Goal Setting In The Pandemic

Setting professional and personal goals during the pandemic might require a different focus and frame of mind. As I try and wrap my head around a remote return to school and a switch to a block schedule, it will be necessary to formulate goals that require me to grow in order to best serve my students and family. I was fortunate to meet recently with Emily Zien and we discussed goal setting…which resulted in her writing this amazing post. I love the way this is crafted and lays out the steps that Emily will take in order to be successful in each of her goals. This is what we as teachers must do – model best practice so that others can learn with us.

Emily Goals.png

Goal Setting In The Pandemic

I want to start with a shout out to Andy, who I had the chance to (social-distance) meet last week. In our chat, he brought up something that I had yet to consider: setting goals for this school year.  

In the past when goal setting for a new year, I have compiled a list with the common aim of ‘being better’. Better at the end than I was at the beginning. Goals that positioned me to consistently try to learn and develop my teaching practice. 

Now, we are moving into a school year which is fraught with uncertainty. So many of us are currently navigating planning for a year that’s landscape looks strikingly different than we are accustomed to. With great uncertainty of how we will deliver teaching and learning, setting goals for the school year feels overwhelming at best.

What if this school year’s goal was simply ‘to survive’?

I came up with a list of practices and habits that I will plan to set for the year. No, I did not write a SMART goal. Instead, I plan to use this list to help anchor me during the school year. The aim is to sustain and maintain.  To be as impactful as possible, while still navigating a great amount of uncertainty. To survive, to make it through, and to hopefully lead myself (and more importantly my students) towards thriving in the years to come.

Consider Social Emotional Learning the Lens That I Look Through

I learned from an Institute for Social and Emotional Learning workshop the idea of SEL being a lens to look through in regard to all systems within a school.  Meaning that no matter what I do as an educator, I can view it through this lens and uncover the opportunity for developing student’s SEL competencies.

Some resources that I plan to use for this:

Build Meaningful Relationships

Relationship building this year might look or feel different.  But it is still about finding ways to get to know students, foster connection, & create community.  

Some resources that I plan to use for this:

Explore Innovative Ways to Communicate With Students

Regular communication will continue to help me foster a sense of community and connection.  

To do this, I plan to use a variety of ways to be succinct, to streamline feedback to students, to encourage learning, and to reinforce engagement.

Some resources that I plan to use for this:

Be Purposeful With Learning Objectives, Focusing First on Student Well-being

When it comes to planning, this year will be more about simplifying in order to be purposeful.  More about doing what is best for student well-being, instead of worrying about hitting all the standards.  More about doing what fits best, instead of trying to do it all.

Some resources that I plan to use for this:

Find Ways to Nourish My Personal Wellness Through Self-care

The fact is I can not give if my cup is empty.  Finding ways to take care of my well-being ensures that I can show up fully for my students and for my work.  This is a topic that I plan to explore with my students, as well.  Love is Respect has a solid introduction for talking about self-care with students.

Some self-care practices that I will focus on:

  • Staying hydrated.
  • Moving daily.
  • Meditating with the Headspace app.
  • A daily gratitude practice.
  • Being kind to and patient with myself.


Self-care sidenote: practices or habits intended to nourish our personal wellness are built over time. For self-care to be sustainable, start small, build repetition, and do what brings you joy.

Fill My Tool Box As An Anti-Racist Educator

To be honest, I do not know how I will do this.  My privilege as a white, cisgender individual means that learning to be an anti-racist will be a life-long journey.

Where I have started is to commit to learning and taking action towards understanding how to incorporate anti-racist and anti-bias pedagogy into my teaching.

Some places that I am starting from:


These are my goals that will anchor me for the school year.  When looking ahead for the coming year, what will you use to guide and anchor you?

If you aren’t already following Emily, you really must do so. One of the highlights of my summer was meeting up with her in person and having a chance to talk about all things health education. She’s switching schools this year and heading to Milan, Italy to teach and I’m really looking forward to following her success as the school year starts.

Other slowchathealth blog posts you might like to check out include:

Self-Management by Sarah Chap who shares her journey towards creating an assessment for the health skill of self-management. Modeling best practice she also reflects upon her work and identifies ways in which she hopes to improve her self-care project next time around.

Put on Your Own Mask: Secondary Trauma in Education by Stephanie Kelln. I know from experience that it’s easy to let student trials and tribulations overshadow our own needs and those of our loved ones and if this continues it puts our own health at risk. Steph has put together not only and awesome blog post but also a great list of resources that you’ll find useful when compassion fatigue looms.

Shoot For The Moon a blog post I wrote about a ‘different’ way to set goals. Moon goals!

5 thoughts on “Goal Setting In The Pandemic

  1. I just read about your goals during the pandemic and you said what I wanted to say and never did.
    Our new AP , who’s also our team supervisor, recently insisted on setting the Smart Goal’s to increase students’ performance bringing and setting a specific number of academic achievement for our team. My chair person cowardly didn’t mind although he wasn’t happy and it immediately brought to zero my motivation to speak out and prove all absurdity of this proposal…


  2. Anne M. Carver

    Thank you for sharing these great goals. I’m an Elementary Principal trying to help my teachers write meaningful goals for this year. Yours are perfect and I’m going to share them.
    If teachers are able to connect with students, build relationships and trust, teach what they can, and take care of themselves, we’ll all be ok.

    Stay well.


  3. Pingback: Shoot For The Moon – #slowchathealth

  4. Pingback: 2020 A Year in Review – #slowchathealth

  5. Pingback: Be a Beginner! – #slowchathealth

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