Intentional Teaching: Examples and Strategies

Intentional teaching in early childhood is an interesting topic for educators and parents because both parents and educators need new effective educational approaches. The process of teaching and learning is very complex, and it always combines different contexts, interactions between children and teachers, and different content. The role of teachers is impossible to underestimate because they are in charge of making these interactions happen and delivering the material. Intentional teaching is aimed to make the teaching process more meaningful and effective.

What Intentional Teaching Is

First of all, let’s consider the intentional teaching definition. This is an “active process and a way of relating to the children” that is based on recognizing children’s strengths. The intentional teaching approach requires teachers to be thoughtful about their decisions and actions. Everything a teacher does should be aimed to improve children’s overall development and maximize the effectiveness of the learning process.

Intentional teaching requires teachers to set clear goals and to plan the educational process so that they can achieve specific outcomes. Teachers should recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their students and choose the best ways of interaction, thinking about children’s development. In short, the meaning of intentional teaching is obvious from the very name of this approach. Teachers should rely on intentional decision-making in their relationships, curriculum, and administrative responsibilities.

Intentional teaching is a much more dynamic process than traditional approaches because the whole learning experience becomes well-planned and goal-oriented, even when it looks improvised. Intentional teaching is all about decision-making, and it is based on planned experiences, while also requiring teachers to quickly react to any of the children’s inquiries. Although planning is important, teachers should also be able to quickly adapt to unforeseen circumstances.

Teachers may use different intentional teaching strategies and they need to understand the ndividual learning capabilities of each particular child. Besides, teachers should understand how the learning process works. To choose the right strategies and maintain effective communication, teachers should also know children’s interests. Even the curriculum isn’t determined strictly by teachers but rather co-created with children. Creative curriculum intentional teaching cards are often based on conversations with kids and aimed at specific skills.

What Is an Example of Intentional Teaching?

Intentional teaching may involve a vast variety of activities aimed at identity development, building relationships, overall children’s wellbeing, active learning, and communicating. Given the variety of intentional teaching strategies, there are countless examples of intentional teaching. Intentional teachers apply investigation and problem-solving to everyday situations and encourage curiosity. Teachers may intentionally create challenges so that children can experience the application of ideas in practice. Quite often, intentional teachers also carefully choose the right voice and gestures to create a sort of roleplay.

The intentional teaching approach can be used in various situations. For instance, teachers may use open-ended questions so that children can formulate unique opinions and use argumentation. Intentional teaching may also apply to children’s daily routines. For instance, teachers may encourage children to manage their personal belongings. Teachers may also focus on improving kids’ self-confidence, helping them build relationships, or exploring practices related to safety and health.

6 Strategies for Intentional Teaching

Intentional teaching strategies are based on the parents’ goals. Teachers need to consider children’s interests and skills, and they should also take into account parents’ aspirations for their kids. Therefore, the first step of intentional teaching is to determine the goals and priorities. This way, teachers can choose the right strategies and come up with a curriculum tailored to the needs of children and their parents’ vision. Here are the six best intentional teaching strategies that help teachers achieve better results.

  1. Shared priorities for the curriculum

As we’ve already mentioned above, parents should be involved in the education planning process, helping teachers choose the right approach. For instance, parents can determine priorities for the setting. Teachers should also adopt an individual approach, considering individual features of children’s development. The teachers’ priorities should not only align with the parents’ vision but also create opportunities for children so that they can pursue their interests and use their strengths.

  1. Intentional interactions and environments

Teachers can encourage shared problem-solving and combine various teaching behaviors, including modeling and demonstrating. Teachers may also participate in kids’ play and get actively involved in the process. This way, teachers can introduce creative ideas. At the same time, it’s important not to disrupt the element of improvisation.

Various engaging activities enable teachers to demonstrate subjects from the curriculum while kids are having fun. For example, teachers may explain gravity force while children are playing basketball. No matter what approach you choose, the main thing is to extend the learning experience, making it more engaging and comprehensive.

