Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Full Moon or Something Tuesday

I feel better when I read other teacher's posts, and see it is not just me who is experiencing the challenges of the upcoming holidays, the phases of the moon, and all the other influences on the lives of kids as they navigate middle school, that makes some of them, and the days, just crazy. Today was another one of those days that I am now grateful is done. I am also grateful that this is really as bad as it gets, or at least I hope so.

Student A came in a little calmer and seemed a little more settled in the morning, and went of to Mr. Y's room for Math with the rest of my class, while my switch class came to me first thing in the morning. Just about everyone was back in class, and Student A arrived just a few minutes late, and just as we were about to meditate. The lights were already down when he quietly came in and took his spot with the group.

I moved through the prompts, connecting with Treaty 1 Territory land and giving thanks for the warmth indoors with the frigid temperatures outdoors, the breath count, and then the focused breathing. I encouraged them to bring all of their attention and energy to each inhale and each exhale, and as they inhaled to breathe in their strength and positivity, and as they exhaled to let go of their fear and negativity, to make room for the next inhale, building more strength and positivity.

We moved into the silence and I sat down in the empty chair beside Student 2 and looked across at Student 1. He was pretty quiet as he came in visibly tired, and put his head down as soon as we started. Noticing that he was quiet, and that Student 2 was also sitting quietly beside me breathing, I closed my eyes and joined in the silence.

As I breathed, I listened to the sounds in the room, the shuffling of feet or a chair, people shifting in their seats, not real noise, but not silence. I also noticed just about everyone remained relaxed and undisturbed, enjoying the peace, at least for a few breaths. It was broken when the boy beside Student 1started drumming his fingers on the table.

I heard the noise, opened my eyes, and watched him moving his fingers back and forth against the edge of the table, with both hands. Student 1, who was also bothered by the noise, looked up and also watched the boy beside him for a moment, and then he watched me, watching the boy. When we made eye contact I smiled at Student 1 and kept watching, not quite sure if the student was even aware he was making noise. Student 1 nudged the boy beside him until the boy finally looked at me, saw me looking at him, sort of smiled back at me, and stopped drumming his fingers. Then the room was quiet for the last few breaths.

As the track ended, I encouraged students to come back slowly, taking a couple of breaths before they moved too much or opened their eyes. Then, before I got up to turn on the lights or start the class, I spoke to them from the desk where I was sitting in the circle. I reminded them how we are all working together, and that the idea is to be more mindful, to be aware of the moments, the room and each other before they moved, illustrating the shuffling of the chair, pulling of a paper, or drumming fingers and the noise it makes.

I spoke quietly and gently, making a point of showing them I wasn't angry or upset, and that I wondered if many times they even noticed they were moving or making noise. I told them that if I was the meditator their noises wouldn't even bother me, as they don't many students in the class, but because I am the teacher, I am here to notice these things, and that these are the things we are here to learn, and why meditation is also considered a practice, with some days better than others.

Some days the practice is in patience, which is a large part of meditating, teaching and life in and out of middle school, especially just before the holidays, and especially with Student A. I spent a large part of my day working to support his needs, get him to the spaces where he could self-regulate, and managing his behaviour, because he was bothering so many kids so much, a couple of students were at the point where they might hit him in the face.

It was Day 3 today, and so I didn't see my class as a whole until the final period of the day, which by then had been a long day, especially for Student A, who had finally become engaged in his game design in the class before. As my students came back from Band and got settled, I had been trying to coerce Student A to sit down and join us to meditate.

After he had refused to leave Mr. Y's room, where he had been involved in the game design, Mr. Y jokingly rolled Student A back to my room in his chair. We tried to cajole him from that chair to his seat, but Student A wouldn't have it. He continued to circle around the room, and once everyone else was ready to go, and my patience was running thin, I told him I wanted him to sit down and join us, but he chose to leave the room instead. He knows what to do to take care of himself so I was not concerned, I was also just as happy for the quiet and I started the meditation.

As it was the last period of the day, I chose a short track, and about a minute in Student A came back. Before he entered, he made a lot of noise throwing himself against the window, and then opening to door, stating loudly, "Time to meditate." Student B, and his friends across the room stifled their giggles and managed to keep it together for the moment.

As soon as Student A came in I stood behind him, encouraging him to relax and let go, as I went on with the meditation, but he was fixated on the boy beside him. At one point, he seemed calmer and so I began to walk away, but had to come back pretty quickly when Student A started putting pencil shavings on the head of the boy beside him. Student B and his friends were doing everything they could to keep it together, especially after a couple of looks and a reminder to Student B that he is better than the attention he seeks, but it was only a matter of time.

At one point Student A relaxed again, allowing me to move away for a few minutes, yet never having a moment to sit down. Within a breath or two, he had started again, and this time I took a seat between Student A and the boy he was bothering. The whole thing was too much for Student B and especially his friend, the boy who always gets hurt, across the room. They thought the whole thing was hilarious. I gave them a couple of looks, but in the end smiled with them as they quietly giggled.

As the track ended, today's five and a half minutes seemed incredibly long, I encouraged them to stay with their breath and not move too quickly. Then we all took a deep inhale and an audible exhale, letting go of all our frustration. I had them repeat that, and then I had everyone take a deep inhale and on the exhale, start laughing. I encouraged them to laugh and make noise and let it all out, because on a cold and crazy afternoon like today, what else were we going to do?

It was amazing that almost all of them used the last 20 minutes of the day to work on the French interviews they are preparing, especially once Student A got involved with his Minecraft, and we ended on a pretty positive note.

It wasn't much of a meditation, but at least the day ended peacefully enough, and whatever tomorrow brings, now there are only 7 more get-ups to go.

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