There is no doubt that the holidays are coming, and no doubt that today was Monday, and by the end of the day, the kids, especially Student A, were losing it a little. It was one of those crazy days. Day 2s, when we begin with Band/Exploratory and Choir, and have TAA in the afternoon, makes for a more relaxed teaching day, but it sometimes harder on the kids, especially when they need to focus and work, and so requires more behaviour management. There are less opportunities for meditation on Day 2s. the day we need it the most. So I tried to make the most of the time we had, and I take solace reminding myself that there are days like this, and they too pass. And if this is the worst of them, I am pretty lucky.
I saw my switch class after break in the morning and there were quite a few students absent, but Student 1 was back and his presence noted immediately. As he sat down, he picked up a few large blobs of Plasticine, with which he promptly began playing. I reminded him that fidget toys shouldn't require his focus, or make any noise, and encouraged him to relax along with everyone else.
As I turned out the lights and started the music, Student 2 got up to leave the room, supposedly to go to the bathroom. He does that occasionally, and as he comes and goes he is relatively mindful, yet it can be somewhat annoying, and a conversation we will eventually have, but for today, I let it, and him, go, as I began the usual prompts, breath count and guided breath, with a focus on a positive start to the week.
Student 1 was unsettled from the beginning, fidgeting with the Plasticine, which jiggled the table calling the attention of the person beside him, who responded by spreading his elbows out into the middle of the table. As they attempted to call each other's attention I stood between them both, encouraging them to focus inward and relax by bringing their attention to their breath, and letting everything else go.
As we moved into the silence, I sat down in the empty seat beside Student 1, and though he never stopped fidgeting and rolling the Plasticine, he didn't bother the student beside him anymore, nor was he bothered by him. He looked over at me every once in awhile, I think to make sure I was still there, and then kept playing, but he was quiet. So was everyone else.
I was happy Student 1 seemed calmer, and really impressed by the power everyone else had displayed in their focus- no one else was bothered by Student 1, or the coming and going of Student 2, or anything else. Head up or down, everyone else was quiet and pretty still, enjoying the time to breathe. It was a good start for a Monday, not the best meditation, not the most peaceful, but good enough for a Monday.
The morning should have been an indicator of what was to come in the afternoon, but if it wasn't, once everyone got together and seated, if not entirely settled, in the library after break, it was clear it we weren't going to reach the depths of peace and silence, and if we achieved mostly quiet it was going to be good enough.
My class got to the library first and as we hadn't had the chance to meditate, though I was planning to anyway, when one noticed and asked if we would, I turned the question back to them and asked if they wanted to meditate. There was a resounding yes, which was clearly louder than the few audible groans I also heard. A minute later, Mr. Y's class joined us, and though they had already meditated, I told them they would be joining my class who hadn't yet had the chance. They spread around the room, filling the empty spaces, some at tables, some in front of computers, and others on the beanbag chairs, including the one Student A often uses, even though I had urged him to take it while he was waiting for his computer to load.
I was grateful he didn't bother the boy who had taken his spot, and just sat down in front of the computer, but still wished he had the spot later, when he was drumming his fingers on the keyboard and mouse, trying to disturb my Breather, sitting beside him and me, asking him to stop. At one point the noise was wearing on me so much that I momentarily considered asking the boy in the beanbag chair to move for him, just so he could be quiet. But I couldn't disturb the boy who had just sat there, nor could I reward Student A's poor choices.
Thankfully, by the time I had to give all my attention to Student A, Student B and his buddy, who were once again sitting together, had quieted. As we began the meditation, they were having a staring contest and trying to make each other laugh, so I stood between them and placed a binder to block their view. I am pretty grateful they lost interest in bothering each other, because Student A had a tough day and a hard time settling.
I made my way over to him and his agitation and the noise it was producing was the worst I have seen, and he did not respond to my initial requests as he has in the past. I stopped the breath count and other guidance, reminding my students that they knew what to do, so that I could direct my attention to Student A in quiet conversation. I again encouraged him to tell me what he needed, and then when he couldn't, I encouraged him to relax. I tried to soothe him, telling him to give himself the chance, encouraging him to put his head down and breathe. Eventually he did, and was quiet for the last 2 or 3 minutes, but not as calm as he has been in the past. But, again for a Monday afternoon before the holidays, I'll take it.
Once he quieted I was able to devote my attention to the group, encouraging them to stay with their breath and the silence. Most appeared undisturbed by any of the more restless students, including my Breather, who was sitting right beside Student A. For the second time today I noticed that the majority are finding their power in their ability to focus inward and enjoy the quiet time and a few minutes to breath regardless of what is going on around them,
Though again it was not perfect, the 5 and a half minutes still went by quickly, as they usually do, and though I didn't leave Student A's vicinity, or even close my eyes, I was glad he did and had enjoyed a few quiet minutes. It didn't last for long and once the meditation was done, he had a hard time focusing and didn't even want to work on Minecraft. This was the biggest indicator that something was up, and as tough and annoying as his behaviour may have been for me to deal with, whatever is going on, I know that it is way more difficult for him. I just hope tomorrow is a better day for him, and everyone.
Eight more get-ups to go!