Teaching With Intention Book Study - Chapters 1 & 2

Welcome to the first day of the book study! Today we will be chatting about chapters of 1 and 2 of Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller.

To start at the beginning of this book study with me:
If you are interested in getting college credit from Concordia University for joining this book study, you can get all the details here. It costs $127 and you can join in just by following along and sharing your thoughts in the comments. At the end of the book study, you will have to complete a written assignment summarizing what you learned and how you will apply it.  

Do not forget to make your Book Study Journal! This will come in handy when you go to write your culminating summary!


Chapters 1 & 2

In the introduction, Debbie gives us some insight into her life as she transitioned from a classroom teacher to a consultant. She talks about how her favorite part of the day was after school when she would turn down the lights, shut the doors (probably to ignore chatty co-workers!), and reflect on the day. That's my favorite part of the day, too! When my room is quiet and calm. I can think and make decisions. In the morning, my mind is still asleep. I have a hard time getting going in the morning. So after school is my time to plan, assess, clean, and just be. I can look around the room and reflect on the learning that took place that day. My classroom is my sanctuary.
"I'm convinced that success in the classroom depends less on which beliefs we hold and more on simply having a set of beliefs that guides us in our day-to-day work with children. Once we know who we are and what we believe in the classroom, we become intentional in our teaching, we do what we do on purpose, with good reason. Intentional teachers are thoughtful, reflective people who are conscious of the decisions they make and the actions they take, they live and teach by the principles and practices they believe in and value. " ~ Debbie Miller, page 4
So why read this book? Why do this book study? I've been teaching for 10 years now and I have systems and routines that work for me. When I really thought about my classroom philosophy, I realized I wrote that paper in grad school and my interview response is riddled with buzzwords. I had not actually sat down and written down my current beliefs and values.

"We're professionals, we need to make full use of our professional autonomy." In other words, by studying what the research says and pin-pointing our values ​​and forming opinions about what we believe as teachers, we can engage in academic conversations with colleagues and administration. Many times, we have to prove that we know what we are talking about in order to be taken seriously.

My state adopted a basal reading series program that all schools have to purchase and implement by school year 2015/2016. It's scripted. We all know that the best teaching does not come from the script. Teaching straight from the basal is certainly easier, but is it what all of our kids need? No. Some, yes. But all? Absolutely not. By explicitly exploring our beliefs and values ​​as educators, we can show those in charge that we are professionals and we can be trusted to make good curricular decisions for our students.

On to the discussion questions. Make sure to download the printables above for your journal so you can take notes as you read. I'm going to answer the questions for myself and share my thinking from my journal. Please tell me your thoughts and responses in the comments!

My ideal classroom has soft lighting. There are coordinated colors on baskets, bulletin boards, and other decor. It is organized with minimal clutter. You can tell that the spaces in the room are set-up for the students to use and have access to materials. The library is large and open with a wide range of books in different genres and levels. There is evidence of learning in terms of student writing, artwork, anchor charts, and poetry posted around the room.

I am a huge fan of children sitting at tables in heterogeneous groups and collaborating together. I also like using workshop models where students are working independently so that the teacher can meet one-on-one and with small groups to work on skills. My ideal room would facilitate this kind of small group work.

I want someone to feel calm and invited as the walk in my room. I want it to be obvious that kids are learning and working hard. I want them to see the rigor of the work, but also the fun and creativity of the students.

 I agree with all of Debbie's beliefs about education. 
  • Organized, purposeful, and authentic environment - check!
  •  Choose your words carefully as they affect the children - check!
  • Create engaging lessons - check!
  • Teach workshops with a model and foster independence - check!
  • Use assessment to guide your instruction - check!
  • Utilize student choice - check!
  •  The few I would add:
    • Make decisions based on what is best for children, not what is easiest for adults.
    • Every child deserves an exquisite education

  • What I already do:
    • Use a workshop model for Daily 5, Writing, and Math
    • Have an organized classroom
    • Plan engaging lessons
    • Create small groups in reading and math based on assessment results
    • Integrate student choice whenever possible
  • What I can do better:
    •  Research math workshop models on Pinterest and fine-tune my routines.  Search and read blogs who I know teach with a math workshop model, like Reagan Tunstall.
    • Add more student work and less teacher-store posters.  Or replace with student-made ones after we learn the concept.
    • Choose my words carefully and practice patience.
    •  Integrate tech for more student engagement and motivation.
    • Create a better system for recording formative assessment and teacher observations. Create a conferring notebook and actually use it.

