My 2021-2022 Individualized Development Plan Goals

Journal of IDP Goals

In August 2021, a couple of friends and I got together to complete an Individualized Development Plan (IDP)— a tool that helps you plan short- and long-term goals in your life. From our many meetings of reflection and feedback, I boiled my interests down to five focused goals I wanted to accomplish during my fellowship year in Côte d’Ivoire. I’ve posted these five original IDP goals below in order to show where I started with my plan, and eventually trace over how my goals will change throughout this year.

My five goals include:

  1. Improve Teaching and Facilitation Skills
  2. Master French (+ local language)
  3. Understand West African Musical Culture
  4. Reimagine Health and Wellness
  5. Reflect through Digital Storytelling

Note: The [IDP Goals and Objectives] sections may sound a bit dry and repetitive, and that’s because they are! I’ve written (or at best, attempted to write) them as clear and as concise as possible in order to align with the SMART Goal methodology. But if you’re only interested in understanding why I’ve chosen to pursue a particular goal, feel free to skip over them.

I. Improve Teaching and Facilitation Skills

[IDP Goals and Objectives]

By the end of nine months, I will be able to:

  1. Understand teaching in its historical and cultural contexts
    • Increase knowledge of pedagogical theory and research-based teaching strategies, especially those which are culturally responsive across diverse populations
    • Understand the basic structure of national education systems, especially in Côte d’Ivoire/France and the US
  2. Design and implement adaptable and effective lesson plans for long-term use
    • Lead and experiment with lessons and activities adapted to my student populations that reflect short-term and long-term curricular needs
    • Develop my TEFL/TESOL knowledge base, including English grammar, English dialects, and anglophone cultures
  3. Use intercultural communication skills effectively within the classroom and workplace
    • Improve using my voice and precise language (i.e. public speaking/teacher talk) to guide a process or activity
    • Learn/employ appropriate strategies for classroom management and group facilitation
    • Collaborate effectively with co-teachers, coworkers, and administration

As a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, my job is to help teachers and students during English classes at my lycée (rough equivalent to high school in the US), as well as to spearhead their weekly English club. Outside of school, I will be involved with embassy-related programs at two local universities, as well as collaborate with Ivorian NGOs and local community projects.

No matter which field we end up in, I believe that teaching is an important skill that everyone should learn. Teaching also happens to be one of the highest forms of learning and reflection. This year, I want to explore my teaching/facilitation abilities more this year in a new environment. This will involves learning how the education system functions, practicing how to explain and negotiate my role as an ETA, and observing and learning from how local teachers do things.

II. Master French (+ basic Jula and/or Baoulé)

[IDP Goals and Objectives]

By the end of nine months (September to June) of language study, I will reach advanced/superior level* (C1/C2 or ILR 3+) and be able to:

  1. Understand virtually any kind of spoken and written French across a variety of registers, accents, and dialects (listening and reading).
  2. Effectively and consistently use French for all professional and informal purposes, even taking part in discussions on topics unfamiliar to me (conversational speaking and writing).
  3. Be able to design and deliver a presentation on a specialized topic in at least 75% French in a style appropriate to an audience (presentational speaking).
  4. Acquire a basic to low intermediate proficiency of Manding (Jula) and/or Baoulé and participate in everyday communication with native speakers (listening, speaking, reading, writing).

I have been enamored of the French language for a long time, ever since my fourth grade teacher Mr. H taught us the phrase– je ne sais pas. It didn’t matter that je ne sais pas meant “I don’t know”. To my nine-year old ears, saying the phrase in French was the most beautiful way possible to express my own ignorance.

While I ended up taking Spanish in high school, I studied French by myself on the side and got the chance to use it during my time at university when I traveled to Guinea on a summer research grant. Two things struck me about French while living there: 1) the way French is typically taught in classes and online is rather different than how Guineans and other Africans speak it (think accent!), and 2) even though French is the official language in many African countries, there are still many communities who would much rather speak their local language(s).

