Sunday, December 11, 2016

Finally Friday

It was finally Friday, the Friday after the storm. It was a very long week, which simultaneously flew by, and everyone was happy it was Friday. Student A arrived a few minutes late and was clearly unsettled, immediately circling the room, grabbing people's papers and posters, and when he finally sat down, poking his pencil through the papers I had provided for drawing.

Part of me wonders if his anxiousness had something to do with my absence the afternoon before, and part of me imagines that whatever happens in his life and head has little, or nothing, to do with me. I also know that on one hand it doesn't matter, and on the other hand I speculate, because I really wish I knew, and it would be so much easier if Student A could tell me himself. I consistently try to remind him that he can tell me what he needs, but I am not really certain that he is able. I feel that if he could then he would, and many of his challenges in school are based on the fact that he cannot voice his needs.

After announcements and before starting our day, I managed to take a minute to sit down with him and set our schedule for the day. This has proven helpful, as when he knows what the day has in store, and that he will have time for Minecraft and some days, extra gym, then it makes the day easier for him and me, even if he doesn't always stick to the schedule.

On Friday morning our talk helped him to settle a little, but he kept poking the pencil through his paper, and making noise each time he did. until we were ready to start the meditation and I reminded him the only thing he couldn't do was bother someone else. I told him I wanted him in the room, but if he kept making noise he would have to leave, and that he could choose to focus on his drawing instead. I left him to make his choice and thankfully, after a few final stabs at the paper, he turned his attention to drawing and was quiet while he did.

The next six and a half minutes went by quickly and the room was still and silent. Though both Mr. Y and I had told them that we didn't want them up until midnight the night before finishing their projects, and could take the weekend if they needed, many of them had still been up late and were tired. They were glad when I noted that we had made it to Friday, but were even happier to have the moments to rest. Student B was also quiet, because he was preoccupied with all the time he had wasted and all the work he still had to do, especially when he learned, though it had been said many times before, that we were doing other things and there were no work periods that day. It didn't matter to me that he was quiet because he was sulky and sad- it is all part of our learning in grade 7.

I went through the usual prompts and breath count, and brought attention to our learning in grade 7 during the focused breath. I encouraged them to notice how they felt and find what they needed in each breath, as they reflected on their projects, learning, how they had used their time, their efforts, and their accomplishments, or lack thereof. I emphasized being honest, without using it as excuse to put themselves down, but rather to take the opportunity to examine their habits, to see what they need to keep doing and what they need to change. Then I reminded them to inhale what they needed, like the strength to keep going, while exhaling the fear that blocks them from being their best.

We moved into the silence and the room stayed still. I looked over at Student A and at some point he had put his drawing away and his head down. He appeared calm and comfortable, as did everyone else. I found a seat and joined in the silence and gratitude for Friday and the weekend to come. The meditation ended peacefully and then we moved into the classes of the morning, in which I read them The Holocaust story, The Mozart Question, and they drew as they listened. We didn't quite finish in the first 2 periods, and so I took our French period in the afternoon, and the drawings and impressions were really remarkable. This week, we will have to do some sharing.

My switch class came to my room after gym, during period 4 and with only one period together, I chose a short 5 and a half minute track. They were chatty and energized after gym, and took a few minutes to get settled as we began the class, but calmed once we began the meditation. Though still not as still as my room, the class was quiet, and I once again noted the absence of Student 1, my fidgeter. Without him, there are only as couple of others who are prone to fidget, the boy who sits beside Student 2 and another girl. who is pretty self-involved, and has trouble settling if she has other things on her mind.

Today everyone, including both of them, were pretty still and silent as we moved through the prompts, breath count, and the same focused breathing I had encouraged with my class earlier, though the boy required a reminder before putting his book away. I joined in the silence and was distracted once, by the boy, who I thought would disturb Student 2, who tries to breathe but has a quick temper, but he didn't, and I closed my eyes again to take a few more breaths.

Just before the silence ended, the girl, completely involved in whatever she urgently had to do in the moment, ripped a paper out of her binder, making a loud noise, which was amplified by the silence of the room. As they are gaining the power of meditation, no one in the class was disturbed, but as I am the teacher, I was, and I was annoyed. I opened my eyes, and because she knew she was doing something she was not supposed to be, she looked up at me as I did. In an attempt to speak her language, and not give her the satisfaction of destroying the peace or getting attention, I looked at her and rolled my eyes, conveying my disdain for her selfish actions and lack of awareness and respect for others. She got the message, mostly because she knows she is not supposed to disturb others.

A breath or two later the track ended, and after we were done, but before we started the class, I reminded them that though we are individuals, we live in the world, and the classroom, together, and our choices and actions impact each other, even if it is just shifting a chair or pulling out a paper, and that awareness of each other is what we are growing towards. Then we got on with our learning and another class, and morning, were done before I knew it.

As was the afternoon, the day, and now this weekend. I hope you enjoyed yours as well. Wishing everyone a safe, productive and happy week. And to teachers like me, 9 get-ups to go.

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