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Episode 40: Setting an Intention

Description: “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.” —Elena Aguilar

Listen Now:


1. Read Elena Aguilar's thoughts on setting an intention here.


The Self-Care for Educators team cares about the content-accessibility for all educators. If you have trouble accessing the audio for the podcast, the transcription has been provided below.

Transcription: Hi, and welcome to Self-Care for Educators. I am your host, Tina Boogren. This is episode 40, which just blows my mind. And, this week what we're going to do is we're going to explore the idea of setting an intention. Those of you that practice yoga are familiar with that phrase, right? Oftentimes we're asked to set an intention for our practice, and I love this idea.

Those of you that have been in workshops with me, oftentimes I'll have you set an intention as we get started, particularly in anything that's about two hours or longer. I definitely make some time to do this. So, first thing I do is I just ask you to set the intention. So, sample intentions are things like being fully present, ignoring my cell phone, I'm going to contribute to the chat-box in meaningful ways today, I want to stay engaged to the best of my ability, I'm really excited to connect with others ... And then, once we set that intention, I give a little bit of the research and the thinking behind why.

I show this quote from Elena Aguilar. I love this quote. So, she says, "when you set an intention, you are more likely to make choices that support it in what you do or think. You might forget all about your intention, but some little part of your mind remembers it. That's the powerful part. So, how I think of this and how I tend to describe this is when we set the intention, it's in our working memory. So, we're conscious of it, but just a few minutes down the road, we move on to something else. And so, I just picture it kind of metaphorically that, that intention was sitting in the front of our brain and it just ... It kind of works itself back. It's not gone, it just works itself back, but the power is it's there.

And so, as we move throughout our time together, as we go to do things ... that little part of our brain will push us to do things or say things to help that intention come true. I think there's a couple of real life examples that, that kind of prove this point, that when we set an intention and we're, we're not even conscious that we're doing it. So, consider days ... Oh, those horrible days where we wake up in the morning and everything goes wrong. Right? We're running late. The coffee didn't start. We spill something right away. We stub our toe on and on and on. And, we say something along the lines of, "Oh, today's going to be terrible." In actuality, what we've done in that moment is we've set an intention. And, if you think about it, we tend to have a really terrible day on those days. It's like our brain said, "Great, you want a terrible day? Fantastic. Let me point out all of the horrible things."

Versus those amazing days where we wake up, oftentimes on a Saturday, and we get to kind of take that big stretch and catch our breath and move slowly throughout our day. And we think, or say something like, "Oh man, today's going to be a great day." And, play that tape forward and think about the fact that we usually then have a great day, because again, we have set that intention. And so, our brain says, "Great. Let's point out all the things that are going to make this an amazing day." The power of doing this and again, something so, so simple, it doesn't mean we don't even have to write it down. We can just think about it. I like to write my intention down as part of my journaling that I do in the morning, but I think there's a real power in just being thoughtful about this on your way to work. So, either while you're getting ready in the morning, or if you are on your drive or your bike ride or your walk to work, whatever your commute looks like, be purposeful in thinking about setting an intention for your day. This helps you move through your day with purpose.

You can have a few intentions. Maybe you kind of think of your day in chunks, and you have an intention for the morning or an intention for when you are teaching and then an intention, an intention for when you are on your plan period or at lunch. I often think about a personal and a professional intention. So, let me just throw some sample ideas out there to get your own thinking started. So, professional intentions can be setting an intention to have a positive interaction with this particular student today, or I'm setting an intention to have a positive interaction with this particular colleague today, or I'm setting an intention that we are going to have an amazing, positive, incredibly productive IEP meeting meeting with this family. Or, we're setting an intention that we're going to use our plan time wisely. Or, we're setting an intention that we are going to be fully present for our fourth period class that so desperately needs every minute of our, our attention.

And then, we can set some personal intentions as well, things around self-care that maybe we're going to set an intention that we are going to actually stop and eat lunch today. Maybe we set an intention that we are going to drink all of the stupid water. Maybe we set an intention that we're going to allow ourselves to take a quick walk around the building at the start of our plan time or a quick walk, you know, outside on the track with a friend. Before we head home for the day, there's a gazillion trillion million ... I just made that word up. It's official intentions that can be set. I just think that this might be a really, really great way to help us make it through the end of the school year.

As we think about the idea of the Primacy/Recency Effect, which basically just tells us that we tend to remember the beginning and the end of things that the middle gets kind of blurry. I think about that in terms of this particular school year. And, as we start approaching the last part of the school year, this is the part that we're going to remember. This is the part our students are going to remember. You know, I can't stop talking about this being a legacy year. And, I think even more importantly, within the legacy year is the last part of the year. We'll remember how the school year started, and we're going to remember how the school year in. So, this is our opportunity to be purposeful and intentional about how we want to end the school year. You are doing such an amazing job. You're going to get to the other side of this. You're going to get to a place where you're going to look back and be like, man, I can't believe we did that. And, you will have done it. And, I'm so stinking proud of you. And so, the hope is this week, I want you to just play around with setting an intention.

Think about ... Maybe you like to write it down. Maybe want to put it on a little sticky note so that you can be reminded of it. That's even more powerful throughout the day. Maybe you just simply want to mentally set that intention on your way into school. Maybe this is something you want to do with your students. It's a powerful activity to set an intention for the day or the class period. Maybe this is something that you do with your PLC collaborative team, that you set an intention for that particular meeting, or you set an intention as a school or a staff as to how you want to end at the end of the school year this year. I can't wait to hear how you utilize this and how this works for you. Please jump on over to the Facebook group and share.

As always, a huge thank you to Brooke for making this happen. Thank you to Marzano Resources and Solution Tree for this job I get to do. And as always, a huge thank you to you, my bad-ass Self-Care Squad. Here's to having an intentionally positive, amazing week. I'm cheering so hard for you.

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