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Why Setting Intentions is SO Important for a Successful School Year

A new school year is the beginning of a spectacular adventure.

Teachers are trailblazers who lead the way for their students to explore uncharted terrain and make grand discoveries. With a compass and roadmap in hand, teachers envision the final destination and then plan their journey from start to finish with precision.

Yet, any good teacher knows that the most thought-out plan can go awry, as all adventure routes have unexpected twists and turns. Some students lose their way and travel off course, time goes by too fast to experience every learning moment, morale can drop when the going gets tough, and sometimes the entire expedition needs to be rerouted. 

What makes a teacher extraordinary is their ability to set high hopes and lofty goals, while also being adaptable to change, responsive under pressure, and maintaining a clear vision of their intention for the journey as a whole.

Setting intentions is not the same as creating goals. Here is a brief look at how they differ:

    • GOALS are about putting a plan in place, taking action, and achieving a final result. You can easily track goals and they tend to have a final destination.

             Goals = what you want to achieve

        • INTENTIONS are about reflecting on your personal values and attitude, and creating a positive vision for your life. They support a journey of personal growth. 

                 Intentions = how you want to feel

          Let’s go back to the beginning of the grand adventure.

          You have your compass and roadmap in hand. Check! You have mapped out a route to get from the start of the year to the end. Check! You have a plan to keep students on course, strategies to maximize your time, words of positivity when morale drops, and a back-up plan when you need to go in a whole new direction. Check, check, check, and check!

          What comes next is spending time focusing on what you intend for this journey: for yourself, each individual student, and the class as a whole. What does each day look like, sound like, and feel like? What is your intention for the year as a whole? 

          For example, you may intend to be patient, caring, and compassionate to each student, especially the ones who are a challenge to connect with. You may wish to be a better listener in order to know your students at a deeper level. Your intention might be to have a classroom filled with laughter which requires you to hone your comedic skills. You may intend to take more breaks to balance your energy through the day or practice daily mindfulness to regulate your emotions and maintain a positive mindset.

          To truly create momentum for the BEST YEAR possible, setting intentions . . .

          • Reflects how you want to show up in the world with purpose and meaning 
          • Invites you to focus on what is positive in your life with hope and optimism 
          • Helps you to stay grounded in the present moment than thinking too far ahead 
          • Encourages slowing down and being mindful of your thoughts and actions 
          • Improves well-being and emotional regulation by focusing on how you want to feel
          • Reduces negative self-talk and doubt by envisioning what is possible to achieve 

          As you journey ahead with your students this school year may it be an expedition like no other. May your intentions be like the North Star to light your path.


          The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” ~ Lao Tzu


          Want more ideas and inspiration for setting intentions? See our Setting Intentions Journal Prompts resource in our shop. Click HERE.

          Traci L. Scheepstra, Ph.D., is the CEO/Founder of Embodied Learnings. Want to know more about her work in education? Read here!

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