Step By Step: A Goal-Setting Strategy for Principals

Posted on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

goal-setting strategy for principalsIt won’t be long before the school doors open and the hallways are buzzing with chatter and the bustle of life again. Before that happens, though, we’d like to talk a little bit about goal setting.  

Goal setting not only has the potential to enhance the learning experiences of students, it can also positively influence our school culture, and unite our staff in a shared sense of purpose.  To help principals establish a goal-setting sequence and put it into play, we’d like to share a step-by-step process from Abby Bergman, Judy Powers, and Michael Pullen’s book, The Survival Kit for the Elementary School Principal

Step By Step: A Goal-Setting Strategy for Principals

Step 1: As you form your committee, solicit the help of as many stakeholders as possible. You will always see more “buy-in” when you involve teachers, staff, and parents in decisions that impact the school.

Step 2: The best place to start is by reviewing the district goals with the committee.

Step 3: Next, review the needs of the students. Sometimes, a needs-assessment survey precedes the goal-setting process. In other instances, you may refer to a state or district benchmark that sets a specific target for student performance.

Step 4: Once student needs and data patterns have been identified, gather your committee together and begin to brainstorm initiatives (these can be very broad at this point). List everything. Nothing is unreasonable at this point!

Step 5: Now that you have your big list, it’s time to pare it down and look at it with a critical eye. Consider feasibility, resources required, and whether or not the idea actually addresses a need. Now may be a good time to refer to previously established district goals for comparison.

Step 6: Have each member of the committee think about how to achieve these potential goals. What are some specific activities that would support fulfillment of the goals? What resources would be needed? How will we know that we have achieved our goals?

Step 7: Set another meeting to refine these goals (Don’t be surprised if you find that some of these ideas no longer seem appropriate or feasible).  

Final Thoughts
As you craft your goal statement, keep in mind the SMART Goals plan (which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based) and ask yourself the following questions:  


  • Is the goal well defined?
  • Is the goal clear to anyone who has basic knowledge of the goal?


  • Can the goal be measured and by what means?
  • What evidence will indicate achievement of the goal?


  • Is the goal realistic in terms of its reach and time frame?
  • Does the goal represent a true stretch in achievement?


  • Does the goal address the need(s) identified?
  • Will it “make a difference?”


  • Does the goal have a clear time frame including a target date?
  • Are the assessment devices available prior to the target date?

Photo credit: twicepix / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo credit: plnaugle / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)



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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, educational leaders, Goal-Setting Strategies for Principals

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