“It’s our intention. Our intention is everything. Nothing happens on this planet without it. Not one single thing has ever been accomplished without intention.” --Jim Carrey
My most productive days begin with the routine of setting an intention. There is something rewarding about identifying a goal for the day and thinking about a plan to achieve that goal. Beginning the day with intention connects me to my authentic purpose and allows me to experience the day with a sense of direction and focus. It seems as if everything starts with intention. When I decide to buy a birthday present, call a friend, make a grocery list, read an article, I always start with intention. It’s the same in our teaching world. Intentional teachers begin with a goal in mind. They reflect on the “whys” and the “hows” behind the practice with an understanding of the strategy, why it is important for learning success, and how to get students there.
It seems so natural for us as teachers to set goals FOR our children, especially if we do not trust that they can set goals for themselves. Instead, what if we give children opportunities to set intentions and to plan for their own learning? If we truly want to deepen learning in all areas, strengthen motivation, and build independence, this practice will make a difference in your classroom.
In the Mindful Brain, Daniel Siegel states that, “Intentions create an integrated state of priming, a gearing up of our neural system to be in the mode of that specific intention: we can be ready to receive, to sense, to focus, to behave in a certain manner.” Neuroscience confirms that the practice of setting intentions can open the door to learning.
With that in mind, consider establishing a routine to check- in with children before and after independent work time. Also, “Plan-Do-Review” is one example of a three-stage process used in many early childhood classrooms that can help children learn how to set and reflect on their goals for learning. If we provide the structure and supports necessary to establish a practice such as this, we can move beyond choice into ownership. We can then invite children to share their ideas about what they want to accomplish as learners and to think about how they will do it. Making intentions public is an important part of the process that encourages motivation and commitment. Sharing reflections at the end of the learning experience reconnects to the intention and develops the thinking skills children need throughout school and into adult life.
Growing intentional learners is everything.
How will you establish routines in your classroom to help children experience learning with a plan and purpose?