Lindsay Brazell

Music Educator and Creative Professional

New Year, New You! Setting Goals for You and Your Students

Happy New Year to you all!

If you are like me, you love a fresh start, whether it be a new school year, new semester, new house, new notebook (be still my heart)…there’s nothing more refreshing to me! The new year brings opportunities to make some changes, set some goals, and create a blank slate.

As educators, it is super important to set goals for not only ourselves, but for our students. Sure, they can set their own goals, but setting attainable goals FOR them accomplishes a few things:

  1. It shows students that you believe in them and their abilities.
  2. It introduces students to the process of achieving a goal.
  3. It gives them a tangible example of their own growth, and the growth of the ensemble.
  4. It establishes trust! YOU are leading them towards the goal!

Before you consider your goals for your students, you must first reflect on your own teaching. Leadership requires much self-reflection, because if we are not leading effectively, we are doing a disservice to our students. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What has been working really well?
  • What has been failing miserably?
  • What concepts are troubling your students?
  • Are you giving your best as an educator? Are you taking care of yourself?
  • What qualities, both musically and socially, does your ideal student possess?

Once you have a clear vision of where your classroom is now and where you want it to be, then you can start setting goals for yourself and your students.

Here are just a few examples of some goals you can set:

  1. Students will earn a superior rating in sight reading at state festival.
  2. Students will create and execute a service project by the end of the year.
  3. Students will sight-read passages with leaps greater than a third.

These are just a few examples, but it is important to note that they are all MEASURABLE. If a goal is going to be achieved, there needs to be a way to measure growth and progress.

Saying, “My students are going to be better sight readers this semester,” isn’t specific enough. How will you know they are all better sight readers? A pre test and a post test isn’t always a great indicator because you don’t know what information you are looking for. BE SPECIFIC. 

Say, “My students will sight read a 2-measure passage on solfege with intervals up to a fourth, with 2 or less errors.” There you can see true results. Your pre test will indicate what concepts need reviewing, and your post test will show you exactly if those concepts were learned.

Not only should your goals be specific, but they should be REALISTIC.

“My students will sight read Brahms Requiem in its entirety” is totally not OK. For anyone. Long term goals are great, but being realistic will help you attain them. Start with some 4-part hymns…and maybe work towards a movement of Brahms. Ain’t nobody got time for the whole thing! (Unless you do, in which case, I’d love to talk to you and be your friend…)

Lastly, in addition to your goals being measurable, specific, and realistic, they should come with a PLAN. Nobody likes when batteries aren’t included!

Saying, “I’m going to wake up 30 minutes earlier to exercise before school 3 days a week,” is awesome and wonderful, but HOW are you going to do this? The only kind of alarms that we obey are security and *sometimes* the fire alarm. (Side note, I’m slightly concerned with society’s lack of response to fire alarms…it seems like we brush it off unless we smell smoke. Isn’t that crazy??)

So what’s your plan? Set your alarm for 6:00am, move your phone on the other side of the room so you actually get up, put your workout clothes out the night before, etc. If you don’t know HOW you are going to achieve these goals, I don’t even know where one would begin!


Maybe you just read all of this and are super pumped to set some goals and go get ’em. Maybe you are like, “Cute idea, Lindsay,” and will move on with your day. Don’t do that!

Think of a goal for either yourself or your students, or go crazy and do one of each! Go to my FaceBook page, and leave a comment under this post about your goal! The act of writing it out publicly makes it even more real, and gives you some accountability!

Go forth, and set goals!!


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About Lindsay

I’m Lindsay, a choral music educator by day, a singer-songwriter by evening, and a writer when time allows. You can find my latest album, The Room I Found – Lindsay Morelli on iTunes.

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