Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Another Snowy Day

Well, as I predicted yesterday, schools in Winnipeg did not close, and though the main streets were plowed, the residential streets were not, and so there were no school buses today. Despite the challenge of getting to school, almost all of our students managed to make it in today, including Student B, who thought we were still going to the library, and Student 2. Student A and a few others didn't make it in, but the majority did.

As we were supposed to be on our field trip, working at the Millennium Library, we knew that most of our students were counting on time today to finish their Science projects, Novel Studies and Social Studies assignments that are all due at the end of the week, and so we planned our day accordingly. We allotted the morning for work time, and spent a few minutes adjusting the library plans to fit our school schedule, and then we left the afternoon flexible, offering a break from the work, with a movie in one classroom and board games in the other. As always, our students rolled with the punches, adapted to all the changes and made the most of their work and play time.

And as always, we started the day with a meditation. As we were offering flexible work time all morning, we started with both classes together, to set intention for the day, and to meditate. Everyone got settled in Mr. Y's class really quickly, as by now coming together to work and learn in one room is part of our regular routine. We rarely need to do any arranging of seats, or ask people to move around, and we didn't have to again this morning.

As they got comfortable, Mr. Y and I explained the plan for the day, and that with focus and effort, they could likely get everything they had hoped to accomplish at the library done in the morning, and then have some time to relax in the afternoon, and that we would take the time to prepare for a productive morning and a fun afternoon.

A few students asked if we could meditate for a long time, and so I suggested a METTA meditation, to which, of course a few responded with a "What's that?" I reminded them that the METTA meditations were the ones with the statements,  "May you be happy, May you be healthy, May you be safe," and quite a few were pretty excited, but there were some audible groans as well. So I asked for a show of hands, and while it was very close, there was a clear majority who preferred the regular meditation, and so that is what we did.

All the power players were spread out around the room, and Student 1 actually had me a little worried, because he put his head down and didn't move for the entire six and a half minutes.  I checked in with him at the end and he told me he was just tired, but I was still a little concerned as I had never seen him so still.....not that I am complaining.

Like yesterday, and every day, we began by planting our feet flat on the ground, connecting with Treaty 1 Territory Land and the weather it brings. Today as we connected with the land, we connected with the seasons and the fact that we get to experience all four seasons, including the crazy winter weather, when many people do not, which can help us be grateful, even when there is  a snow storm.

Then we moved through the rest of the prompts, with a focus on stillness and the challenge to remain as still as they are silent, throughout the meditation. Then we moved through the breath count to the focused breath. Today I guided them to find what they need, visualizing the work they had planned for themselves ahead and what they wanted to accomplish, just as though we were going to the library, only at school instead. I encouraged them to find what they need and grow it through their inhale, whether they needed focus, confidence or positivity. I reminded them to let go of their blocks, their worries and fears through their exhales, especially the distractions that come from their own minds. 

We moved into the silence and it was powerful. The room was completely still and silent and the hallway was pretty quiet too. I found a chair in the centre of the room and joined in the silence, breathing in my gratitude for my students and their ability to go with the flow, which makes our lives as teachers so much easier. Even though we weren't going to the library I felt it was going to be a really good day and they felt it too.

As the track ended the room was completely silent. I once again lingered, curious to see if anyone would break it before I did. No one moved or made a sound- it was brilliant. I didn't want to push my luck, so after 2 or 3 breaths I spoke gently encouraging them to stay with their breath and the silence and to notice how they feel. I encouraged them to take a few more moments to really consider what how they were feeling and what they needed to do to make the morning successful. 

We took a few more deep breaths before I guided them to bring their awareness back to their bodies and then the classroom. Everyone came back quietly, and then within a few minutes, we were all off to work.  It also turned out that the library was free for two periods in the middle of the morning, so our students were able to spread out, access computers and make the most of the time and space. 

When we met again after lunch, almost everyone agreed that the morning had flown by and that they had accomplished even more than they would have at the library. Mr. Y and I told them how impressed we were with their efforts and accomplishments in the morning, and were happy to provide some well deserved time to relax and enjoy in the afternoon, with a break for their regularly scheduled gym class. Most watched the movie, but a group of 6-8 students, mostly girls with a couple of boys, played charades- they had an app-in my room for the entire afternoon. 

While I would still like to have an actual snow day, and stay home, when the weather is deemed "blizzard conditions," if  days like this are what snowstorms bring, then life is pretty okay. I imagine things will go back to "normal" tomorrow, whatever that means. 

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