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Goals for preschool teachers: Motivate and inspire your staff

Goal-setting helps teachers strive for improvement and create the best possible learning environment for your childcare center.

Goals for preschool teachers: Motivate and inspire your staff

Preschool teachers play a vital role in shaping the lives of young children. Their dedication, creativity, and patience can lead to a lifelong love of learning. To keep the spark alive, it's important for preschool teachers to feel motivated and inspired in their work. Goal setting is a powerful tool to help teachers stay engaged, strive for improvement, and create the best possible learning environment for their students.

Why are goals for preschool teachers important?

Goals provide direction and focus, prevent burnout, and keep teachers motivated. Goals also promote professional growth, which is a rewarding investment in your teachers (not to mention: it can boost your employee retention and attract top talen). Achieving goals builds both confidence and a sense of accomplishment for your staff. At the end of the day, a motivated and inspired teacher creates a positive ripple effect across your childcare center.

Types of goals for preschool teachers

Now that you we've covered the importance of setting goals at your childcare center, let's explore different types of goals for preschool teachers.

1. Professional development goals

Early childhood education is an ever-changing field, with new research and learning approaches constantly surfacing. Staying up-to-date and continuously learning is crucial for providing the best care and education. 

What are some professional development goals for preschool teachers?

Goals for preschool teachers can include attending conferences, obtaining new certifications, reading resources from experts (like books or articles), and observing other influential teachers. The best place to start is by understanding the particular teacher's interests and catering the goals to them specifically.

  • Attend early childhood education conferences/workshops. Immerse teachers in the latest trends and gain new ideas for the classroom.
  • Obtain an advanced degree or certification. Enhance expertise and career opportunities with further education. Consider specializations like Montessori or Waldorf certifications.
  • Read professional development books or articles. Dedicate time for teachers to learn from experts and expand their knowledge base.
  • Observe another teacher's classroom. Get inspired by exploring different teaching styles and approaches to classroom management.

2. Classroom goals

Classroom goals focus on improving teaching practices and creating positive experiences for children. This goal type is great to consider for both new and experienced preschool teachers. Encourage collaboration by connecting tenured and new teachers to share ideas. Some ideas are:

  • Try a new play-based learning approach. Explore fresh ways to engage children and foster exploration and creativity. Research methodologies like Reggio Emilia or Montessori for inspiration.
  • Incorporate more diverse and inclusive literature and activities. Expand children's perspectives and create a classroom where everyone feels welcome and represented.
  • Create a more welcoming and well-organized classroom space. Introduce a designated calm-down area or invest in new sensory items to enhance learning experiences.

3. Personal goals

It's important to remember that a preschool teacher's well-being impacts their performance in the classroom. Personal goals help teachers prioritize their health and self-care, creating a better work-life harmony. Here are a few examples:

  • Try stress management techniques. Explore mindfulness practices, yoga, or find other healthy outlets to manage the day-to-day.
  • Prioritize work-life balance for better classroom energy. Set boundaries to disconnect from work outside of school hours. This helps to return to the classroom refreshed and energized.
  • Explore hobbies and interests outside of teaching. Try out activities that bring you joy and help you recharge! Creative expression, socializing, or physical activity can all support overall well-being.

If you're seeing multiple teachers express similar personal goals, take time to consider how you can include these goals as unique benefits for your center. For instance, if teachers want to practice mindfulness, can you offer a subscription to a meditation app? If teachers are looking to connect with colleagues, can you schedule a quarterly luncheon? Investing in and listening to your teachers not only helps them grow and feel valued, it also helps your center retain and attract quality teachers.

4. Student-centered goals

These goals highlight teachers’ impact on child development and overall well-being. Consider setting goals like:

  • Help students build a specific skill set before kindergarten. Identify key developmental milestones and create activities or lesson plans designed to help children reach those milestones with greater ease.
  • Encourage a love of learning. Spark curiosity and excitement by introducing attention-grabbing themes, making learning fun, and celebrating each child's progress.

Create a classroom environment where all children feel safe and supported. Focus on ways to help students with emotional regulation, conflict resolution, and develop a sense of belonging in the classroom.

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Setting SMART goals

While setting general goals is a great start, the SMART goal framework makes them even more effective. SMART stands for:

  • Specific: Clearly define what you want to achieve.
  • Measurable: Include standards to track your progress.
  • Achievable: Set realistic and attainable goals.
  • Relevant: Ensure the goal aligns with your overall vision.
  • Time-Bound: Establish a deadline for completion.

Turning a General Goal into a SMART Goal

Here's a quick example of how to transform your preschool teachers' general goals into SMART goals. Try it out and watch teachers hit their goals in no time!

  • General goal: I want to learn more about positive discipline.
  • SMART goal: I will enroll in the online course "Positive Discipline in the Classroom" and complete it within two months.

Finding support & inspiration

Setting goals is empowering, but it's important to have a support system as teachers work towards them. Encourage your teachers to:

  • Connect with colleagues: Collaborate with fellow preschool teachers at your center or within your district. Share experiences, brainstorm ideas, and offer each other support.
  • Join online communities: Connect with early childhood educators from around the world through online forums like Reddit, Facebook groups, or professional organizations dedicated to preschool teaching.
  • Seek out mentors: Find a more experienced teacher to guide you, offer advice, and share their kind wisdom.

Do you need more teachers to help support your staff?

Goal-setting is important for growth, but if a teacher is burnt out or overworked, the best thing you can do is book a sub or teacher to support them. If you need subs to cover lunch breaks, vacations, or call outs, SitterTree can help. You’ll connect with experienced early childhood educators in your area. You can even post jobs for full and part-time hires. Sign up and post a job—all in the same day.

Or get started with an introductory phone call.

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