Introduce with manipulatives, pictures, and/or technology.   Read primary source and teacher-written articles.  Have cooperative discussions (pair-share, teach-ok, group-share), practice with partners, and independent practice.

When I make decisions in my classroom, I always think, "Is this what's best for my kids?"  I am a big proponent of decision-making based on what's best for kids, not what's easiest for adults.   I feel that a lot of what's wrong in education is because the adults in charge do not always have the students' best interests in their forethought.   We are in business to educate children.   Our decisions should reflect that. 

Class discussions, evidence of application of concepts in their assignments, interactive notebooks, and assessments.

Pull small groups for re-teaching, whole-class practices in math - keep those centers out a bit longer independent, re-read articles or reviews interactive notebooks, students teach each other through the teach / ok.


  1. Do you know when we have to have the credit paid for? I need to take it for credit but don't get paid until next week.

    1. Hi Brandy!

      You can go to http://gradcredits.com/ under Completion Requirements you will find the details of all the requirements. There is also a contact form there where you can submit specific questions.

      Thanks for join joining the book study!

  2. I have a question regarding the grad credit for this books study. When is the credit awarded? I am trying to figure out whether this credit would be applied before the beginning of August if I submit all of the required essays or if it will not be credited until December when the course closes. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Doni!

      You can go to http://gradcredits.com/ under Completion Requirements you will find the details of all the requirements. There is also a contact form there where you can submit specific questions.

      Thanks for join joining the book study!

  3. Hi Nicole! Looks awesome and I can't wait to join in. You are so organized and I love the journal you made! I have a question about the grad credit too... in order to get credit in my district it has to be an accredited university that sends a transcript or record of a grade. Do you know if they do this, or when it would post? Thanks so much!

    Sprinkled in Second

    1. Hi Kristen,

      You can go to http://gradcredits.com/ under Completion Requirements you will find the details of all the requirements. There is also a contact form there where you can submit specific questions.

      Thanks for joining the book study!

  4. The beliefs that you added are excellent. I think students deserve to have a safe place to learn and feel that they express their ideas without fear. I also feel that everyone deserves a chance to learn without other students causing disruption. I have had several years in a row where one disruptive student severely takes away learning time from the other 20+ students. Any ideas how to deal with this when the principal won't?

    I do use daily 5, but definitely want to do more of it. I really want learn how to incorporate a workshop model for math this year. I am great at being flexible and using teachable moments, but I want to be more consistent with planning out my reading workshop. I want to be better at reteaching mat concepts. I think using a workshop model will help. I also want to worry more about authentic lessons and focus less on testing, if that's possible. It's easy to get into doing what's easy in one subject while trying to learn new curriculum in other subjects. I want to teach with intention! This book is perfect for me.

  5. I could see my ideal classroom as I was reading how you described yours! I lobe having bright colors in my classroom but I just want to have them as a pop of color so they don't overwhelm. I have a hard time dealing with a lot of clutter so I have a place for everything- sometimes I'm so organized, I forget where I put something...never good!

    I also like having students work in table groups. For my instruction this year I want to try out the workshop models for both reading and math. I also participated in the Daily 5 2nd edition book study and am excited to implement a version (as best as I can do) of the Daily 5 in my room this year. I also love reading about Reagan's Guided Math Workshop and am going to try to implement this as well. I am really looking for a way to find more time to pull small groups and I think these workshop models will allow me to do that and make better use of my time and my student's time!

  6. My ideal classroom has big, open spaces. The room has calm lighting with little clutter. There are lots for small nooks and spaces designed especially for reading and writing. Materials are organized, so that all students can access them.