Why create an intentional classroom? Why now? Why always?

Clear goals have never been more crucial to instruction than during this time in education


Before the strategies, before the activities, before choosing a great story or article, you have to know what your goal is. You have to know your intent. Without that goal or mark or objective, you don’t know where you’re going. If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you ever going to get there? Think about it like this: you are setting off on a journey. How do you choose the right path if you don’t know where you are going? You have to find that spot on the map, your destination, before you can decide in which direction you are going to head. Do you remember that scene in the original animated Alice in Wonderland? Alice meets the Cheshire Cat and asks him for directions. She wants to know which way to go, so he asks her where she is going. She says she doesn’t know. He replies that it doesn’t matter which way she goes then. We know better, right? We know the path we choose to go down does matter, and where we end up matters, too! That’s why I decided to sit down and write this book. It’s not about flashy strategies or blow-their-minds super activities – it’s about the absolutely necessary basics. It’s about figuring out where you need to go. It’s about creating the foundation that you need to ensure student learning. Once you have that, add all the glitz and glitter you want – but without it – the glitz and glitter don’t really matter.
-Kristen Henry, from the Introduction of The Intentional Classroom: The Path to Purposeful Teaching

The idea for my second book, The Intentional Classroom: The Path to Purposeful Teaching started about a year ago – just after I published my first book, Guiding Questions. As with Guiding Questions, I took my ideas for The Intentional Classroom out to trainings and conferences to gauge educators’ needs for this type of resource. I found the need for which I was looking. And during this pandemic, I found the time. I also found that with the switch to online teaching, the need became even greater. Goals need to be that much clearer when we can’t be right there in the classroom with our students or when we are teaching using an asynchronous model where students’ questions cannot be immediately answered. Clarity and a well-planned lesson become paramount.


At the core, I wrote The Intentional Classroom because I felt the need for a back-to-basics approach to effective instruction – an approach based on foundational practices. I’ve attended many trainings outlining strategies, strategies, and more strategies. And strategies are great… if you know how, when, and why to use them. You have to know where you are going. If not, what purpose does that strategy really play in the broader picture of learning?


If you want effective instruction with positive student outcomes, you need to know where you want to end up. You need to create intentions, goals, outcomes. You need to make effective use of the little time we actually have with our students.


That’s why I wrote The Intentional Classroom – to give guidance and to create a path to more purposeful and deliberate teaching. And that type of teaching is more important now than it ever was. Online teaching begs for a clear purpose, clear goals, and clearly defined outcomes. It requires well-planned lessons and clearly-linked assessment. It calls for creative differentiation.


My own experiences training online have shown me how much more planning it takes to make an impact with instruction. You have to have your game together. You have to have purpose.


While my book was originally conceived when we were teaching face-to-face, it provides a roadmap to help with online and hybrid learning.


In the text you find:

  • How to set broad intentions

  • How to create intentional relationships

  • How to create intentional classroom management

  • How to intentionally plan

  • How to intentionally differentiate

  • How to intentionally assess

  • How to intentionally reflect

  • Ways to set intentions during PLCs

  • Considerations for being intentional online

  • Templates for PLC agendas

  • Templates for planning

I aimed to be straight-forward and practical – to give educators something they could immediately use. I aimed to be clear and purposeful.

My ideas are constructed from my years of experience in education – both as a teacher and as an administrator. I’ve seen instruction through both lenses, and I bring those perspectives to this book. I’ve also had the privilege of observing teachers across the state, and witnessing what great, and not so great, teaching looks like. This book is all of that put together.

One important thing to remember is that being intentional is a mindset. It’s a way of looking at your classroom. It is about process and perspective. It is not, however, about perfection. Education is never about perfection. It is about progress and growth. And like our students, we progress and grow, too – always striving to reach more students, achieve better outcomes, and improve the community who depends on the work we do.

I hope you start a journey with me as you explore The Intentional Classroom. No matter where you are on your path as an educator, you can join me. I think you will find it a reflective, thoughtful, and purposeful journey.

And while we are all remote, you can find more information about my books on my YouTube channel.

The book itself is available on Amazon at this link.

I want to give a special thank you to Abby Rayburn and Laura Tannenbaum for their vast amount of support in the final production of the book. Abby, thanks for all the work you did on the cover to make it work, and thank you to Laura for not only the photography, but all the revision and editing.

Looking for more insights about how to create an intentional classroom? Contact me at kristen@khliteracyeducation.com

Wishing everyone a great back-to-school season!

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