Thursday, October 6, 2016

Day 18- Thursday in the Fall

Today was Day 5 and as I told my students first thing this morning, it is the only Day 5 in October that we will be in the building, as we have field trips on our next two day 5's. It made our bus evacuation drills this morning even more important. I just wish I'd known when they would be in advance, as I would have planned accordingly. Such is life in middle school, and as usual, my students took everything in stride.

We switched classes first thing in the morning and everyone got settled pretty quickly, and after a brief reminder of the day ahead, we got ready to meditate. I took a few moments to demonstrate how we could use our breath to grow the quality we need while inhaling, and getting rid of the opposite trait that gets in our way while exhaling. I suggested that in the morning they might be feeling very tired and so they could breathe in energy and exhale the tiredness and fatigue, and as I did I stood there, closed my eyes, took a full, deep inhale, and then a full deep exhale. The room was quiet while I did, and as I went on to demonstrate other qualities, positivity/negativity, patience/impatience and focus/distraction, with full deep breaths. Then we began the meditation.

Of course, if I had known what was about to ensue I would have waited until later, but I didn't, and so we began. Everyone was really quiet, the boy who usually sits tall did, as did his new seatmate, and pretty much everyone else put their heads down, even the fidgety kids. It was really quiet in the room, as is becoming routine for my switch class. About 30 to 45 seconds or so into our 5 minute and 44 second track, the noise in the hallway began.

The kids in the room across the hall were moving around and there were adults talking in the hallway. Though a little unusual, this is not entirely out of the ordinary, and sometimes I think noise in the hall helps the room stay quieter, as was the case today. A few heads looked up and around with the noise, but then went back down. No one was disturbed.

I finished the breath count and moved into finding what we need, inhale focus and exhaling distraction. By that time, a minute and a half or two minutes later the rooms across the hall were empty and the hall was quiet. I figured the noise had passed and I continued.

But the peace didn't last, and within another 30 seconds, there was noise coming from the room next door and I realized they were calling our classes down for Bus Evacuation drills. As the acting administrator came knocking on my door, but before he could come barreling in- I guess he didn't notice the dimmed lights or quiet in the room- I headed him off and quietly told him that we would be out as soon as our meditation was done, in about 2 minutes.

Then I reassured a few curious faces not to worry and to stay with their breath, and gave a quick reminder to two girls that this was not the time to open a hair studio, as they had started playing with each other's hair, and then we went back to the silence. As before, the majority were undisturbed and I soon joined them for a silent moment before we ended the meditation.

We couldn't leisurely take our time coming out of it, as just as we were ending the acting admin came back again to call us to bus evacuation and we were on our way. When we got back to the classroom 10 minutes later or so, I took the time to talk about the meditation, again relating it to the power we have and don't have. Today, I told them I had the power to let our meditation continue for the 2 minutes we needed, but that they made it possible because they kept it going. They had maintained the power. I acknowledged how easily it is to get distracted by things, like hair, but that we need to be sure we are not giving away our power, especially when so much of the world wants to take it from us. Then we got to work, or our school work anyway, because the rest is surely work too, likely the most important work we do together.

After break I saw my class for LA and with Student B back everyone was there. As students started settling during the break, Student A was trying to take the binders from the boys sitting next to him. I knew it was because he likes to use his binder as a pillow during meditations, and I asked him where his binder was, as I simultaneously told him to let go of the other boys' binders.  He said he didn't know where his binder was- not the first time it has gone missing- as he walked out of the room, supposedly to go look for it. I took a quick look around the room and when I didn't see it, I took a big text book and a folded up shirt and put it on his desk for him to lay his head. I hoped that would be enough.

He came back to the room as break ended and we were about to begin. I pointed out the pillow I had fashioned and he sat down at his seat and didn't bother anyone else anymore. I guess he appreciated the effort.

After the start to the morning, I was a little impatient and my introduction to the meditation was brief. I realized how brief when Student B, who had been away all week, asked what he had to do during this new meditation. I wanted to start, and there is a part of me that is pretty sure he didn't really want to listen to the answer rather just give himself more time to talk, and so I didn't go into much detail. I told him it was essentially the same, to listen for the differences, and most importantly not to call attention to himself or disturb anyone else, as always.

The next 5 minutes and 44 seconds went by quickly and peacefully. Just about everyone had their head down. Student B played around with his arm positioning and tried to call attention, but gave up pretty quickly when he didn't get any, and just sat quietly. I spent some extra time lingering in his vicinity as I circled around the room, and eventually sat down and joined the class for a few moments in stillness and silence at the end. It was less than a minute, and I don't know what they were doing or feeling, but I was grateful, because I really needed that minute, to sit and to breathe. It gave me enough energy to get through the rest of a very full and busy day.

Thankfully tomorrow is Friday and the next two Day 5's I can look forward to being out of the building. As I reflect on a fall day in Thursday, with a change in the weather that reminds me that winter is on the way, I realize I have a lot for which to be grateful even as there is much work ahead. Thank goodness for long weekends o come.

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