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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.