The importance of intentionality

“Ultimately, human intentionality is the most powerful evolutionary force on this planet.”

~George B. Leonard (American author b.1923)

Next time I have the opportunity to talk to a new or pre-service teacher about improving their teaching (like tomorrow in my PLC), I will give them the following 2 thoughts to consider:

#1 – Reflection

You will do a lot of good things and a lot of not so good ones as a new teacher. This is normal and perfectly acceptable. Reflect on the good and the bad in order to shift the balance in favor of the good. This is a gradual process that will frustrate you with its glacial pace.

#2 – Intentionality

The greatest difference between a novice teacher and an expert is not necessarily skill or knowledge but intentionality. A novice teacher does things – good and bad – by accident. A master teacher does good things intentionally to achieve the desired end.

Caveat – the best way to shift from novice to expert, from accident to intention is reflection (see #1, above).

2 thoughts on “The importance of intentionality

  1. Hi, Zack again from Dr. Strange’s class in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. Same old, same old. I agree that new teachers will make mistakes, and we need to learn from those mistakes. However, I disagree that novice teachers are going to do good things on accident. I think that depends on how skilled a person is to begin with. Some are just more gifted than others – not that you will read this or much less, comment back. But thanks for not reading!


  2. Zack,

    Sorry again that it took me a few weeks to reply to your first post. I’ve really been slacking on my blogging this year as I’ve been working on my Master’s degree. I know how frustrating it can be to leave comments and not get a reply!

    You are absolutely right, novice teachers can and will do good things on purpose! My point was really that the more experienced you become (and the more you develop as a professional) your ability to intentionally select the right procedure, protocol, assessment, intervention, accomodation, etc. becomes much more polished. I sometimes look back on the good things I did in my first years of teaching and realize that I didn’t really know then why they were so good; at least not with the same depth of understanding I have now. You will reach a point in your career, if you push yourself to grow constantly, where you will become much more of a master teacher. At some point, the realization hits you that you know what to do next, and why that is the best move.

    Teachers can be talented and knowledgeable but mastery only comes with practice. Furthermore, I have seen many teachers who have taught for years and never improved. They simply repeat their 1st year of teaching every year until they quit or retire. My opinion is that this happens when one does not reflect on the past with an eye to the present and future.

    The best way to become a master teacher is to reflect on your teaching, whether on your own or with colleagues. I encourage you to keep your blog going as a reflective tool. That is one of the best uses of blogs, in my opinion!

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