Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Last Few Days Before Break

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Considering for most of the day I thought yesterday was Tuesday, another Tuesday was not exactly what I was looking forward to, but considering it is a short week, I guess I can't complain. At this stage, every moment is a minute closer to the holidays, and as far as I, and just about everyone I know, are concerned, it cannot get here soon enough.

Day 2 is always a crazy enough day, with Band/exploratory and Choir before break and TAA right after lunch, and today was even crazier, with about 5 students in each class away for the day with the Pop Choir singing Christmas Carols at The Forks. The first two periods of the morning went smoothly enough, except for Student A, who was losing it and started throwing things around the room before break.

I made a couple of efforts to speak to him and see if I could understand what was bothering him, but when that didn't work, and he refused to talk to me, I just let our admin know what was going on and I went back to the classroom. Mr. Y and I had decided that we would bring whoever was around from both classes together to meditate and then we would give some choices, including one room for work and quiet games, while we put on a movie in the other room.

Everyone was pretty excited when they heard the plan, especially as for one room it meant no Math and for the other a delay in their French presentations, and settled into the meditation very quickly. I set the music to the longest track and started the usual prompts and breath count.

I was coming to the end of the breath count when I heard the phone ringing from my classroom. I wrapped up the count I was on, told them to keep breathing, and left the room to answer the phone. My VP was calling me to tell me Student A had been rounded up and was in the office working on his puzzle. We chatted for about a minute and then I went back  to the other classroom.

I expected to return to the silence I had left, but instead came back to giggling and laughter, as I opened the door. I asked what I had missed, and Mr. Y explained that he had tried to pick up where I left off, but the result had been quite comical. He said they all stopped breathing, and everyone laughed.

I replied that thankfully, no one had stopped breathing or we would have much bigger problems, and then I reminded everyone that there were no right or wrong words, and that they all knew what to do. It was coming to the point in the track when I would stop talking anyway, so I told them we would do just that, and moved into the silence.

The room was still and quiet, and before I closed my eyes, I noted aloud once more that the beauty of meditation is its flexibility, and even if it gets disrupted, one can move right back into the silence, just like they had in that moment. I took a random chair in the room and joined in the silence, taking a few moments to breath, grateful that I didn't have to manage any behaviour for a few moments. 

I lingered in the silence for a breath or two as the track ended and then encouraged the students to do the same, not moving very quickly and taking the time to notice how they feel. As I ended the meditation and turned the lights on, I also addressed the awkwardness of leading a meditation.

I reminded them that there are no right or wrong words as long as they are bringing their focus and attention to their breath and that they could all lead a meditation if they chose. I suggested they might consider leading one in the future and they were welcome to practice, either by telling me the day before they wanted to lead, or on days when I am away and there is a substitute in the room. I suggested it was something  they should consider and we could explore in the new year. Then I brought our attention to the work of the day and we got on with it. With the choices of the morning, TAA and then delivering the Koats for Kids donations to the fire hall in the last part of the day, it was quite a day and it thankfully flew by quickly.

Wednesday December 21 and Thursday December 22

I did the writing about Tuesday promptly and just didn't get around to publishing it. I thought I would do the rest earlier, at the beginning of the holidays, and publish it all together, but as it turned out, as soon as the holidays began, my writing ended. If I had known I was going to take so long to write, I would have take better notes during the meditations and had more detail to write for each day. But things didn't work out that way, and so I must confess that I am writing about the last two days of the 2016 school year from memory, on the final Sunday night before the holidays, as I prepare to get into the swing of things once again.

Wednesday morning I saw my class during the first period and my switch class during second period and so I had the chance to meditate with each class early in the day. In my class, we were finishing our French interviews and so the focus was inhaling the confidence to present, while exhaling the nerves, or alternately, inhaling the patience to be a respectful and compassionate audience member, while exhaling our impatience for others, which sometimes leads to the need to call attention to oneself.

I remember it being quiet and uneventful, and what I hoped would be an indication of the day to come. In the class that followed, we finished the rest of the interviews, with just about everybody following through and presenting their questions and answers.

In the class that followed, we repeated the same meditation, with even more attention to the focused breath as after all the delays. we were finally getting to presenting the French interviews in this class. As the class came after only one period, as they got settled, I made a point of stating that I expected everyone had already gone to the bathroom and got their water, and that no one should be getting up then, or in the middle of the meditation. Everyone stayed put, even Student 2.

We got started pretty quickly and to my recollection it went smoothly. The focus was on the presentations that were to come, inhaling confidence, while visualizing the interview, loudly and clearly asking and answering questions, and then exhaling the nerves, noticing the nervous feeling that is natural and then letting it go with the exhale, making room for more confidence on the next inhale- reconciling with the idea that you might feel nervous, but you just do it anyway.

The moments of silence passed quickly and then we moved into the interviews, finishing several that morning and a bunch more during our period together that afternoon. We took a few minutes the following day, and before we left for holidays, everyone except one student who had been away sick had presented in that class as well. It proved what I always tell them, that they know more French than they think they do. We will definitely reflect on this more when they get their assessment back this week- one piece I did manage to mark when I finally got to marking yesterday.

Thursday, December 22- The Last Day Before the Holidays

We made it to Thursday and all that mattered was that it was Thursday, the last day and we just had to get through it. Mr. Y and I were even luckier, in a twist of scheduling that never happens to me, we had our classes for period 1 and 2, then they went to TAA and our afternoon was a dance and other school activities, so it made the day even easier. Though I ended up spending the bulk of my afternoon with Student A, I was essentially done teaching at 10:30 and it was an especially nice way to end the 2016 school year.

We began the morning bringing both classes together for our final meditation of the year, a METTA meditation. Along with the other bit of scheduling luck, it turned out there was also extra gym for our boys, Student A, his buddy from the other room, and Student 2, and so when they asked if they could go, we were happy to tell the to have fun. Student B was also away that day and so it made for a quiet classroom and a lovely way to end the year.

It didn't take long for both classes to settle into Mr. Y's room and while many were away, I was also happy to have two visitors, a couple my former students who needed a place to volunteer as part of their grade 9 day, and were spending their with me. They were also happy to join in the meditation and when I looked over at them in the classroom, it felt good to have them there.

Though the METTA meditation is longer it went by quickly, and with all the players away, I didn't need to manage any behaviour. I moved through the usual prompts, breath count and then the stages of the METTA meditation, extending our caring and compassion in each step.

As we moved to the final stage, we considered all of the students in our school, and then people in the city, province and beyond. who might not be excited about the holidays, who might be stressed, sad, who might not have family, friends, enough to eat or a home in which to live, and we extended our caring and compassion, wishing for them the same things we wish for ourselves- May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be safe.

Then we all moved into a moment of silent gratitude and I was truly grateful, for my students, current and those who come back to visit, and our time together, especially in silence, as we came to the end of the 2016 school year, and for the holiday that was to come. I really couldn't have thought of a better way to start the day to end the year.

And now it is 2017. Two weeks have flown by and we are going back. Back to the writing I have begun again today. Back to the school day cycle, the learning, the projects, and the pile of marking. And back to meditating with my students, one day at a time, one breath at a time.

I wish everyone a great start to the 2017 year.

No comments:

Post a Comment