Written: Jennifer Appel
-Dr. Kate Siner
I’ve been practicing yoga for about 15 years. I love every aspect of yoga and would consider myself a yogi! [YES, I’m a card carrying vegetarian who drives a bright RED Prius] Indeed, I’ve experimented with all types of yoga: Vinyasa, Hatha, Buti, Beach, and even ‘Goat’ yoga! Recently, I was sitting on my mat at the beginning of class, like I have for the past 15 years and started reflecting about how cool it would be if our students thought of themselves in the same way that yogis think of their practice...
For those who are unfamiliar with yoga, each class begins with students being asked to meditate in some way and center themselves so that you can fully experience the practice of the day. While you are in this meditative state, you are asked to set an intention for your practice. You can think of a word or saying that sets your purpose for the day. While I have done this thousands of times it finally occurred to me that this is exactly what I’m asking my students to do every day, but I am not as articulate as my wonderful insightful yoga instructors.
What if we shifted the mindset of the learning target in school, into more of an INTENTION for the day?
Perhaps, we would inspire much more authentic buy in if we thought of the class period with more of an intention than simply a target. By giving student choice and internal voice over their school focus they'd be well prepared to maximize their classroom experience. Obviously, if we want our students to take ownership of their learning, why don’t we have them set their intention for the hour/day/etc.. How could 30 individual students possibly all be presumed to be passionate about the same learning target and exactly the same time. By personalizing their INTENTION for the class period, we’re able to capitalize on their strengths, needs, and purpose.
When doing yoga, your instructor always reiterates that if you get distracted or frustrated you must realign yourself to your day’s intention. There is no judgement in a yoga studio and your intention is personal and matters to you, not anyone else. What a strange concept to think about in a classroom! Perhaps, let’s not just have one target for everyone, maybe we need to think more about the intention for each individual and that there is no judgement in this classroom.
Additionally, why should my learning target as a teacher be the exact same for a teacher across the hallway. They have different students, dynamics, personal challenges, etc. Naturally, my intention for the class period could and should be unique to my own space, mindset, and needs.
**How might a student-centered approach facilitate individual learning intentions?
**What lessons from the calm, welcoming space in a yoga studio could be applied to the ideal classroom culture we hope to create?
**How might we infuse mindfulness into our daily work with students?
**What would our classrooms look like if we granted ourselves permission to deviate from agreed upon learning targets into teacher specific intentions?
Award Winning Culture supports mindful intentional learning rather than arbitrarily imposed educational mandates.
At the end of yoga class you always do savasana which is corpse pose (or for non yogis, laying still on your back). You venture back to your intention and thank yourself for giving up an hour of your time and doing yoga. What if modeled gratitude by thanking our students for giving up an hour of time and being vulnerable enough to really focus on their intention for the hour?
How powerful would it be if our students felt they were being recognized and verbally rewarded for their intentions and learning new concepts that day?
Imagine the positive metacognitions that would flow through our classrooms and schools as students shifted into the role of co-author in their own personalized educational story…
About the Author
Jennifer is a teacher at Enterprise Middle School. She has been teaching for 20 years. Her passion for education comes from growing up in at education driven family and wanting to help and serve others. She is now driven to create an environment where all students are able to learn and become passionate about serving others. Jennifer can be contacted through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on twitter at @jennifermappel. Follow AWC @awculture on instagram @awardwinningculture. Follow Wildcat Nation on instagram @emsleadership. #WildcatNation #AwardWinningCulture
Award Winning Culture was created by Hans and Jennifer Appel with the sole purpose of creating an educational mindset of Positive INTENTIONALITY and ACTION; with a daily mantra to make our sphere of influence stronger through Character, Excellence, and Community. Part of AWC's mission is to highlight outstanding educators, companies, and resources that support an Award Winning Culture. Both Jennifer and Hans work at Enterprise Middle School aka Wildcat Nation. Wildcat Nation received the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award in Washington, for its award winning culture and the 2018 Global "Class Act Award" for Kindness.