Day 2 is my best day and when it falls on a Friday it is even better. I was at the university last week, because, of course, that fell on Day 2, and the next two Day 2s fall on the High Holy Days, so my substitute will benefit from the relaxed flow of the day, so today I was especially happy that it was Day 2 and that it was Friday.
It was my first Day 2 with my students and what I realized was, that though it was indeed relaxed, it is going to be an even weirder than Day 3. I really didn't see my students much at all. The day began with Band/Exploratory and then went into choir. This is an optional class, but over half of my students participate. Those who remained passed the period playing board games, reading or drawing as they chose. Jenga was a popular choice, with 3 different matches happening at one point, and Students A and B managed to join in the games, without annoying each other or anybody else. It was a nice way to start the morning.
After break, my class went to Math and my switch class joined me for ELA- English Language Arts. After our meditation, they too would have time to finish their Six Word Memoirs, which we will share next week. Before we got to work, I introduced Peace Days and reminded them about METTA meditations. Three girls sat together at a table meant for two and were a little chatty as I was beginning, so I challenged them to show me they could handle the configuration, or else I would ask one of them to move to one of the empty spots. I also told them that would be their only warning and it was all they needed. I didn't have to talk to them again at all.
I went over much of what I said yesterday, with an emphasis on the idea that by focusing on compassion, caring and positive emotions and thinking of others, we can increase our level of compassion and grow our positive emotions. As we prepared to begin, I also reminded them of the disruption movement brings, even if it is not actual noise. I demonstrated how fidgeting with a bottle or binder, flipping pencils and other subtle movements can actually be quite obvious, especially during meditation. I reminded them that they were more important than anything they had to do, and challenged them to put everything away, especially the boys who had been working on their pieces from the moment they sat down. When it was clear they were going to remain focused on their drawings, I told them I didn't mind as long as they chose one pencil and didn't fidget and make noise choosing pencils. Then I started the music and turned off the lights, and everyone else settled into the meditation,
Most of the students put their heads down. A few were sitting straight, eyes closed, and a couple were sitting straight with their eyes open. Neither were calling attention to themselves, nor did they seem to be looking anywhere in particular, for the most part- they were just sort of looking around. At one point, on of the girls became, or caused, a silent distraction with the girl beside her, but moving to their proximity and eye contact stopped it from escalating.
At one point, I noticed one of the boys who had kept his eyes open watching me very closely. When I saw him looking at me, and we made eye contact, I just smiled at him, but I really couldn't read his big eyes or intentions. I was uncertain whether he wanted attention, was very curious, or is just very accustomed to following his teachers' moves, which he does in class, as well as actively participating. At some point I am sure I will ask him, especially if it continues, as it is certainly interesting to me and I would love to know what he was thinking.
The meditation, though longer than usual, went quickly, as it generally does. The minute of silent gratitude began more or less at the same time as it did yesterday and with this class I was more concerned someone would break the complete silence between track, as more students were alert, seemingly more anxious for it to be over. They did a good job remembering I had told them I would let them know in advance when it was done, and though their awkwardness was palpable, my smiles must have helped a little, because they didn't disrupt the silence or take away from anyone else's experience.
Like yesterday, when we finished I mentioned the same information about the brain, the benefits and our ability to affect our brain's development and grow compassion, as I did yesterday. This class was less engaged in discussion and questions, but still respectful and interested as they listened. It didn't take long, and then we were off to work.
Then a funny thing happened in the afternoon. I completely forgot we hadn't meditated that day. I did what I did as a natural part of what I do, and only remembered we didn't do a formal meditation when I was chatting with my mom about writing this blog after school. Though I technically forgot, meditation is a natural part of what I do, and the mini-meditation, which came as a spontaneous and intrinsic part of my teaching, seemed to do the trick. It is weird to me that I forgot, yet at the same time not surprising at all, and something I will have to note for future Day 2s. But for today, it all worked and I am grateful.
Right after lunch, we had prep time as our students went to TAA, Technology and Applied Arts, after which we ended the day with our joint library time, through which we plan to foster independent work time, access to computers, academic choice and self regulation. After debating how we would use the time, and whether both classes could be in the library together- it's big, but not that big- and successfully get work done on a Friday afternoon, we decided we would set the expectations we want to achieve and give them the opportunity to reach them. Mr. Y needed to talk to his class for a few minutes and so I brought my class in first and his joined us a short time later.
As I got my class settled in the library, I told them what we expected during our the time there- that they had the choice to work on anything they wanted as long as they are working on something. I outlined their choices on the board by priority of due dates, the memoirs and Science due on Monday if they hadn't finished in class, their ongoing novel studies, Math and some options for Math computer games- plenty to choose from. At this point in the afternoon I had still completely forgotten that we hadn't seen each other to meditate that day and told them we weren't going to do a full meditation. Instead I told them we would just take a moment, and suggested they get comfortable in their chairs and close their eyes. Then we took a few deep breaths and I told them to visualize their choices- to set a plan in their heads and imagine their actions and carrying them out. Then we took a few more deep breaths, all in all maybe 2 minutes, and we got to work.
Before we had begun, I gave them advance warning that I was going to give them some information, they would get to work, and when Mr. Y's class came in I was going to stop their work, give both classes more information that both classes needed but I didn't want to repeat, and then they would have to get back to the flow of their work. When that happened about 10 minutes later, my class was able to come back, listen to the information- most new, with a little repetition- and then go back to work again. Student A got some computer time, played some Math games, some other games and didn't bother anyone else. Student B was "reading" on the beanbag chairs with a couple of his friends. Whether they actually read 1 page or 10, they interacted appropriately, didn't call attention or get in trouble, and hopefully felt good about themselves and their learning. Everyone else was engaged in a variety of work and activities, from working out Math problems on the whiteboard, to finishing homework, while I got a bunch of students set up on Edmodo, which I tell kids is Facebook for school. It was a very successful and productive couple of periods in our library.
It was a really wonderful way to end the week. It is especially rewarding to see some of the routines become routine and expectations being met, at least most of the time. Even though it could all go out the window again on Monday, I am grateful for this Friday, this day 2 and especially this weekend to come.
I hope you all enjoy too. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe.