Across the country, there’s been a push to better measure teacher effectiveness. This has resulted in several new evaluation systems (including the Danielson model) being developed and implemented in states across the country. While SLPs certainly aren’t teachers, we are often evaluated either on the same evaluation tool as classroom teachers, or on slightly modified ones, supposed to be tailored for speech-language pathologists.
Part of the Danielson model is setting goals for yourself as a professional. In my district, it is called an individual growth plan, but I’ve also heard them called teacher performance goals.
How in the world do you decide what sort of goal to write for yourself, though? Sure, we write individual goals for students all the time, but it’s certainly challenging to come up with one for yourself!
My advice is to take a step back, and think about yourself as an SLP. What is an area of practice you would like to improve on? Do you have lots of students this year with disorders you are not as familiar with? Do you need to improve on regular parent communication? Do you need to work on your organization? Does your behavior management system need some work? Would you like to collaborate more with classroom teachers? Do you need to figure out a better way to monitor student progress? Do you need to come up with a way to show students what they are working on and why it is important? Would you like to be more involved in your school community? Do you feel like you could use more professional development this year?
If you still can’t come up with an idea, go back to your notes when you looked over your evaluation tool. Are there any areas that you are weaker in, or areas where you don’t have much evidence?
Now, you need to write your goal in a way that is specific and measurable. Most growth plans require goals to be written in the SMART format.
SMART stands for:
Here’s an example of a goal that is not specific or measurable:
“I will improve my communication with parents.”
- “I will improve my communication with parents over the next school year (through May 2016) by sending out a parent survey, creating a master list of preferred contact information, sending home explanations of students' specific disorders, sending homework at least once per month for parents that request it, and compiling activities to be sent home with each student at the end of the year for summer practice.”
If you want to use a goal like this, I highly suggest my monthly and/or summer speech-language homework packets, or my parent/teacher speech-language therapy explanation handouts!
Here’s some more examples of SMART goals:
- “I will help my students realize the importance of speech-language therapy and their goals over the next school year (through May 2016). I will achieve this by creating a display of positive, student-friendly “I Can” posters, informing students of our objective for each session, having my students periodically monitor their progress with goals with a personal growth chart, and having students complete a “Why I Come to Speech-Language Therapy” activity at least once per year."
- Suggested materials to go along with this goal: "I Can" CCSS posters (available for K-6th or 5th-12th), free student goal display, and these free student learning targets from Jenna Rayburn.
- “I will establish a system to more effectively and efficiently monitor progress with the majority of my students’ goals over the next school year (through May 2016). I will achieve this by finding and/or creating progress monitoring tools, rubrics, and/or rating scales for teachers/students for articulation, language, grammar, and social language goals."
- Suggested materials to go along with this goal: my progress monitoring tools for articulation, language, grammar, and phonology; these rubrics for language and social language by Maureen Wilson, this early communicators data binder by Shannon Lisowe, and these CCSS-aligned rating scales by Jenn Alcorn.
- "I will increase my own knowledge and expertise in the field of speech-language pathology while increasing awareness among staff and parents over the next school year (through May 2016). I will achieve this by taking continuing education classes online through SpeechPathology.com, attending the national ASHA convention [or state convention], providing at least one in-service presentation to staff in the building/district, and providing handouts to parents and teachers about their students' disorders and the impact it may have on academics.
- Suggested materials to go along with this goal: Explanation of Speech-Language Therapy Powerpoint, Language Processing Disorders Powerpoint, AAC: An Overview for School Personnel Powerpoint (free!), and Parent & Teacher Speech-Language Explanation Handouts
You will likely need to list the specific steps you will take by what date. If you have written your goal like the examples above, it is pretty easy to choose a month of the school year that you will accomplish each task. Make sure you make your goal achievable - you don’t want to write a goal that you can’t reach in a year, or one that will take too much time on a weekly basis.
What are some examples of goals you have written?