Sunday, January 22, 2017

Peaceful Moments in the Midst of Crazy Days- WTF

It is hard to describe the level of peace our daily meditation routine has brought to the classroom each morning, and the solace it brings me each day, especially when the days get as crazy as this week has been. It takes no time for the classes to settle, whether they put their heads down or sit up, they become quiet quickly, with few prompts. Everyone seems to appreciate the time, the moments as I say, and they have begun to mimic, to relax and breathe, especially first thing in the morning. It has made for peaceful starts and finishes to the morning for the last couple of days. I am especially grateful, because not only do I get to enjoy this time with my students, and build our positive classroom culture based on caring and compassion, but these days I need to breathe in every bit of calm and patience I can get.

Over the week, the meditations in both classes have become pretty routine. Beginning with the acknowledgement of Treaty 1 Territory land and our connection to it, through the body prompts, the breath count and the focused breath, encouraging them to find what they need, based on whatever it is we are doing that day, inhaling the positive quality they wish to grow, and exhaling the negative quality, or fear that blocks them. The words vary a little from day to day, and class to class, but overall the idea is the same, and by now, they all already know what it is. With the routine in place, we have all found comfort in the still and silence over the last couple of days, even in my switch class. In the six minutes or so of our meditations, a remarkable silence, and with it a sense of peace has prevailed.

Wednesday, I started with my class and it was quiet as soon as it began, and as we moved into the stillness, I looked around the room at their relaxed postures, and felt the comfort I imagine they feel in the classroom, If there is noise, a shuffle in the room, or voices in the hallway, they remain undisturbed, knowing they deserve this time for them and that only they have the power to take it away. The occasional noise brings even more power to the silence and joy to my heart.

Thursday morning, my class and I meditated first thing in the morning before we attended a presentation in the gym. We were going to be called down before the show at 9:15, and after some conversation about the presentation to come, I started the six minute track at around 9:07 or so. I was still talking as the first announcement came on, calling the grade 6 classes to the gym and so I mentioned that we would see how long it would take for them to call us, but not to worry about it too quickly- we would get there. They remained in their meditations as I spoke, and I continued guiding them, and shortly after we moved into the silence.

About 2 or 3 minutes later the announcement for grade 7 classes came and no one in my class moved. Everyone stayed with their breath, as did I. We were very close to the end, and there were a few classes going down, so I knew it was okay if we were the last. I knew we had enough time, and my class trusted that I knew. We all took those final silent breaths, and as the track ended, and I closed the meditation, I congratulated my students on maintaining their power and knowing we would get to the gym when we were done with enough time. Then we went off to enjoy the show.

I saw my switch class at the end of the morning both Wednesday and Thursday, and they too were remarkably settled and peaceful, especially for this class. As a whole, the class is more settled, the readers and lookers have relaxed, and the fidgeters are gaining more control, even Student 1. Student 2 continues to leave sometimes, like yesterday, but always returns very mindfully, and Thursday he stayed throughout, as did everyone.

Both days were quick, with just over five minutes to meditate in the single period before lunch, shorter still when they arrive after gym or band, in not too much of a hurry. I have always encouraged them to settle quickly, and make the most of their time, and this week they have responded more. It seems to be coming more naturally. I notice the comfort growing with this group as well, which is what I told them at the end of a very peaceful meditation Thursday morning.

I mentioned that I appreciated that they all stayed throughout the time. I recognized that I understood sometimes they may have to go, and I appreciated the mindfulness they exhibit when they do, especially when they come back quietly. But I emphasized that it is even better when they are all there for the whole time, and there is no disruption to the flow. I told them I felt their peace, their power and their growth in the room on Thursday and it was a real joy.

In light of some of the craziness I had to deal with that afternoon, my meditations with my students, especially with my switch class, were highlights of my day. At least I had Friday to look forward to.

Friday, January 20th

It was finally Friday and the day began with a big meeting about our classrooms' needs, with me, Mr. Y, the resource teacher, the vice principal, the occupational therapist and the psychologist all in attendance. It was a very positive and productive start to the day, which isn't always the case with these kinds of meetings.

It was particularly validating when I spoke of their receptiveness to meditation, and the benefits I see for my students, and the OT suggested I implement it more, including an additional Mindfulness meditations in the afternoon. My response reflected my joy, stating I didn't need more encouragement than that to bring more meditations into the classroom.

The meeting ended, and I got back to class in time to work with my class after break. I told them the results of the meeting and that they could look forward to more afternoon moments to breathe next week, and in the future, But whatever would be after today, they could look forward to the moments we had to breathe right then, to make the most of the day ahead,  and bring a strong close to the week.

As had been the case all week, the room became quiet pretty quickly. Student B was a little excited, still dealing with a lot at home, and decided to use Student A's absence as an opportunity to draw attention, by demonstrating some annoying noises and behaviours, but a reminder that he could control them and was above them was all it took to help him settle along with everyone else.

With only one period together, I chose a short 5 and a half minute track and encouraged them to notice how they feel and to use their breath to help them find what they need, as I moved into the usual meditation focusing on a positive and productive end to the week. The stillness and silence in the room was even more remarkable, as I carried in me the positive feeling of the earlier meeting, and future direction of the class. There was a good feeling in the room as we ended the meditation and got to work on various tasks.

Before I knew it, it was time to switch for the last period of the morning. As I have all week, I again encouraged them to get into that meditative state as quickly as they could, by settling and bringing their attention to how they feel and their breath. It didn't take long before everyone was quiet, though as we began, Student 2 told me he had "to go." When I questioned his sincerity, he assured me it was real. I took him at his word, but I think I am going to do some detective work soon. Based on some other events, I have come to believe he is playing games on his phone in the bathroom in this time....I will keep you posted.

On Friday, I let it, and him, go, consciously choosing to step away from that battle, preferring to enjoy the quiet of the classroom with those who like to be there instead. It seemed as though everyone was happy to be there, as they relaxed into my voice guiding them through the now familiar feeling meditating, with more or less the same words as I had used earlier that morning.

Though not as still as the day before, the room was pretty quiet. A shh helped a couple of boys to settle. I don't know what they were caught up in, but they were giggling over something, which was actually pretty cute, though I couldn't let them go on. There were no other disturbances to the silence, beyond a shuffle here or there, or sounds wafting through the hallway, and everyone enjoyed the quiet. It was comfortable and pleasant.

It went quickly, as did the rest of the morning, the day, and now again the weekend is swiftly passing. The quick passage of time is becoming an unintentional continuing theme. I guess as I stop to notice the moments and the breaths, its impossible to miss their fleeting nature. Maybe it is all to help me appreciate how crazy time is, to be mindful of it, and grateful for it, as I am now.

Whatever the case, I am happy to still have the day ahead this weekend, even if it does involve a lot of marking. Happy Sunday!

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