January: Setting intentions

If we want to accomplish something, the first thing we have to do is set that intention



If you’re anything like me, the past two weeks have been a blur of holiday gatherings, running errands, appointments, some travel, and some much-needed lazy days. As educators, we often take full advantage of the holiday break. And y’all, we totally deserve it.


But now it’s time to get ready to go back – back to the routine, the students, the classroom. Hopefully, you feel a little revived, rested, and ready. Physically, you are ready to go. I’m also going to suggest you get mentally ready to go by setting one or more intentions for the spring semester.


For 2020, I decided to set a theme a month. One of my strongest intentions for 2020 is to help teachers create an intentional classroom. There are several pieces I need to do to make that happen – developing and presenting professional development, writing a book about it, modeling what it looks like. So if that’s my big goal, the first thing I have to do is actually set that intention. My theme for January is setting intentions. And it’s not just for me – it’s for you, too.


Why set intentions?


Let’s be honest – we have limited time and resources. That’s especially true in the classroom. And there are a million distractions – class pictures, assemblies, spirit weeks. How do we stay on track? How do we make sure that we take advantage of the time and resources we do have? We set an intention. This leads to intentional decisions. This leads to intended outcomes.


What does that look like in the classroom?


In the big picture, it means we set goals that we are always striving for. If something doesn’t fit with our goals or intentions for the year, it doesn’t get the time. On a more specific level, it’s about our daily planning – think learning intentions, goals, outcomes. If our learning intention for the week is for students to analyze and compose an argumentative text, everything we plan and execute that week happens with that intention in mind. Everything is purposeful. Our warm-ups, our journal assignments, our exit tickets, our reading assignments, everything goes back to that intention.


What does it not look like?


It’s that random warm-up that lasts 20 minutes but isn’t connected to anything. It’s that days long activity that’s fun but doesn’t lead to any defined learning goal. It’s those days we really didn’t plan. It’s those lessons that float along. The fact is we don’t have time for that.


What do we do next?


First, I would suggest setting broad intentions for the spring semester. What are some big things you want to accomplish with your students? From there, start to practice setting intentions every week – then every day – then every lesson. It won’t be perfect. We’re not in the business of perfect. It’s about being thoughtful, purposeful, and effective.


I’ll be writing and sharing more about setting intentions through the month of January. I would love to hear your ideas.


I will also be presenting on the topic of the Intentional Classroom at Region 20’s ELAR Conference January 30, so if you’re interested, come see my session!

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