teacher to provide the necessary support, throw the lifeline, and begin making the unsolvable solvable.
Seize the opportunity for a little mid-year goal-setting (or resetting) with your faculty, and let us know how it goes!