To answer the question “what does intentional teaching mean?” you should just keep in mind that it’s children-centered and goal-oriented. All the interactions in class should be tailored to the kids’ needs and aimed to improve their knowledge or skills in a specific area. Therefore, teachers should create supportive environments for exploring specific subjects.

  1. Intentional assessment

Well-thought-out curriculum decisions are impossible without assessing the specifics of children’s learning and their capabilities. Analyze your observations to track kids’ progress and make the necessary changes to the learning process. Your assessment shouldn’t necessarily be formal. Record your observations after interacting with kids or listening to them. Note their current understanding of a certain subject and determine what ideas and concepts are within their reach.

It’s also important to assess not only kids’ individual capabilities but also sources of knowledge available in their families, as well as their families’ culture, thinking of what skills might be easier to master for a certain child. You should also consider their overall wellbeing and determine what activities and habits can be beneficial for them.

  1. Intentional curriculum design

Intentional teaching also involves planning interactions related to children’s play. Teachers can integrate purposeful interactions into fun activities. If you’re going to adopt intentional curriculum design, you should plan what you’re going to say or do in each specific situation, as well as what environment will be most appropriate in this situation.

This way, you’ll be able to create meaningful experiences. For example, you can add elements of numeracy and literacy to the children’s regular fun activities. Therefore, intentional teaching activities for preschool can be especially beneficial, enabling teachers to make the learning process comprehensive without making it boring.

A very effective element of intentional teaching is questioning. You can reinforce learning goals by asking children how to achieve something that they want, how something works, or how to learn more about their favorite subject. You may also use analogies with family life and home to not only explain something but also learn more about the kids’ interests.

  1. Intentional pedagogies

You should understand how kids develop when interacting with different types of environments and choose contexts and strategies that can be useful in each particular situation. Introduce modeled play and integrate scripted elements into kids’ free play. For instance, you can initiate planned play, adding resources that will help you introduce important ideas or explain complex issues. You may also encourage roleplay and act as a guide.

Intentional teaching implies choosing pedagogies based on kids’ interests and experiences, along with clearly defined goals that are based on your assessment of their capabilities. You should engage in the learning process and add your experience and knowledge to it, without turning into the most active participant. Encourage co-creation and use organic interactions to align the learning process with the children’s imagination, interests, and intentions.

  1. Intentional evaluation

The intentional teaching approach should be used at every stage and in all aspects of the learning process. When creating intentional teaching cards, you can take into account your interactions with children and consider them in the context of the general learning goals. For example, you may notice that children have acquired some additional knowledge or developed new skills. Keep in mind that, no matter how effective your strategies are, a teacher’s efforts cannot always be successful so you need some patience.

Evaluation is an integral part of intentional teaching because the learning experience should be dynamic, and you must always adapt it to the kids’ needs and capabilities. Reflect on your observations and respond to them in a personalized way. You should always evaluate not only kids’ progress but also your interactions with them so that you can abandon practices that don’t bring the desired results and come up with new solutions.

Wrapping Up

In this article, we answered the question “What is intentional teaching?” and considered the key approaches used by intentional teachers to achieve the best results. If you’re looking for new teaching practices that can increase the effectiveness of the learning process while also making it more engaging, the concept of intentional teaching can provide you with many useful ideas. Teachers can be actively involved in the learning process and make sure that all activities in the classroom serve a specific purpose. The main thing is to consider children’s knowledge, needs, and interests, using this information to communicate more information.

New Teachers Are Getting Screwed

The most recent data show that 10% of new teachers quit rather than return for a second year of teaching. Over their first five years, 17% of new teachers leave. It’s a miracle that number is so low. It’s a testament to young teachers’ idealism, optimism, and dedication. America is extremely fortunate that most of them stick it out. It’s often said that teachers don’t go into education for the money. That teaching is about the outcome, not the income. It’s a damn good thing. Because our new teachers are getting screwed.

