It is important to determine, before school begins, what you hope to accomplish with your students by the end of the school year. Come up with four to seven major goals that identify what it is you want your students to know or be able to do differently at the end of the year that they didn’t know or were unable to do on the first day of school.
Long-range goals can be a mix of instructional/academic goals and behavioral/social goals. Instructional goals focus on what students will be able to do academically by the end of the year. Behavioral goals focus on the attitudes or traits you hope to instill in your students.
Having long-range goals will help you plan and make decisions on a daily basis throughout the year. For instance, if a goal is for students to plan and complete long-range projects, you should plan on devoting instructional time to several long-range projects over the course of the year.
Your goals should also help you make decisions regarding what you want to emphasize with students. If one of your goals is that students will "learn to study independently and stay on task," then you need to make an effort throughout the year to discuss, model, and provide feedback regarding students' on task behavior.
Sharing your goals with your students and their families at the beginning of the year will let them know what you feel is important and where you hope to guide students.
Identifying long-range goals will also help you stay on track throughout the year. As the year progresses, you can periodically ask yourself if what you are doing on a daily basis is aiding (or hindering) your efforts to help students reach the goals you’ve set.
To develop long-range goals, consider these questions:
What do you want students to be able to know and do at the end of the year that they may not know or be able to do now? What knowledge, processes, attitudes, behaviors, or traits do you hope to instill in your students? What do you want students to remember about their year with you?
What are the building, district, and/or state level goals for your students in the grade level or subject you teach? Your goals should reflect some of these.
What goals do other teachers at your grade level have for their students? How about your colleagues at the next grade level—what do they feel students coming to them will need to be successful?