Bethany DeCent, Mounds View High School
Starting up the school year is full of planning. Planning for your students, curriculum, lesson plans, assessments, etc. You name it, you’re planning it. Planning is one of my favorite things to do as an educator, and especially as an English teacher. Getting together with colleagues to talk about what is going to happen with the first novel, how to “hook in” the kids in the first days, and how to figure out ways that students will learn the material best are just a few ways we work to set up success for our students.
When it comes to planning the curriculum and executing the Plan/Do, we have done exceptional work in our PLCs. But, when it comes to planning out a goal, to see if students are successful at understanding the curriculum, the Study/Act, it can be tricky. Using S.M.A.R.T. goals in your PLC is how we have historically created goals at MVHS. Our goals in our PLCs need to be measurable. They should also help us to be able to look at data in a timely manner in order to respond to student needs.
One question I would like to pose to everyone is: How many students have you included in your SMART goal? 80%, 90%, 100%? Many PLCs can have really amazing SMART goals, but they aren’t necessarily about ALL students improving. What do I mean by ALL students? I want to point out the idea of including “100% of students” in our SMART goals. It might seem like a minor detail or a small change, but there is something to say for a goal that has incorporated the language of “100% of our students will improve…” Some teachers might ask if 100% is truly attainable? It’s true that it might not work to meet 100%, BUT, at least we are setting the bar pretty high for ourselves and our students to improve on the assessments we have set up for them. And, putting the goal at 100% truly communicates our belief that all students can learn.
Another question I would like to ask is: How does your PLC plan to respond to students in a timely manner if they are not meeting the goal set? Some of the goals I have viewed incorporate response time or a commitment to looking at all assessments.
Take these goals for example:
- 100% of students will reach 75% proficiency on all common assessments.
- Students who do not meet 70% on formative assessments will get 80% or higher on all summative assessments after receiving personalized instruction and re-assessment.
In goal 1, the teachers are focused on ALL students meeting a proficiency level on ALL common assessments. I like this goal because they are looking at everything– this might mean formatives and summatives. So, the teachers have made a commitment to look at a variety of assessments. The only thing this goal does not address is what happens to students who are not meeting proficiency. This doesn’t mean that the teachers have not thought about their response plan, it just isn’t stated in the goal.
In goal 2, the teachers are directly addressing the students who do not meet the 70%. They are planning to implement individualized and differentiated instruction if a student falls below the 70% mark. And, once they complete the summative, they’ll be looking to see if the students improved and if they made it to the 80% and beyond mark. So, this goal really is focused on the response plan to students. They are addressing the question of: How do you respond when a student is not meeting the goal?
Both of these goals have some elements that I really love. They are not the “be all and end all” when it comes to SMART goals. They are just some examples of looking at SMART goals in a way that truly shows how a team is responding to students.
So, as you’re looking at your PLCs SMART goals and considering what might be best in supporting students who are not meeting proficiency, look at how some other PLCs write their SMART goals. Or, try something completely different when writing out your goal this year. Be creative! Be bold! Believe in your students! Challenge yourselves!