Setting My Intentions

Topic Progress:

I often get asked questions about Story Workshop that lead me to answer, “It depends.” Although I’m pretty sure that many people get frustrated with this response, it really is true. Because Story Workshop is a structure based on listening and relationships, there is really no “one-size-fits-all” answer to any situation. Each interaction with each individual will depend on many things, including my intentions for the group, for that individual, my relationship with that individual, and more.

I think one of the reasons we share our stories, though, is to imagine new possibilities that we may not have considered before. I may respond to the same question in two completely different ways based on the situation, and you may respond in a wide range of ways. Considering those different possibilities opens the door to more possibilities the next time we encounter a similar question.

Within each piece of the structure of Story Workshop, there are an endless amount of decisions to be made. As with many parts of teaching, I think it can be easy to feel lost or overwhelmed. I think this is one reason why it is so important to set our intentions. Setting intentions helps us to know what to pay attention to and why and will hopefully support us to feel less overwhelmed as we begin preparing for Story Workshop. Some of the things that influence my thinking as I set intentions will include the values of the school, the expectations for students both at a local and national level, the assessments I will be using, my teacher-research questions, and my beliefs and values.  One year, on our first week back to school, our entire staff spent time cracking open the idea of “invention education” – and I knew then that I would be adding that as a layer to what I was paying attention to as I set my intentions for Story Workshop that particular year.

I’d like to invite you to explore some of the resources that are influencing me as I’m setting my own intentions for Story Workshop. Included in these resources are documents from Opal School both about values and about expectations for students, the expectations for the students I teach from the national government, and assessments that guide how I am expected to evaluate student learning and share with families. I’m not sharing these with you because I think they should guide your own intentions, but I’m hoping that if I can help you understand where some of my intentions come from then it will be easier to examine the resources that might guide and influence your own intentions as you work to articulate them throughout this Module.


Here are some of the resources that influence me as I set intentions for Story Workshop each year:

First Steps Developmental Writing Continuum (This document, put out by the Government of Western Australia, is what Opal School uses as one piece of our assessment for writing)

Opal School’s Goals and Expectations for Students,

Opal School’s Values and Guiding Principles

Common Core Standards

Habits of Mind  (Costa and Kallick’s list of what intelligent people do when faced with problems without a clear solution)

Mind in the Making (Derived from her meta-analysis of human development research, this is Ellen Galinsky’s list of the “seven essential life skills”)


As you explore these resources, take notes about what stands out to you, what connects to the work you are already doing, and what questions you have.

Course Discussion