Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thursday at the Millennium Library

Our field trip was cancelled last week because of the snow, but I was lucky to get a bus for today and so we were off to the library. It was freezing outside, but sunny and warm under the big windows and our students had a fun and productive day, well most of them anyway- everyone managed to accomplish the fun part, and not get themselves in any trouble or be too annoying, and the day was happily uneventful.

Before we left, following our now regular routine, after announcements we all came together in Mr. Y's room. We had to spend an extra few minutes talking about safety and awareness at the library, as there had been an incident the other day when a colleague was there with her students, and they had to alert security who called the police. We talked about staying with their friends, knowing where we, their  teachers, were, and remembering they are familiar with the library staff and even the security guards, who are there if we need them.

Then we spoke of the need to balance our awareness of the dangers in the world and our surroundings with our ability to live, and enjoy our lives in the world and all it has to offer, that we need to pay attention to ourselves and our surroundings so that we don't let fear control us or the things we do, and that I expected we would enjoy our learning at the library again today as we have before, which thankfully is exactly what we did.

It was on that note that we began the meditation. Student A had been a little jumpy in the morning, but had settled as we came together, and even though he was sitting next to his buddy from the other room, put his head down when we began the meditation, as did his friend and just about everyone else. Student B and Student 2 were in different corners, both a little tired and quiet. Student 1 was away again, as were a few other, but everyone who was there was happy to be there, and to be going to the library. Everyone settled very quickly and the room was calm and quiet from beginning to end.

We started the meditations with the usual prompts and breath count and I was able to focus on my words, without having to manage any behaviour or hover in any one spot. I moved to the focused breath and guided them to visualize the library, to imagine the plan they had laid out for the day, and visualize the spot they would sit, whether on the first floor with us, somewhere on the carousels along the stairs, or up on the fourth floor, and the work they would accomplish. I encouraged them to set their intentions for the day, the goals they hoped to accomplish, and envision them with each breath, inhaling their strength and confidence to follow through, and exhaling the fear that gets in their way.

We moved into the silence and it was lovely to find an available chair, and not have to worry about standing near one or two students, or anyone bothering anyone else. I closed my eyes and breathed, enjoying the silence, feeling grateful for it, the day ahead, and the fact that my headache was gone.

As the track ended, there was no time to dawdle as we were heading out for the day. But before we got going, Mr.Y, who had been sitting at the front of the class, and rarely comments on meditations, took a moment to point out the growth he has observed over the last three months. He noted that when we first began, he used to look up and notice students fidgeting or calling attention, but now he hardly sees that anymore, He told them he sees their silence and their growing maturity.

It was nice that his comments echoed what I have noticed and told them as well, and even better that their choices throughout the day reflected the intentions they set for themselves. Student B was focused all day long, was productive and felt very accomplished, and even though there were a few tentative moments, Student A managed to pull it together when he needed to and make the most of his day too- we even found more Minecraft books.

Our meditation was a great start to a great day, and the perfect day for a Thursday. And tomorrow is not just Friday, but the last Friday of the 2016 school year. I am sure it will be a little long and a little crazy, but it is the start of the last week before the holidays, and only 5 more get-ups to go. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Friday!

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