Setting Professional Goals as an SLP

As school based SLPs, many of us are required to write a professional goal for ourselves each year.  In my district under the Danielson model, we call it an "Individual Growth Plan," while others may call it "Professional Development Goals," "Professional Goal Setting," "Professional Learning Plan," or something similar.


Now, as SLPs, we write goals for our students all the time, but I've found that it can be much more difficult to write a goal for yourself!  So today, I would like to share some example goals that may help you with writing your own.  Something to keep in mind is that your goal(s) must be SMART; that is, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.


So, where to start?  

First, take a moment to try to look at your job/role as an outsider.  If you are like me, you probably know areas of therapy you need to learn more about, or areas that you would like to improve in.  Do you need to learn more about stuttering therapy?  Do you need to become more comfortable with AAC devices?  Do you want to share some of your knowledge and expertise with others?

Next, think about your students.  Do the majority understand (in a general sense, at least) why they come to speech-language therapy?  Can they explain it to someone else?  Is your therapy style effective for your students, or would you like to try a new approach with some (such as centers with large groups or the 5 minute/speech speech approach for articulation)?

Also, think about other teachers/professionals in your building.  Are there ways that you can help support or re-inforce some of their curriculum?  Do you see your students struggle in specific environments outside of your therapy room?  Are there other professionals that might be willing to collaborate with you or be receptive to push-in therapy?

Don't forget about parents!  How do you communicate with them?  Do you know how the majority prefer to be contacted (text, phone call, note home, etc.)?  Are there ways you could improve on this?  How do you keep track of their contact info, as well as keep a record of your communication with parents?

Let's take a look at some sample goals you might choose.  

Keep in mind, you want to make sure your goals are realistic - don't give yourself too many extra tasks that will interfere with your regular job duties or home life.


The way goals must be written tend to vary across districts and states.  After speaking with several different SLPs, it appears that some (like me) write professional goals for themselves, while others must write goals tied specifically to student improvement.  For my district, I have to choose one main goal with four objectives to be accomplished through the year.  I have heard from some SLPs that their districts require several goals, each with individual objectives.

Here is the professional goal I wrote for myself during the past school year: 



Here were the "action steps" I wrote - essentially, measurable ways for me to meet this goal: 


  1. I will provide packets of information to each teacher, regarding each of their specific students on my caseload, their disorders and goals, and possible academic impact.  (by August 2015)
  2. I will provide packets of information in parent-friendly terms, specific to each student (regarding their disorder and potential academic impact), to be given to parents at the beginning of the school year and at each annual review meeting. (by May 2016)
  3. I will attend & present at the 2015 national American Speech- Language Hearing Association conference.  (in November 2015)
  4. I will take at least two continuing education courses on topics pertaining to my current caseload. (by May 2016)
Here are some resources and articles if you need ideas for accomplishing this goal:
  • From TpT: My Parent and Teacher Explanation Handouts were used for steps one and two.  I made lots of copies at the beginning of the year, then kept them on hand for whenever I had an IEP meeting.
  • SpeechPathology.com:  I used my personal subscription to watch courses on stuttering assessment and treatment.
  • If the ASHA conference isn't convenient and/or too expensive, you could substitute any specific conference or course that would be more realistic for you to attend.

Here are some resources and articles if you need ideas for accomplishing this goal:

Here's another example goal:




Here are some possible action steps:

  1. I will provide packets of information to each teacher, regarding each of their specific students on my caseload, their disorders and goals, and possible academic impact.   
  2. I will send out a survey to my IEP students' classroom teachers to determine which classrooms would benefit the most and which available times work best with my existing therapy schedule.
  3. I will collaborate with at least one general or special education teacher to plan and execute at least one lesson or center time during the first quarter [month, semester] of the school year.  [You could repeat this one for each semester or quarter, or name a specific teacher/discipline in each one].
  4. I will trial the "5 Minute Articulation" approach with at least 5 different students this year in order to determine if shorter, more frequent sessions are more effective than being pulled out from the classroom for traditional, longer therapy sessions.  
  5. I will trial centers for articulation therapy for student groups of 3 or more in order to determine if it is more effective than traditional therapy sessions with all students at the table together.
Here are some resources and articles if you need ideas for accomplishing this goal:

Here's another example goal:



Here are some possible action steps:

  1. I will provide packets of information to each teacher, regarding each of their specific students on my caseload, their disorders and goals, and possible academic impact
  2. I will provide packets of information to each parent about the nature of their child's speech-language disorder and the possible academic impact at the beginning of the year and at each IEP meeting.
  3. I will send out a survey to parents to determine how each prefers to be contacted, day/time preferences for IEP meetings, and which families would like speech-language homework/activities sent home and how often.
  4. I will write at least five notes/emails to different parents each month regarding their student's progress in speech-language therapy and tips to maintain their progress at home.
  5. I will provide weekly/monthly homework activities for parents who request it during the school year.
  6. I will maintain a page on the school's website, offering tips and suggestions for parents to help promote communication skills, which will be updated on a monthly/quarterly basis.
  7. I will promote awareness of good communication habits and information during Better Hearing  and Speech Month in May.
Here are some resources and articles if you need ideas for accomplishing this goal:

And one last example:



Here are some possible action steps:

  1. Before the school year begins, I will create a bulletin board of "I Can" statements in student-friendly language.  During each therapy session, I will review which statement(s) we will be working on, and then at the end of the session, have each student tell what was targeted.
  2. During the first week of therapy, I will have each student fill out an individual profile that lists his/her general goal areas and why these areas are important.  These will be displayed in the therapy room and reviewed periodically throughout the year as needed.
  3. I will use progress monitoring checks at least once per quarter to assess student progress with their individual goals.  I will review progress individually with each student, and he/she will update their personal goal graph sheet with their progress each quarter.
  4. I will have my students working on articulation, phonology, and/or fluency fill out a self-rating scale at the beginning and end of the school year.

Here are some resources if you need ideas for accomplishing this goal:


What professional goals have you written for yourself?  



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5 comments

  1. Great post! I am saving it for the day I might have to start doing this. I love the new look of the blog, too! Lovely!

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  2. Hi Natalie,

    I happily stumbled upon your blog this morning and immediately fell in love with your clean graphics and awesome examples. I'm a school psychologist just starting a new blog for other school psychs out there, and began this journey after reading many blogs by SLPs. I can't tell you how many resources and helpful tips I've stumbled upon by others in your field. Case in point: this post effectively described the importance of SMART goals with wonderful examples. I'll be using your tips in my professional plan this year. Thanks for the content!

    Ericka

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  3. I like the idea of focusing a growth goal towards my skills rather than student performance. I am going to try this approach for this school year. Maybe it'll motivate me to improve my areas of weakness!! Thanks for the examples!

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  4. Excellent post! I am always looking for new ideas for PDP goals! I purchased your "Speech-Language Therapy Explaination handouts for parents and teachers" from TPT last year and use them all the time! It's an excellent resource and has really helped when I am describing and explaining our services to parents and teachers! Thank you!!!

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