Impact Teams or Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are a cornerstone of modern educational practice, promoting collaboration and continuous improvement. Impact Teams (PLCs) partner with students in learning. They cultivate collaborative expertise to advance agency for all learners in their community. As with any communal endeavor, having a strong direction and purpose is crucial.

While SMART goals have their place, Impact Team CLEAR goals—characterized as Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, and Refinable—offer a unique approach that aligns perfectly with the ethos of PLCs. Let’s explore the advantages of employing CLEAR goals within PLCs and provide some insights on how to craft them effectively.

Benefits of Setting Impact Team CLEAR Goals in PLCs

  1. Promotes Teamwork: Given that the ‘C’ in CLEAR stands for Collaborative, these goals inherently promote teamwork and unity. They are designed to be accomplished through collaboration, ensuring that every member of the PLC is actively engaged and contributing.
  2. Focused Approach: CLEAR goals are Limited in scope, allowing PLCs to concentrate on specific puzzles of practice. This prevents being overwhelmed by overly broad objectives and promotes a laser-focused approach. Teams use statewide data triangulated with Universal Screener data and student voice data to set annual CLEAR goals. Impact Team CLEAR goals should align to school wide improvement goals.
  3. Stirs Passion: An Emotional component ensures that goals resonate on a personal level. When members of a PLC are emotionally invested, they’re more likely to be committed and driven, leading to better outcomes. Have teams dialogue about their moral purpose to connect to their “why”. Then connect goals to your team’s moral purpose. If you haven’t had conversations about moral purpose, engage in dialogue with your team about its greater purpose.
  4. Breakable into Steps: By being Appreciable, CLEAR goals emphasize the importance of breaking larger objectives into smaller, more manageable tasks. This encourages ongoing progress and allows for a more structured approach to achievement. Teams use Universal screener data to monitor the progress of all students. They use CFAs and Unit Assessments to monitor progress in between screener administration.
  5. Adaptable to Change: The Refinable nature of CLEAR goals ensures that they aren’t set in stone. As the educational landscape shifts, these goals can be tweaked and refined, keeping them relevant and effective.

Crafting Successful CLEAR Goals for PLCs: Tips and Insights

  • Open Dialogue: When forming Collaborative goals, ensure that every voice within the Impact Team-PLC is heard. Collective brainstorming sessions can lead to richer and more inclusive goal setting.
  • Prioritize: Given the Limited aspect of CLEAR goals, prioritize puzzles of practice and areas that require immediate attention. This ensures that energy and resources are channeled effectively.
  • Connect to Real Experiences: To imbue goals with emotional resonance, connect them to real-world experiences and anecdotes. This fosters a personal connection and heightens the drive-motivation to achieve.
  • Task Delegation: Once you break down the goals into Appreciable steps, delegate tasks based on the expertise and strengths of PLC members. This promotes clarity, focus and plays to each member’s assets.
  • Regular Feedback Loops: Since CLEAR goals are Refinable, establish regular feedback loops. This allows the PLC to stay adaptive and make changes on-the-fly based on real-time insights and evolving circumstances. Revisit annual PLC CLEAR goals when collecting and analyzing evidence of student learning during each unit of study and after each universal screener administration.
  • Documentation is Key: Keeping a record of the goal-setting process, milestones, and achieved outcomes not only tracks progress but also serves as a valuable resource for future endeavors.

Maintain Focus and Purpose

The CLEAR goal-setting methodology, when applied within the context of Impact Teams, can greatly enhance the collaborative process, making it more targeted, passionate, and adaptable. In the ever-evolving realm of education, staying adaptive while maintaining focus is crucial—and CLEAR goals offer the perfect blueprint to do just that.



Dr. Paul Bloomberg is the best-selling co-author of Leading Impact Teams: Building a Culture of Efficacy. Get a complimentary chapter for Leading Impact Teams 2.0 that will be released in October of 2023 through Mimi and Todd Press.