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How To Get The Most Out of 2018

Happy New Year!

The start of a brand new year gets most people thinking about how to make the new year better than the last. Many people set New Year’s resolutions only to face the disappointment of seeing them fail within the first month of the year. So the question is: How can you set yourself up for success to get the most out of 2018?


One of the best ways to figure out where you should be going is to look at where you’ve been. Reflection gives us a clear look, in hindsight, of the successes and, shall we say, “learning experiences” of the past year. Below are some questions that can give you a starting point for you reflections. Answering them will give you great insight into your teaching.

What have I done last year that got me the results that I wanted?

  • Did you learn something game-changing from a conference?

  • Did you take a course or get a certification in a specific pedagogy?

  • What ways did you make learning music faster or easier for your students?

  • What ways did you challenge your students to think more deeply about the musical content?

  • What teaching strategies got me the best musical results from my students?

What have I done last year that did not work and what can I learn from it?

  • What in my teaching was confusing or unclear for your students? How can you improve or change it?

  • What moments made teaching frustrating for you this year?

  • What moments made learning music frustrating for your students?

  • What was my “biggest failure” of the year and what can I learn from it that will help me improve my teaching?

  • How can I improve professionally as an Elementary Music Teacher?

Goal Setting

Have you heard of SMART Goals?

They are goals that are:

  • S: Specific

  • M: Measurable

  • A: Achievable

  • R: Results-Focused

  • T: Time-Bound

An example would be:

Create and assemble an after-school, auditioned, Orff ensemble of 20-35 students who are exemplary behaviorally, academically, and musically who perform 5 well prepared performances and audition to take one performance related field trip per year by March 6th, 2018.

This goal tells what number and caliber of students you are looking for how many performances you intend to have and audition for, and what date you plan to assemble the group by.

Have a Plan To Stay On Track

If you followed the goal setting steps you can now create an action plan using the O.P.A. method:

Outcome: Your smart goal goes here

Purpose: Why you intend to fulfill your goal, ex. how it well cause growth for you, your students, and the community.

Action: What steps you will have to take to achieve your goal.

Putting dates by each of your action steps will help keep things moving. You can even amplify this by setting each of the dates in a digital calendar with reminders to help keep you on track.

Have an Accountability Partner

One of the best ways to make sure you don’t get off course on your journey to achieve your goals is to have someone to walk on the journey with. Finding an accountability partner will add rocket fuel to your momentum in achieving goals.

The only question is:

Who should I select to be an accountability partner?

Here are some questions to help me choose a good partner:

  • Do I know, like, and trust this person?… I mean really.

  • Does this person tend to encourage me, or shoot down my ideas?

  • Is this person getting results similar to what I want?

  • Is there synergy and cooperation, or jealousy and competition between us?

  • Is there mutual respect between us?

Remember, the accountability partner relationship is not a one-way street. Make sure that you have something to bring to the table and that you are being helpful and encouraging to your partner.

Progress Not Perfection

The last thing to remember when trying to get the most out of 2018 is: Progress Not Perfection.

So many times we set goals and get close to achieving them but don’t quite make it. We may plan 5 performances but only put on 4. We may want cover 6 units this year but only get through 5. At the end of the day, everything doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes we fall short, and sometimes things go way better than we could have ever hoped for. The key is to recognize the progress and not get to hung up on meeting goal perfectly.

Again, Happy New Year, and I hope that these tips help you find a renewed passion for teaching elementary music!

What are your goals for 2018? Share them in the comments!

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