Why I suddenly hate SMART goals.

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I have decided that I hate SMART goals. We all know the ones…

Why do I hate them? Because I don’t know what I don’t know. It’s hard to set goals when you aren’t really sure what is out there.

Speaking to an ex-colleague, but still friend, today on the phone. She told me that her current school have told her that they are ‘not an ICT school’ and they ‘will never be going down that track’. Today as she used iPads in her classroom for her students to complete a short Google form, she was scrutinised, as iPads are ‘only to be used by special needs students’.

In the next breath, she tells me that she is planning on attending DigiCon. Of course, she won’t be asking her school to pay for her attendance, or even asking for the day off so she can attend both days. She’s going to call in sick. I mentioned that even though I have attended this wonderful event for the last 2 years, I won’t be attending this year. This year, any PD we attend must be clearly linked to our SMART goals, which we formulated in Term 1. I was encouraged to think further that ‘IT’ for my SMART goals, as apparently I already know so much about this area.

As we live in a ‘remote’ area (6 hours drive from Melbourne), flying to Melbourne isn’t a budget-friendly option for PD opportunities. Instead, we are trying to bring the PD to our school, so more staff can benefit from a speaker.

I understand all of this, but here’s my problem. After attending DigiCon for the last 2 years, I learnt heaps. I learnt about things that I didn’t know existed. How could I possibly formulate these things into SMART goals if I didn’t even know about them? Sure, PD opportunities always have a ‘focus’ – but instead of just one speaker talking about one foci, I have the chance to listen to 10-15 different people talk about a myriad of things – some more IT focused than others.

I feel that SMART goals aren’t very smart at all.

If they are Specific, they narrow the lens for learning – what about all of the associated learning that may happen along the way and take you along a new, more enjoyable tangent?

If they are Measurable, it gives it a ‘limit’ and I don’t like having a ‘limit’ imposed on how much I can or cannot learn.

If they are Attainable, it doesn’t offer much of a challenge. I understand that goals aren’t meant to be completely out of reach, but it is nice to actually have to try.

If they are Relevant, I fear that by the time you actually reach it, it may be out of date – we need to keep up with the latest and move forwards!

If they are Time-Bound, it shows that learning must stop at a certain time – what happened to the concept of life-long learning?

I’ve still had to write my SMART goals. Heck, even my students have to have ‘goals’ to try and improve upon.

But sometimes it’s hard, because we don’t know what we don’t know.

6 responses »

  1. Hi Fiona.
    Think I understand where you’re coming from.
    Recently I was asked to ‘say a few words’ at a retirement function for a friend and colleague. We’d started our careers together at a tough Western Sydney school that we both regard as the making of us as teachers, professionals and people.
    There were more than a few words shared and a PowerPoint of images of places that adventure in education had taken her – which included an extended contract in Africa before returning to country schools here.
    I’d observed that our first school community was never going to contain her – she was destined and ready to explore horizons far beyond our foundation years as strugglers, eager to find our own way.
    Frameworks like SMART goals have always been guidelines for me – starting points to steer a way to play the game & develop approaches that best suited the students we taught and influenced.
    There were ‘kids’ from my friend’s last schools at this retirement event – they were smart, funny, appreciative, from a range of ability levels but you can be sure that what they had accomplished as a direct result of their school years could not be measured by one set of tests or targets.
    I hope you will be able to find a way to make any frameworks that stand in your way, work for you and your students and that you are fortunate enough to have people who push, prod and encourage you to take full advantage of opportunities within your reach.
    🙂

    • Thanks Lynne. I can definitely relate. I guess I feel a little bit like a caged bird – not sure where I’d like to fly to, but I’d like to explore without being judged and held too accountable to have ‘results’.

  2. Maybe your SMART goal shoul be to implement 1 innovatation to your classroom practice by the end of year. Of to find emerging uses of tech to be presented to school. You can add conferences like this to your PL request based on this. Just a thought!

    • Great idea, but then it’s not specific enough. Believe me, I’ve tried to cover all bases, but I need to name the ‘thing/innovation’. Hard when you don’t know what you don’t know!

      • Can you use accreditation at higher levels as a goal – part of that would be researching innovative practice to implement has project for your standards based career development. There has to be a way to spin it so it works for you & school

        • Oh I like that! I’ll remember that for my next SMART goal cycle. I worry that sometimes my leadership doesn’t want my career to develop too much in case I suddenly know more than them.

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