Every January, people near and far herald the year to come with lights. And light does more than create a festive mood. Light brings hope. As this year’s holidays come and go, we can’t celebrate today in quite the usual way. People all over the world have been unable to gather as they would wish for their festivals, but we need life to go on, maintaining joyous moments of hope and unity, despite social distancing.
At Teaching Matters we have been so moved by the quite indomitable spirit of families and students this year. And to our proud teachers in particular, as schools were retooled literally overnight, we continue to be inspired by the ingenuity of your virtual teaching and draw comfort that, even in the darkest moments, there is connection and continuation for those students who need your care the most.
Of course, for many, this time of year will be tinged with sadness; some mourning the loss of those dear to them and others missing friends and family members, often while keeping a distance for safety. If you are among them, you are not alone, and Teaching Matters assures you of our sustained support now and always after school starts back.
As 2021 approaches, shining a lamp for us – supported by the amazing achievements of modern science – we pause to set our intentions, those mindful expressions that bring our attention to an underlying purpose.
As a recent blog posted on Medium.com suggested, “The art of teaching and the act of learning may never be the same after 2020. As the first half of a rather tumultuous academic year comes to a close, it’s the perfect opportunity to set intentions for 2021.” Yes, 2020 posed unforeseen challenges for teachers and school staff but also offered powerful learning opportunities. When coupled together, those challenges and learning moments can help your school pave the way for a more successful and impactful new year.
Additionally, in Setting Intentions: A Powerful Tool to Help Us Learn, educational coaching guru Elena Aguilar writes that intentions “can help us learn in a much deeper and more authentic way, connect with others, and show up as our best selves.” In her Edutopia article, teacher teams are guided through identifying common intentions:
- The What (the activities and topics),
- The Why (the reasoning behind each), and
- The How (the structures, the timing for sections, and the materials needed).
Aguilar reminds teachers, “When you set an intention, you’re likely to make choices that support it—in what you do or think. You might forget all about your intention today, but some little part of your mind remembers it.”
Teachers and teams might also listen to Mindful Schools’ Robert Thomas’ talk on intention, in which he covers how to practice with intention – how to think about intention and especially how to connect or align ourselves with our deepest intentions as we enter into this period of transition together. You may also read the full transcript of the talk here.
For those educators ready to set their own individual intention(s), check out Melissa Eisler’s Intention Setting 101. This guide focuses on how our intentions should be closely tied to our personal thoughts, values, and perspective on life. Intentions can be a clear and specific wish, or as simple as a word or phrase you’d like to align yourself with, like “open your mind and heart,” “love,” “vulnerability,” “strength,” “kindness for myself and others,” “peace,” or “freedom.” The blog reminds us to try to keep the intention positive, so instead of saying “stop being a coward,” or “spend less time alone,” choose the intentions, “be courageous” or simply, “community.”
Remarkably, a year that has necessarily kept people apart has in many ways brought us closer. In the United States and around the world, schools have risen magnificently to the challenges of 2020. As we reflect on the year and look forward to brighter days before us, please connect and share your intentions with us. Find us on social media…
Let the light of beginnings — the spirit of community, care, and above all hope — guide us in the times ahead.
By Lance W. Ozier, EdD