- What's your essential intent?
What's your essential intent?
Keeping the main thing, the main thing, through clarity and focus
This is Hasan
I first came across Hasan during my tour of UK schools last year.
Each student at Dixons takes the time to create these vision statements. The students describe themselves in the past tense, as if reflecting upon the person that they’ve become. The goal is to provide a clear vision of the future that students can work towards.
Gaining clarity around our intent can be an excellent way to stay focussed. When I was in my final year of schooling myself, I had a little prayer that I said every morning.
It was the first thing I thought about every morning as I recited it to myself. It helped me to remember my target score for the year, and to stay focussed throughout the day, keeping the main thing the main thing. It worked!
In his book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown talks about a related idea, what he calls an ‘essential intent’. An essential intent is kind of like a conscious constraint, but one that applies to not just your learning projects, but your whole life. It helps us to manage the fundamental challenge of scarcity and provides a roadmap for getting better on purpose.
McKeown describes an essential intent as follows:
He provides a few examples:
‘To get everyone in the U.K. online by the end of 2012.’ ← Essential intent of Martha Land Fox, the UK’s first ‘Digital Champion’
‘To build 150 affordable, green, storm-resistant homes for families living in the Lower 9th ward’ ←Essential intent of Brad Pitt’s Make it Right foundation, in response to Hurricane Katrina
Further, McKeown offers two guiding questions that help us to create an essential intent for ourselves:
If I could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be? - This answer will help inspire your actions.
How will I know when I'm done? - This answer will help you develop the concrete steps necessary to accomplish your essential intent.
I haven’t had an essential intent myself for several years. This is no doubt to my detriment, I often find it hard to prioritise between different exciting projects, there are just so many great opportunities and so little time.
I’m currently drafting my own essential intent. Following McKeowns advice, I’m trying to get increased clarity on my vision for my own personal impact, something that can guide my focus, something that I hope to be able to share soon!
In the meantime, what’s your essential intent? A great focus could be the grades or learning growth you hope your students attain this year. What about your students themselves, do they have an essential intent? Do they wake up each morning with the goal to keep the main thing the main thing, and service of a larger vision of positive contribution?
We can all take something from Hasan’s example. Why not get out a notebook this weekend and have a think about what you’re keen to concretely achieve in the next few years…?
Events and Opportunities
Think Forward Educators is launching their secondary network with a free event on Tues July 25th. Check it out here.
Other threads to pull on
Members of the SOLAR Lab (La Trobe University, School of Education) are seeking teachers, educators, allied health professionals and school leaders who are currently working in an Australian primary school, to participate in an online survey. You're eligible if you have been or are currently working towards a transformation of reading and spelling instructional practices that align with the Science of Reading. Complete the survey here.
I've always wondered (from cog load theory) whether having my face in the bottom corner of videos is distracting for viewers. A new study suggests that having a 'talking head' included in the video doesn't necessarily have a negative learning effect.
Here’s a recent Twitter Thread that I shared on how to turn a curriculum standard into an Explicit Direct Instruction Learning Objective. This came from the Patreon summary of my ERRR episode with John Hollingsworth : )