I started teaching in the fall of 2000. I couldn’t locate any pay stubs from that year, but I did find my 2001 W-2, which was the first fiscal year that I earned a full salary. As you can see, my gross pay was $30,358.

Below you will find the current salary schedule for the district where I started my career. This year, a first-year teacher is earning $32,981.

That’s an eight percent increase over 18 years.

Eight percent.

In 18 years.

Let’s put that in context.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation rose at a rate of 2.09% per year from 2000 to 2017. Prices this year are 42.2% higher than they were in 2000.  If new teacher pay in my old district had kept up with inflation, a first-year teacher would, in 2017, be making $43,108. They’d have 10,000 extra dollars in their pockets. But to make that much, a teacher in that district would need a master’s degree and five years of experience.

While new teacher pay has gone up a paltry eight percent,

Milk has risen 30% in the same span.

College costs are 148% more now than in 2000, which means that our new teachers are having to pay off college loans that are much larger than those teachers who started 18 years ago, but they have just 8% more dollars to do so.

Admission to sporting events is 87% higher.

Airfare is 16% more.

And if reading this makes you want to drown your sorrows, alcohol will cost you 40% more today than it did in 2000.

When young teachers say they have to work a second job, they’re not exaggerating or being dramatic. They aren’t looking for pity. They’re telling the truth. New teachers have been given a raw deal.

But It’s Worse Than That

If we can’t or won’t pay new teachers a reasonable income, we could at least make their sacrifice worth it. We could tell them, “Look, we know this sucks right now, but it’s going to get a lot better. If you stick it out for three years, you’ll see a significant bump in pay.” But if my former district is at all representative of other districts — and I have no reason to think it isn’t — then that’s not the case. After three years in that district, a teacher who has not earned a master’s degree will earn just $36,496.

We could offer them more security. We could tell them, “Hey, prove you can do the job for five years, and after that, we’ll mostly leave you alone. We’ll check in every once in a while to make sure you haven’t thrown in the towel, but if you have enough dedication to struggle through five extremely challenging and poorly compensated years, we’re going to trust that your heart is in the right place and that you know what you’re doing. No formal evaluation, no stupid effectiveness ratings. More trust and autonomy. That’s the prize at the end of the tunnel.”

But we don’t do that, either.

Instead, we subject new teachers to unfair evaluations that only exist because of the presumption of suckiness that pervades all of education. Never mind that these evaluations are based on cruddy data and subjective observations with no evidence of validity. Even if we had wonderful tools with which to measure teachers, we’d still be screwing our newest ones. Almost no teacher is adequately prepared to step into the classroom. You learn how to do this job on the job. But teacher evaluation systems don’t recognize this. They expect new teachers to be just as effective as ten-year veterans. They’re judged on the exact same criteria with the exact same scales. And if they’re not as good as someone who’s had ten or twenty years to hone their craft, well, too bad, so sad, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

And Then We Make It Worse

The job is extremely hard, and it’s harder for new teachers. Nearly everything is foreign. In addition to the challenges of leading their own classroom, they’re deluged with district policies, laws they never studied in college but with which they must comply, new technology they’re expected to use with little or no training, a curriculum they’ve never seen, abstruse health insurance plans, and the unwritten norms that are part of every organization.

On top of that, new teachers often feel or are made to feel like they have to prove themselves. In spite of the fact that they knowingly took an extremely demanding job for little pay, some administrators have the audacity to question their commitment. New teachers are encouraged to start before or after school clubs, to join committees, and to attend extra-curricular events, in order to demonstrate their dedication to a job that fewer and fewer college graduates even want.

We ought to be taking every step possible to keep these teachers in the classroom. Instead, we’re doing very little to prevent them from bolting. We take bright, enthusiastic young people who chose a career that pays them peanuts compared to what their college roommates will earn and we frustrate them, exhaust them, and exploit them.

If we don’t want to inject the public school system with more money so new teachers can earn a respectable salary that, at a minimum, keeps up with inflation, we can at least show some gratitude to the people who go into teaching and stick around long enough to make an impact, and eventually, a living. If you work with a young teacher, thank them for hanging in there.

