I love how preparing for professional learning always puts me in the seat of the learner, requiring me to process my thinking, challenge my own assumptions, and grow in my understanding of each piece before feeling ready to facilitate the learning of others.
I often have three separate sets of “aha” moments:
- During the preparation and design phase.
- In the midst of facilitation, spurred by the questions and reflections of participants and my co-presenters.
- In reflecting on the process and changes I would make to the learning experience.
I have recently experienced a new brand of “aha” moment, as I had the opportunity to be both a designer and a participant in a workshop about Professional Learning Communities.
While participating in an activity that I co-designed and created materials for, I felt like I read a sentence for the first time in my life.
The first sentence of PLC Big Idea #3: We assess our effectiveness on the basis of results rather than intentions.
How could I have put it on a slide-deck, created activity cards, talked through the quote’s facilitation and not really applied it beyond the scope of the PLC process or collaborative teams? I am really not sure. What I do know is as I stood in my triad discussing what each big idea would “look like” or “sound like” in a school setting, I was flooded with the realization that some of my own intentions have not produced the anticipated results.
This sent me down a road of revisiting and rethinking intentions.
At The End Of The Day, I’m At Peace Because My Intentions Were Good And My Heart Was Pure –Anonymous
There are a myriad of quotes and articles and talks that mirror the quote above, and that speak to the necessity of starting with your heart focused in the right direction and trusting that from that intention good things will follow. I believe this…I believe that what you mean to do matters. That the motivation behind the actions is sometimes as important as the action.
Great intentions become tragic action when delivered without careful thought. –Michael Dooley
Remember, people will judge you by your actions not your intentions.
Reflecting on the areas of my practice and work that are not yielding positive or meaningful results led me to an evaluation of my intentions for those projects, relationships, and strategies. My heart is set in the right direction. My intentions are good…and I have taken action. The lack of results is not from a lack of intention or effort, but there is a disconnect at times between the planned and the product.
Where I am now:
Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.
-William A. Foster
I should have been able to predict that this learning rabbit hole would bring me to thinking about cycles, growth, and continuous improvement. It should have been an easy prediction, as it was literally written on the back of the card that spurred the thinking to begin with.
Part 2 of Big Idea #3: Individuals, teams, and schools seek relevant data and information and us that information to promote continuous improvement.
In my learning I found this short essay by Paulo Coelho, and am thankful for his invitation to share his words:
The bow, the arrow and the target
The arrow is your intention. It is what joins the strength of the bow to the center of the target.
Our intentions have to be crystal-clear, straight and well balanced.
Once it leaves, it will not return, so it is better to interrupt a process – because the movements that led up to it were not precise and correct – than to act in any way just because the bow was already taut and the target already waiting.
But never fail to show your intention if the only thing that paralyzes you is the fear of making a mistake. If you perform the right movements, open your hand and release the string, take the necessary steps and face your challenges. Even if you do not hit the target, you will know how to correct your aim the next time.
If you do not take risks, you will never know the changes that needed to be made.
I am going to check the quality and strength of my intentions, and then reevaluate my strategies and actions before letting those intentions fly unprepared towards an undefined target. I am going to hold myself accountable to results and not intentions. I am going to put this thinking in the driver’s seat and reset my goals, not to perfection, but continuous improvement. And we will see where this arrow lands…