One of the most rewarding feelings in my life as a middle school teacher is when former students come back to visit, both because they want to see me and because I get to see how they are growing and changing. While I often joke that they like me a lot more when I am no longer their teacher, I feel honoured and grateful when they make a point of coming to visit, coming to see me and their old classroom, and especially coming to meditate.
This typically happens a lot early in the year with my former 8's, as they transition to high school and have late starts on Wednesdays for the first time. As they become more comfortable in their new surroundings their visits taper off, especially as the walk gets colder too, but in the beginning of the year they come to visit, something I had forgotten until I walked into school this morning.
As I arrived in my classroom there were 7 or 8 of my former students waiting to say hello. Last year 3 of us co-taught our Social Studies classes, so between that and mixing all the grade 8 classes for Exploratory, I had connected with many students, and those who came to visit were from a bunch of different classes. After we chatted and I started getting organized for the day, a few more groups of 3 or 4 students came by my room to say hello.
Beyond wanting to tell me about their summers, high school and hear about my new classes, they also wanted to know if they could come and meditate with my class. As groups of students came by they kept asking if they could stay to meditate and I kept saying, "As long as you can meditate and not disrupt."
Just before 9:00 a.m they all came back. They filed in around the room, taking all the extra chairs, the chair at my desk, one or two on the floor and the rest perching on the tables around the periphery of the classroom, surrounding my somewhat shocked grade 7 who sat in their usual seats. There were 15 of them in all.
As we took care of the morning tasks, I explained to my 7's that in 2 years this would be them and I would welcome them back and invite them to join us while we meditated as well. Then as we got ready to meditate, I took the opportunity to remind the 9's about their need to be respectful and let them know that my current meditators were stronger than they had been. They thought I was kidding, but I let them know I wasn't and how impressed I was with my 7's, especially with their posture and focus on breath.
Then we started the meditation as we have for the past five days, and as I did with my former 9's, many through grades 7 and 8, so many times, and with which they are so familiar, already missing, and sadly will get used to missing to the point of forgetting, but for today got to enjoy.
The 4 minutes and 38 seconds went quickly. Student A happened to be away, which made for an easier day all around. Student B had the hardest time keeping it together and was a little giggly. I spent the majority of the time standing in his proximity, which again proved helpful; he didn't need further interventions to keep it together. The rest of the 7's sat up straight as they have been, and the 9's didn't have a choice. It was really lovely and powerful. At one point I looked around and I couldn't quite believe all these kids had come back to see me and meditate, when they could have been doing pretty much anything else, including sleeping in. It made clear to me something I have known for many years, they show me how they value meditation by how much they miss it when it is gone.
Once we were done, the 9's left and went on with their day and we went on with ours. We did some amazing sharing of our name presentations and then the day went on.
Again today I saw my switch class in 4th period, right after gym and before lunch. The meditation was much less eventful with no extra visitors and no distractions. It too was lovely. I again stressed the posturing, hinging at the hips and straightening the back, even with the head down and then we continued. There was nowhere in particular I had to stand and in the end 4 minutes and 38 is pretty short. The time always goes by quickly. Which I guess could also be said of the days, and the weeks, in the end. Though busy and full, the days go by very quickly, which makes those 4 minutes and 38 seconds of breath all the more meaningful.