When we go into teaching, most of us have a why. We know why we teach what we do. Maybe it is because we find the subject fascinating, maybe we wanna give back or we have always dreamt of being a teacher! However, once we start working with our students, the drag of everyday and exhaustion kicks in and sometimes we forget our why. This is where intentionality steps in. But, I also intentionality is an important skill to have as a teacher. This leads itself to the question of “Am I am intentional teacher?”
If you are also a fellow Physical Education or specials teacher you know you get between 30 -60 minutes on average with each class depending on what grade level you teach. Maybe you are an grade level teacher and you get your students all day. However, you only have a limited amount of time. Truth be told, we do not know if tomorrow will truly happen. We go to bed with confidence that there will be a tomorrow but it is not for certain. How are you in your either 30 minute time from or 8 school hours being intentional in how we treat our students with kindness, love, patience and so much more we want to instill in them.
To be able to really process through this, I think we need to start with the dictionary definition of intentional. Merriam- Webster says “ what one intends to be about or a demonstration to act a certain way”. If we break down the word intends it means “ to have in mind a purpose or goal OR to design for a specific use” I think as teachers we are both designed for a specific use AND we have in mind a purpose or goal. I think this can relate to the content we are teaching our students and how we act to them.
This relates to content because are we meeting our students where they are at. Are we providing up to date information that is outside of the box and not just the same old same old.
Being intentional with our content means researching, going to conferences and PD. It means trying to find new ways of doing what you already do! This is why I LOVE social media because I can gain many different ideas from so many teachers! For physical and health education, you can even steal ideas from people in elementary education or other content areas and try to bring it into your classroom!
Being intentional with our content also means though tailoring to our students needs. Get to know the community you live in and learn what they struggle with and what they thrive with. Learn the home situations and what community areas are around. This way you are targeting your instruction to your students and people love that!
It also relates to how we act toward our students and if I am being honest with you; I think this is more important then your content. If you are walking into your day of work and classroom with a bad attitude or you do not have your head in the right spot what you teach that day will not matter. If we are not making sure we are being kind and loving to our students then nothing else matters. There is this quote that says ““People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou. I think this reigns so true with teaching. You can teach so much to these students and put hours into your lesson plans and classroom decorations. But, if you are not nice and are not building rapport with your students then that all goes to waste. We all remember teachers who loved us and were kind to us and really influenced us. For me those teachers were not memorable because of the content, it is what they did for my life.
So how to we prepare our minds and hearts to go into work everyday ready to influence students. We have to start with ourselves.
Everyday we have to prepare our hearts and minds to influence our students. This looks different for every person. Maybe to feel ready for the day you need to wake up early, workout, have some coffee and read. Maybe you need to sleep in a bit more and listen to a podcast. Finding ways to fill your ‘cup’ every single day is important. You cannot fill your students cups and give to them if your cup isn’t full.
We also have to check your heart. When you walk into work everyday or find yourself in a frustrating situation we need to make sure to check ourselves. Do you have the right attitude? Is your head in the right space? Are you being the person you intend to be right now? With these times making sure to watch your attitude and keep going with who you want to be as a person is important. For me, when I am frustrated I take a step back and take a deep breath. Yes, I do that even with students. For elementary students, asking them to take a break or sitting out for a second does the trick for me. That way I can take a second and breath to then walk over and have a conversation.
The last thing that can help you be a more intentional teacher is planning ahead. You as a teacher know your classes and the time of the day that is harder for you. Maybe teaching math this year has been hard or your second grade physical education class is difficult to keep focused. Before these moments have a plan. Maybe you have a crystal light packet in some water because it is nice. Maybe you need to take a deep breath or plan a new way to engage students. Make sure you are prepared and planned ahead.
Making sure you are intentional everyday is important. I know some days are harder than others to make sure your words and actions are intentional. I know all of you teachers out there are amazing and will move mountains with your students. However, reminding ourselves to be intentional everyday is a good way to get our heads in the game to teach everyday.
How do you plan to be an intentional teacher? How do you ground yourself every day?