And maybe buy them a drink. Lord knows they can’t afford to buy their own.

Other articles:

What’s Wrong With “Doing What’s Best for Kids”

Every Student An Athlete (ESAA)

Why You Shouldn’t Care About Your Teacher Evaluation

Teacher Exam Prep – 3 Tips to Pass the First Time

A guest post by Scott Rozell, Director of 240Tutoring, Inc.

In 2015, the state of Florida reported that on average, thirty percent of first-time exam takers failed their certification test. For some tests, the fail rate was as high as 48 percent. Many of these scores were from veteran teachers and administrators who with years of experience, still struggled to reach a passing score.

Texas educators are facing similar struggles. According to a KXAN investigative report, in 2015 there were over 200 Central Texas educators who had failed their certification exams at least five times. This is a big problem since many states, including Texas, have now put limits on exam retakes. Retaking exams can be not only costly, but also life changing. For some teachers, being unable to pass an exam means that after years invested in education both college and career wise, they will have to give up their teaching dreams and pursue other lines of work.

With so much at stake, it is very important to pass your exam the first time and preparation is the key. Following the three prep tips below will greatly raise your chances of snagging the score you need on your upcoming exam.

1. Never “Wing it”

Just wing it. Life, eyeliner, everything. Everything except your teaching exam. Contrary to popular belief, most of the questions on professional exams aren’t common sense questions that can be gained from experience in the field. Trying to pass an exam without review is a big mistake.
For example, most of the K-6 elementary education general certification exams include questions about phonemes and diphthongs. Kindergarten and first grade teachers might breeze through these questions while teachers of upper grades who teach students to “read to learn”, not phonics, might be stumped.

Thankfully, most testing companies will provide students with a list of the focus areas/skills assessed on the test, as well as example questions. You can use this guide to plan out a study schedule and hone in on the most important information to review. Even if you can’t study all the concepts covered by the exam, some planned studying is better than none.

2. Considering Cramming? -Don’t

No preparation at all is the worst test prep mistake you can make, but cramming comes in a close second. For decades, research has shown that cramming simply doesn’t work. Although you might be able to recognize some of the information after a cram session, this type of studying won’t help you on a teacher exam. This is because most teacher prep exams don’t assess recall skills. Instead, they ask you to solve problems, explain a concept in your own words, or give examples of what you would do in a specific scenario or situation.

It will take more than an all-nighter to familiarize yourself with the many types of questions that will be included on your test and feel confident enough to answer higher-order questions. So instead of cramming, pace yourself! If you have three hours’ worth of studying to do, it is better to sit down for three separate one-hour sessions than to study for three hours straight. Taking breaks in between will help you commit the information to memory.

3. Use Study Materials

Because taking a teacher exam can be expensive, many test takers don’t want to spend extra money on test prep materials. But taking the test without going over useful materials beforehand greatly increases your chance of having to pay for the test again. Useful is a key word here, because all prep materials are not the same. Many test takers erroneously believe that they can research the material themselves using the test breakdown, but this is a time-consuming and error-prone method.

Professionally developed test preparation materials are worth the initial cost because they include not only content, but test questions that are crafted after the ones that will be on your exam. For example, the EC-12 Pedagogy and Professional responsibilities is a 100-question exam that covers four different domains and thirteen competencies. A comprehensive EC-12 study-guide makes studying much easier because it breaks down each section and provides practice questions for each skill.

No matter what test you’re planning to take, passing the first time is as easy as one, two, three. Prepare a study plan, schedule your study time, and get professional help, or at least a study guide.


Author Bio
Scott Rozell is the Director of 240Tutoring, Inc. is the premiere provider of teacher study guides and has helped over ten thousand teachers pass their certification exam and get into the classroom.Nationwide, teachers are failing their certification exams at alarming rates. That may sound ironic since helping children pass assessments is a big part of teaching. But having to retake a teacher certification test is more common than one might think.


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