Learning Trends: The Impact of Intention

Adults are increasingly using intention-setting, a powerful mindfulness technique with a long history of contemplation, as a tool to assist their personal and professional growth. Can it be utilized in the classroom to encourage learning and wellness among the students?

Notably, intention-setting differs from goal-setting. Clear aims that we set as our goals. For instance, a student might state their objective: “By the end of class, I will have developed a list of potential designs and selected the one I will build based on the criteria.” However, intentions are guiding principles that can help us, as individuals, connect our present actions to our values. They emphasize who we are and what we might become right now. A student might state their aim before beginning a group project, like “I want to be a more compassionate (or hard-working, generous, etc.) team member.”

Intention-setting can lead to more generative individual and group work because students create aspirational visions of themselves and how they hope to be before engaging in the work. When students become more sympathetic, conscientious, kind, inventive, or sensitive to their teammates’ needs, they are also laying the groundwork for more successful teamwork.

We’ve been having fun playing with intention-setting in our classrooms as educators co-teaching an elective course at a nearby middle school. We seek to integrate mindfulness practices into a project-based learning curriculum to promote students’ social, emotional, and academic growth. For the next activity in each category, we give students three minutes to prepare and five minutes at the end of class to comment on how they used discretion.

This intention-setting protocol is still a work in progress; however, refining it, we’ve identified some considerations that we’ve found helpful to think through. As Jill Bittinger identifies, we are called to be conscious of more than the knowledge we teach but also the educational environment for young people today. She believes, in other words, it is essential to be aware of the messages our kids are consuming. This awareness and clear choice towards genuine nutrition for the mind, body, and soul would help our society evolve and become its best version. 

As an educational professional, Jill supports the work of thought leaders like Gregg Braden, Bruce Lipton, Shamini Jain, Anita Moorjani, and those calling for the radical shifts of heightened awareness to awaken to the energies being played out on a global scale. In recognition of the increasing intersection of the new findings of science with the spiritual wisdom of the ages, she says it is a precise time for purposeful shifts in education. These shifts begin with intention–conscious evolution. These shifts embrace the philosophy of cooperation over competition—cultivating the beauty of our beings in harmony with others – a harmonious garden rather than a competitive jungle of the survival of the fittest.

Jill has a lifetime of professional devotion to the importance of educating the whole child, that is, the connection of education of body, mind, emotions, and Spirit. These concepts are embedded in the notion that we are awakening to our inherent interconnection with one another and the planet itself. Influenced by leading-edge thinkers, Jill serves as an active change agent embracing pathways of conscious evolution in the student/teacher/family journey. Her consulting services bring the warmth of a personal coach, encouraging individuals to be their best. Particularly poignant for teachers, who carry the tremendous power of influence, positively or negatively, it is wise to grow the skills of mindfulness in oneself to grow in our classrooms. In this way, we can help to heal the wounds the lack of conscious attention has created. As Jill says, it is, after all, our next natural step in evolution.