One of the reasons I decided to come back to West Africa this year was to master the French language. I want to work somewhere between the language industry, intercultural communications field, and the development sector, and having French at my disposal is essential. But even more than that, I want to develop a basic proficiency in Jula and/or Baoulé while living here, as both a way to form new relationships and to understand local culture.

III. Understand West African Musical Culture

[IDP Goals and Objectives]

  1. Develop a contextual understanding of West African musical cultures
    • Gain a broad knowledge of (West) African history, culture, politics, and current events
    • Develop a widespread familiarity of both traditional and contemporary genres of African musics as performed and produced across the continent
  2. Develop foundational proficiency in one or more West African instruments (kora, djembe, or balafon)
    • Be able to apply knowledge of West African music theory and history to interpretation and performance
    • Improve overall musicianship by experimenting with practice strategies, performance preparation, and goal setting

Alongside learning about West African languages, Guinea also exposed me to a diversity of complex and fascinating musical cultures and styles. As a Western classically-trained musician, I began to reconcile my own place in the world and the position my own musical culture held throughout much of the world. Why don’t we learn more about other forms of music in conservatories outside of classical and jazz?

I decided it was time to expand my musical grammar and begin understanding the musics of this place. Through my study of other styles of expression, I’m hoping to transfer these skills to my own familiar creative practice.

IV. Reimagining Health and Wellness

[IDP Goals and Objectives]

By the end of this year, I will be able to:

  1. Understand health and wellness as it relates to me as a human in this world.
    • Understand, compare, deconstruct, and evaluate differing social and cultural viewpoints on health and wellbeing and how they affect me
  2. Develop and thrive on a holistically healthy lifestyle and routine that works for me.
    • Develop and improve mental, emotional, and spiritual health
    • Develop and improve my sleep routine
    • Develop and improve my exercise routine
    • Develop and improve my diet

What does it really mean to be healthy? I always assumed that I was in generally “good health” growing up, especially being raised by a family of healthcare workers. However, I also grew up around varying perspectives on the physical body and its relationship to the self and society, including:

  • Religion
  • Cultural Beliefs
  • Gender Norms
  • Biomedical science
  • Colonial mentality

I have increasingly realized the connection between the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. Having a healthy body (adequate exercise, sleep, and diet) helps me to feel more grounded, focused, and alive. Conversely, I’ve noticed that the mental and the spiritual can manifest within the physical body, with both positive and negative effects. I want to become more familiar with my body and understand how it is connected to these other parts of me, developing a holistic and healthy lifestyle that will help me to lead my best life.

V. Reflecting through Digital Storytelling

[IDP Goals and Objectives]

By the end of ten months of blogging, I will be able to:

  1. Master the major website and content publishing tools to maintain a multimedia blog and produce a blog
    • Gain working proficiency in a variety of related technological tools, such as photography, audio recording/editing, social media, general computer knowledge, etc.
  2. Improve my writing and storytelling abilities
    • Develop a regular, self-reflective practice, such as a daily personal journal
    • Develop a regular reading practice!

There are so many things I could say about wanting to start a blog— particularly how I’ve always wanted to write one but was always too afraid/proud/perfectionistic to start one, but that’s an entire blog post in itself. This year, I plan to use the blog to creatively reflect on my IDP goals (teaching, French, music, health, and storytelling) to learn from and share my experiences with others.

IDP Goals After-thoughts

Looking back at my plan, I can only say to myself: “Wow, that’s a lot!” Even as I was writing them out, I had the constant feeling that some of these goals would have to go due to time constraints. Am I going to try to achieve every single objective on these lists? Of course. Will I achieve every single objective on these lists? Probably not.

The good part though is that I’ve got the flexibility to adapt and refocus this plan to my needs as the year goes on. At least for me, I know that the most important thing about creating a yearly plan is to have the courage to execute it. Let’s hope that my three-month check-in will reveal some successful, if not interesting, results.

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