Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Day 17- October- Back to Work on a Wednesday

Though I wasn't feeling 100% and it was a rainy day, I was happy to get back to school today, and I think my kids were equally happy to see me. The last couple of days seemed pretty uneventful in the capable hands of my sub, and with the work I had left behind. The sub's and students reports were positive and no one had anything they wanted to tell me as I asked them one by one. Everyone seemed pretty happy, even Student A, and so I'll take it. Student B had a medical issue and hadn't been in school all week and won't be back until after Thanksgiving. It made for a quieter days and that continued today.

After Oh Canada, but before we meditated and began our day, it was time to make a new seating arrangement. A month has passed and the seats they had chosen had been their first choice in the classroom, with a new month it was time to choose new spots.

Student A chose to remain in his current space, which suits him well, as did my other student with visual impairments, as she and her EA (Educational Assistant) are best situated by the door. Everyone else spread out around the room, and closing my eyes, I randomly choose names and student after student picked a new spot to sit. I had encouraged them to sit in a different part of the room, so they would gain a new perspective, and challenged them to sit beside different people so they could get to know new people, and most importantly to choose a place in which they felt they could be successful in their learning. I told them how much appreciated the fact that they had already demonstrated their ability to do this, which is why I could let them pick their spots again today, and I didn't have to make up a seated plan- one of my most dreaded tasks and something I have been lucky that I haven't had to do in years.

With the instructions, everyone moved quickly and easily found new spots. It was pretty seamless and I was grateful, because I have to trust the process, but I can never be certain it will go well, and today, thankfully, it did. Everyone then settled into their new seats as we prepared to do our first October meditation. I told them it was going to be different but the same.

It was the same in that it started with music, lights, the same grounding and prompts, and the inhale, 2, 3,4 to start. It would also be the same in the sense that the only way to do it wrong is to bother someone else. Then I explained that after the breath count, we would move to our natural rhythm of breathing, and while bringing our focus to each inhale and each exhale, we would start to work with our breath to foster and grow the qualities we need with each inhale, and let go of, get rid of the blocks that get in our way with each exhale.

I used the example of growing focus, while getting rid of distraction, explaining that as they bring their attention to their inhale, they picture the focus they need to do whatever needs to be done, listening, a writing assignment, Math questions. As they exhale, they imagine the opposite quality, distraction, leaving them. I described distraction as being external- friends around them, people walking by or others working on computers- or internal- the thoughts in our heads that tell us the task is too hard, too boring, that we just don't care. I reminded them these are the things we often tell ourselves when we want to give up, and as we keep practicing meditation, we get better at noticing these thoughts and getting past them. I also quickly explained there are many qualities we can grow through meditation and that as we kept practicing, we will keep exploring different qualities as we need them.

Finally I told them the other big difference was it would go a little longer, about a minute to start. I told them I wouldn't be talking for the whole time and once I did the introduction, I would join in the silent meditation. I reminded them that they didn't have to worry about when it would be over, which is natural while meditating, that I would let them know when we were done, and until then they could enjoy.

And then we did. Rearranging the seats and the new explanation had taken about 15-20 minutes and when I turned off the lights and started the music, every was ready. Today, every head went down and stayed down. I guess they were glad I was back, or they really need the rest.

I led them through the connection with Treaty 1 land, settling the body, 4 or so inhale, 2, 3, 4 counts and then through following the rhythm of their own breath, breathing naturally, but deeply and fully, filling their lungs on the inhale and emptying them on the exhale. Then I led them to the idea of focus, with each inhale imaging their focus growing as they saw themselves completing the assignment we had ahead. With each exhale, I guided them to imagine the distractions leaving them.

Then I told them to keep following their breath, and wherever they were at, to take a moment to enjoy the silence. And they did, And so did I. I closed my eyes and took a few long deep breaths. I briefly wondered if anyone had moved, lifted their heads, but there was no noise, and I wasn't that curious. I was too busy enjoying the silence.

It ended quickly, and the 5 minute and 27 second track seemed shorter than the 4 and a half minute track I had used throughout September. It was a lovely meditation and a wonderful start to October and our morning. As soon as we were done everybody got to work, and Student A drew intricate mazes on the whiteboard, which I am hoping he will put on paper so we can all do them.

I saw my switch class right after lunch today and the afternoon pretty much replicated the morning. We started by rearranging the seat as I had earlier. Though a few students in the class were willing to take big risks and sit in different areas in the room, away from their friends, this class also required a little more attention and involvement in the seating. There are more players who are better off separated, but not necessarily at the expense of those who work well together.

I think the process was a bit more anxiety invoking for my switch class as well. There were a few pockets where students were clearly concerned about sitting with their friends. So I did some minor interjecting, but left it mostly to them and to chance, and thankfully it worked out really well. I think in the end, I separated some of the chattier girls and more restless boys, leaving them better supported. At least I think so today- tomorrow could be very different.

But for today, it was a very good change and it lead to a very peaceful meditation. I introduced the change in process pretty much as I had earlier that morning and like the morning the time went very quickly.

One of the more restless students had moved to the other side of the room beside the boy who has been sitting up straight and following the breath count, and so today he did that too, I am hoping that will continue. None of my readers we reading, and my doodler put his pencils away and put his hoodie over his head before putting his head down as we started. Student 1 had the toughest time. He fiddled with his hoodie and had his ruler positioned in the hood in a variety of manners, until it finally fell to the floor and he was shh'ed by me and the EA. Then he managed to settle a bit.

Everyone else was quiet and still and I did manage to close my eyes for a few deep breaths and join in the silence at the end, which went undisturbed. It was a wonderful minute and the start of a good afternoon.

I am really happy to be in October and at the point where we can continue to develop and expand our meditations in time and in depth. It will be interesting to see where it goes tomorrow.

In my chapter, I outline more about linking breath to the qualities we wish to foster and grow, in the sections "We Are What We Breathe," "Building Confidence," and "Finding What You Need." Here is the link:

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