Targeting your targets

Jane Basnett

Jane Basnett is head of MFL at Downe House, a successful Independent Girls School in Berkshire. She has been teaching for almost 20 years and is still learning. She achieved an MA in Digital Technology for Language Teaching at Nottingham University.

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Terms come and go, and those good intentions to achieve all sorts of goals can easily fall by the wayside as you and your team succumb to a multitude of everyday activities and chores that need to be accomplished if your students are going to get the grades they need. Add to this the all-important planning and marking - which are integral to student success and which make you a more effective practitioner - it seems nigh on impossible to find the time to do anything other than teach, mark, give feedback and report. These are, of course, key elements of our job. However, what about the targets that are going to impact positively on these key elements? When do we get the time to consider these?

"Before you know it summer is upon you and your targets haven’t featured on the agenda at all."

After the long summer break you need to settle in and get your routine, and then it's the October half term, then Christmas rolls around with all those long evenings. Then you are faced with the short but jam-packed Easter term, and then before you know it summer is upon you, and those targets that looked so achievable at the end of the last academic year do not seem to have featured on the agenda at all.

As a head of department I often consider this challenge and work out ways to ensure that department goals are achieved, as well as my own. Not only that, each individual in my team has goals, challenges and targets, and I hope to be able to facilitate them in their quest too. So how do you ensure that you keep your targets in mind and help your team to be successful in this respect? Following these simple steps may help.

  1. Put your targets somewhere visible. This could be in the front of your diary or as the profile picture of your digital notebook. Make sure you see your targets on a daily basis. Of course, sometimes you will simply ignore them as you may well be snowed under with other tasks. However, if they are visible you will take more notice of them and think about them. If you are in charge of a team, make sure they do the same thing.
  2. Choose the easiest target on the list and start work on it at the start of the academic year. By easiest, I mean most easily realised. This is the target where you know where and how to start. As with any list, being able to tick something off and know that you have made a start provides great encouragement and a boost to morale.
  3. Identify a tricky target and start thinking. You may not even know how to achieve this target, but consider questions such as “who?”, “what?”, “why?” and “how?”, and you will then begin to get some clarity and figure out a potential way forward. These questions may lead you to someone with relevant experience who can help you and will instigate some useful and helpful conversations. This initial thinking process is a first step to achieving what seems, initially, unachievable.
  4. Set yourself a date to review your targets. Even better, set yourself a goal for this date. To reach a date and know that you have a couple of targets well in hand, already impacting on your teaching or department, is invigorating for you and allows you to feel in control. You are demonstrating to yourself and your team that you are capable, driven and efficient.
  5. Use department meetings to discuss ideas and to feedback to others so that the processes you are undertaking can be reviewed and improved upon.

For department targets, much of the above applies except that others are also relying on you to ensure that the department achieves its goals and makes progress.

  1. Use department meetings. At the start of the year (or at the end of the previous academic year) look at each target and consider how you might achieve it. Create a list that divides up the targets into smaller chunks that individual members of the team can take ownership of. Leave no stone unturned and make sure you cover all the targets.
  2. Put targets on the agenda each week. Discussion of these targets and perhaps a weekly sharing of ideas will ensure that these targets are not simply words on pages. If colleagues have to share their ideas, engagement will be high and success likely.
  3. Meet your team. Make time to meet the individuals in your team to discuss their targets and the department targets. Find out how they are coping and how you can support them. Perhaps they can support others in the department?
  4. Know your department strengths and weaknesses. Use the strengths well and get these individuals to lead and oversee a particular target. Remember, while department targets are to be achieved by the team, there is nothing wrong in asking different people to lead on these. If they have expertise or prior experience then make the most of this. They will do a better job than you and enable the team to achieve their target.

These are just some ideas to help you, the individuals in your team and your team itself to target their targets and thus achieve their goals. How do you achieve your goals? I would love to hear your ideas.

How do you achieve your goals? Let us know below!

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