Here we are, 2018! A new year, a new start... sort of. While much of the world marks the start of a new year this week it can be a bit of a shift for educators to think of January as an opportunity for a fresh start. After all, late summer and early fall mark our new years. Our year is well under way, routines have been set, patterns nestled into. With the exception of people who change classes by semester or trimester, this time of year doesn't really feel like a new start. We've already tried the new things we wanted to try. Our goals for the year are already moving along. There is so much on the plate that thinking about adding on anything else feels ridiculous. I agree. In fact, in the past few years I haven't even made a New Year's Resolution, and it has worked out beautifully.
To be clear, I am not saying that there isn't something to taking the marking of the passing of time as a moment to reflect on how things are and how we want them to be. We should absolutely be doing that, and January is just as good a time as September to do it. I'm suggesting it be done a little differently this time of year: set an intention. Intentions are a powerful, subtle tool for making changes. Intentions do not require any formulaic language, action steps, or measurement. All they take are attention and reflection. An intention, in this context, can be thought of simply as the way in which you want to be . Once you have an intention begin to think on it. At the start of the day, bring the intention to mind and picture yourself being that way. At the end of the day think through how your actions, attitudes, and behaviors compared to the intention. Over time, when we focus on intentions, our actions, attitudes, and behaviors become more aligned with our intentions.
We are all working towards a vision of a learner centered proficiency based education here in RSU2. Our purpose statement and tenets of applied learning are excellent places to draw intentions from. Here are some examples of intentions paired with those statements and tenets:
Cultivating Hope In Every Learner, Every DayI intend to connect meaningfully with each learner in my class
I intend to be a model of hope
Transparent Learning Expectations With Clear Progressions I intend to be clear about what the the learning is and why it is important
I intend to make learning paths clear, both within a target and across targets within a learning experience
Collecting Evidence To Provide Feedback To Targets I intend to give more responsibility to learners for connecting evidence to targets
I intend to use a variety of work and observation to score a target rather than use a target to score work
Learners Engage In Learning That Is In Their Zone of Proximal Development and Interest I intend to create room for learners to ask their own questions within the content or topic
I intend to give learners what they are ready for
Learning Is Applied And Not Simply Assessed I intend to connect learning to larger contexts
I intend to expect learners to do something with knowledge and skills
Culture Encourages Learner Agency I intend to give learners voice in decisions about our class or team
I intend to support learners in developing executive functioning skills
Many classes and teams have other tools to use to set intentions. The visions and codes of conduct set at the start of the year are a treasure trove of intention material. All of our visions, purpose statements, and tenets are powerful and worthy of our efforts. It is up to us to create the conditions for these ideas to flourish. That takes intention.
Courtney is the Instructional Coach for KIDS RSU #2 in Maine. She also hosts a podcast about personalized learning, and is available for independent consulting work.
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