*This is a legacy provincial website of the ATA. Visit our new website here

Section 3: Develop a Professional Growth Plan


Professional growth plans can take many forms. They can be textual or graphical. They can include mind maps or web formats. Whatever the format, the plan must demonstrate a relationship to the Teaching Quality Standard or the Principal Professional Competencies for School Leaders in Alberta and should include the following essential components of a good plan:

  • Name
  • Dates
  • Goal(s) including reference to TQS or LQS
  • Strategies to achieve Goal(s)
  • Resources to be used
  • Timeline
  • Descriptors of indicators or
    measures of success
  • Outcome at year-end: Reflections
    and implications

You might consider using the following tool Guiding Questions to Develop Your Professional Growth Plan to start the development of your growth plan.

Sample Templates for Growth Plans

Following are several templates that can be used to develop a professional growth plan. Choose the one that best suits your needs while incorporating the components of a good plan.

Developing Learning Goals

Professional growth is a result of identifying professional goals to improve your professional practice and taking action towards achieving those goals. Once you have completed the self-assessment, a general goal or TQS focus area you might select could be to focus on "inquiry-based learning". As you develop your own learning goal, a more specific one would be "to integrate inquiry learning into my grade 7 mathematics pedagogy using targeted teaching and learning strategies".

Meaningful goals:

  • have substance and meaning for the teacher;
  • stretch current thinking and practice;
  • can be achieved and, therefore, don’t lead to frustration; and
  • have deadlines that help to ensure that the goal is attained.

A common technique for writing goals is to think about SMART goals.

S—specific, significant, stretching
M—measurable, meaningful, motivational
A—agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R—realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T—time-based, timely, tangible

A SMART goal describes an observable behavior or action. By using an action verb, the SMART goal answers the question "What is to be done?" The following are some action words for developing SMART goals:

  • Apply
  • Attend
  • Arrange
  • Conduct
  • Construct
  • Create
  • Contribute
  • Develop
  • Design
  • Enrol
  • Experiment
  • Implement
  • Integrate
  • Investigate
  • Join
  • Maintain
  • Mentor
  • Modify
  • Organize
  • Participate
  • Pilot
  • Produce
  • Publish
  • Read
  • Review
  • Revise
  • Serve
  • Share
  • Use

Possible Strategies and Resources

Once you have identified your goal(s), it is important to think about the strategies, timelines and resources you will employ to achieve the goal(s). First of all, make sure that a goal is realistic and achievable within the time and resources available in a given year. Outline the strategies and timelines you will use to accomplish your goal. For some goals, it may be better to break the goal into manageable pieces that can be part of a multi-year growth plan.

You, the learner, are in control of your learning. Since you chose the goal(s) based on self-identified needs, you also should choose the strategies and human and nonhuman resources to achieve your goal(s). Not all strategies require attendance at a conference, workshop or other formal PD event. There are many possible forms of learning that can be considered when considering learning strategies that best meet your needs.

Tool 3.1  Strategies or Activities for Professional Growth

Some strategies are directed by the individual teacher whereas others may involve colleagues or a learning community within or outside of your school. Other strategies involve attendance at workshops or conferences.  Search out which resource(s) might be best to help you achieve your goal and include them in your plan.

Having identified the strategies to be employed, it is important to identify the resources, human and/or nonhuman that you will need. Sometimes funding will be required, e.g. attending a workshop of conference, whereas at other times, no budget or funds are needed, e.g.  a mentor teacher or coach on staff, etc. Some possible resources available to provide support to teachers are identified in the following tool.

Tool 3.2  Possible Resources for Professional Growth

Meaningful Measures and Indicators of Success

How do you know if your plan will be successfully completed? An effective professional growth plan involves pre-identifying indicators of success and measures or data that relate to achieving the professional development goals. Indicators of success define what the end result or successful completion of the growth plan will be acceptable to you and will look like in practice. Indicators provide answers to questions such as “What do I anticipate will be different in my professional practice as a result of accomplishing this goal? What will my students be doing differently? How do I anticipate student learning will change or  improve as a result of achieving this professional goal?, etc.”

Meaningful measures identify the tools one will use to collect data and/or provide evidence of successful goal achievement in preparation for the year-end review with your administrator.

Tool 3.3  Meaningful Measures