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The start of a school or new calendar year is the perfect time for K-12 educators to reflect and focus on setting goals. Here are three ideas to consider.

The beginning of a new year is often a time of reflection and transformation. It is a time to think about new events, let go of what has happened in the past and open one’s mind to new ideas. I always enjoy seeing the quote: “Today is the first day of your 365-page book. What will you write?” when the first of the year arrives.

The new year is also a time to check in on goals that have been created. What was established at the beginning of the school year as the goals for the school? Were parts achieved? Do you need resources? What are you willing to let go of if necessary? Setting goals and, most importantly, sustaining them requires a disciplined routine and an open mindset to deal with challenges.

January gives us an opportunity to do a check and balance to achieve these “resolutions.” Don’t make them big, complex or requiring intense change. Keep it simple and focused. Who says that goals are only set on the first of each year? Goals can be created at any time of the year as long as an identified need has been established. Don’t create goals to have them, but to guide you in your program.

Here are three ideas we offer as you engage in goal setting:

Look for Themes

“Goal setting can be overwhelming as there are so many things to accomplish. I look for themes in the work I do. I revisit surveys given to students on academic, college, career, or social-emotional lessons delivered and identify which topic showed that students needed more information.  From the results, I then create a goal to work on in helping students better understand the topic. After each program or lesson, I do another survey to check for understanding and any additional resources needed. It is an ongoing cycle that helps the program grow and better connect to students and family interest.” – Deborah Hardy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor

Be Practical

“My recommendations are along the practical lines for setting goals. These are strategies that I have learned and continue to practice today. Technology is my friend in this process.

In the world of work, you will be hard-pressed to find an organization or company that doesn’t “live” by calendar functionality. This is a learned skill. Break bigger goals into specific tasks and set calendar reminders at the quarter or halfway point toward your goal. I schedule these onto my daily calendar so that the appointment serves as a reminder and helps me be accountable.

Utilize your inbox of your email as a to-do list. I will email myself subjects or topics that need to be completed to serve as a reminder. Never mark an email as “read” unless the task is complete. Goals are crucial to success and it’s important to set yourself up for success early. It’s never too early to begin healthy goal setting.” 
– Matt Liberatore, LCPC, Senior Advisor

Less is More

“Setting too many goals can lead one to not focus on any goal. This has been true in my personal and professional life as well as for students with whom I have worked. When the list of goals is much beyond three to four, it all becomes a blur. Take the time to thoughtfully think through what it is that you want or need to accomplish for yourself, your classroom or your students. Then turn that into a SMART goal. It may be simply one goal that will be the game changer for you or your students. Once a goal has been achieved you can always add a new one! Mary Docken, VP, Outreach

At the end of the 365-page journal, your story will be a personal reflection, a guiding document for future goals and a compilation of teachable moments. So as January opens a new year, embrace the moment and set new ideas in place!

Deborah Hardy

Dr. Deborah Hardy is a senior advisor to Intellispark. She has 25 years of experience as a school counselor and is a former director of K12 school counseling services in New York. Currently Dr. Hardy works as a consultant and provides training for school counselors in developing the support for all students by embracing the whole child approach and personalized learning. Dr. Hardy works on topics such as implementing a comprehensive school counseling program, curriculum writing and technology for school counselors, multi-tiered of support processes, and other topics. Dr. Hardy is an adjunct professor at NYU, LIU and Western Connecticut State University. Dr. Deborah Hardy is also founder of GuidED Consulting.