Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Week to get Stuff Done

This week was do or die, both for students and teachers. Report cards go live Wednesday, and while the actual deadline was last Thursday, teachers know that as long as they are in over the weekend, everything will be okay. Teachers have to assess the work to write reports, and in order to do that, students have to get their projects and assignments in to their teachers. Though many students consistently adhere to deadlines, a few of which were early last week, if not before, many of our students procrastinate and straggle, and a few struggle, to get their work done. As middle school teachers, we are aware of how students work and learn, and are also aware that during the last week of the term, we sometimes have to light a fire underfoot, push a little, nag a little and threaten some, so students follow through and finish their work and hand it in. This is very true of some of the students in my class, and more so of the students in my switch class.

In my class. most were done their assignments, and working diligently to prepare the presentations on the country they had researched, which they would be delivering, started at the end of last week, in front of the students in both classes. The conscientious and motivated students in both my classes worked on their presentations all week, double-checking their slides for common errors and practicing their delivery. Over the years, I have seen some kids practice their presentations, and it is why we provide the time for it, but I have never seen anything like the students I have this year. It is really remarkable, as were the six presentations we saw to start things off on Friday afternoon.

But before that, the week was devoted to getting things done as were each of our meditations. And somehow, get things done we did. At the end of the week, just about everyone had submitted almost everything, if not all of their assignments. Last week, I assessed some 20 Social Studies Research Countries Projects, and this weekend I added 40 ELA letters, essays and articles about Hana's Suitcase. I then went on to write 134 comments in four different subjects to start and finish my report cards. Somehow it always gets done....even if it means sitting on the couch for the entire weekend.

I don't have much energy left for writing, and with daylight savings time. I lost an hour and it is getting late, so I don't have much time for writing either. But I don't want the week to get lost, and I don't want to have to come back to it next week, when I will have more meditations about which ti write, and so I am just going to make some notes and highlight the key events of the week.

Monday, March 6

  • A Day 2, but nothing out of the ordinary
  • My class period 3, my switch class period 4
  • A regular Monday, get-ready-for-the-week-and-get-stuff-done meditation
  • The grade 8 French Immersion class invited me back in the afternoon, with a call first thing in the morning
  • I learned that they enjoyed the guidance and the way I talked them through it
  • I was honoured to be invited back and happy to oblige
  • It was a peaceful and quiet six and a half minutes
  • I gave little instruction and I enjoyed the time
  • I thanked them before I left 
  • I told them if they wanted me to come back next Day 2 we could try a Metta Meditation
  • They said they would be happy to have me back 
  • I am looking forward to it
Tuesday, March 7

  • The first 2 periods in the library, first my class and then my switch class
  • Pretty quiet as usual, especially first thing in the morning
  • Student A was with his EA, pretty quiet
  • Student B's buddies were a little giggly and unsettled, for the first time in awhile
  • They have been more rambunctious lately, perhaps in compensation for Student B's absence, or perhaps they always were, and their behaviour is only noticeable now that he is gone
  • Regardless I spent some time standing behind them as we meditated and they eventually settled
  • I would never let them know, but they were kind of cute, pretty funny
  • My switch class came and they were pretty quiet
  • Student 1 didn't get a beanbag chair and so he lay down on the floor
  • He tried to call attention as he crawled under a table, but eventually quieted
  • Everyone else was quiet and undisturbed even though a few people came in and out of the library
Wednesday, March 8

  • I was lucky to get the library again as my students needs computers, and each class had a period, first my students, then my switch class
  • Each period was a short 5 minute, focus and get lots done, meditation
  • Both periods were very quiet and the 5 minutes flew by, as did the morning
  • As I started the week with my class, it was the stillest and quietest meditation of the week
  • Both classes were undisturbed by the door opening and closing
  • In the meditation with my switch class, at one point the door opened, and two teachers proceeded to have a conversation outside the door
  • As their voices carried through the library, I moved to the door and gestured to try to gain their attention and indicate that they should close the door
  • Still oblivious, one asked if I wanted to talk to them, to which I requested they close the door, and they finally understood their conversation was impacting the space and the silence
  • I was proud and grateful that my students didn't let the noise bother them, but I was a little annoyed and disheartened by their lack of awareness
  • Later one of the teachers apologized and said they saw that the library was dark and thought it was closed- we were so quiet he didn't even know we were there, which I appreciated hearing

    Thursday, March 9

    • Our monthly visit to the library and the usual meditation to prepare for the day
    • As usual it was a quick 5 minute meditation, visualizing the space at the library and what they hoped to accomplish, as the breathed in what they needed to make that happen
    • Student 1 was sitting near his friends
    • As we started, he took out his music device, which he listens to on the bus, and put the headphones in his ears
    • He turned it on and at first I didn't mind, but when he turned the music up to the point that I could hear it across the room, beyond it being extremely annoying behaviour that was disrupting the meditation, it is harmful to his hearing and could damage his eardrums 
    • This was what I told him as I went over and insisted he either turn them down or I would take them away
    • He complied, but was restless for the rest of the meditation, and as I stood beside him, I took a few breaths and hoped he would be okay for the rest of the day at the library
    • It turned out he was, as was everybody else, and we all enjoyed the day
    Friday, March 10

    • Presentation day had finally arrived and kids were excited, especially the six who knew they were presenting that afternoon
    • They had time in the morning to practice and with only one period with each class, I decided to save the meditation until the afternoon
    • Both classes met in Mr. Y's room after lunch for what would be an entire afternoon of presentations
    • I put on a 6 and a half minute track to prepare for the afternoon
    • I told them they think the work is in presenting, but it is actually in listening, especially when you know your presentation is coming
    • The meditation was regular with a focus for both presenters and audience
    • I encouraged presenters inhale the confidence and exhale nerves fears and doubts, while visualizing the presentation- recognizing their nerves, but doing it anyway
    • I encouraged the audience to inhale the focus, patience and respect to listen to their peers' presentations, while exhaling the distractions, impatience and desire to call attention to the self and take away from someone else's presentation. That is the real work and I reminded them they were all capable
    • It was a very quiet silence, and I know there were quite a few kids who were nervous, but there was also quite a few who took the time to relax
    • At least that is what the afternoon indicated- the six presenters were prepared, with a clear understanding of their topics and the ability to answer questions, even though they were nervous
    • The behaviour of the audience was brilliant- quiet, respectful and engaged, listening and asking questions- and we only had to threaten them with an, "You interrupt, you go next" threat once
    • It was hard to believe it was Friday afternoon
    • Our intention was to choose student who we know would set the bar high and we were successful, as were they
    • It was awesome seeing their learning and letting them know
    And now it is hard to believe another weekend has passed, report cards are written, Student Led Conferences are this week,as are more presentations, which we need to finish before Spring Break, which is around the corner. 

    All one day at a time, one breath at a time. Wishing you a good week.

    May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe.

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