Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Calm Monday, Crazy Tuesday

The last week in April, and as I reminded my students as it began, the only week in the next five in which we don't have a school event, holiday, PD day or field trip. One of the last full weeks of regular classroom learning, and so as we started the week, we determined to make the most of it, beginning with our breath.

I began the morning with my class and I couldn't have asked for a more peaceful start to the day and the week. As on previous Mondays, I know that much of the quietness comes from their utter exhaustion, as the days get longer, and my grade 7 students grow into that phase of adolescence which entails endless hours of communication on their devices, often late into the night. But I also know they are happy for the minutes to breathe, and this Monday was no different.

The six and a half minutes of silence were a blessing to start the day. They were also what has become pretty much routine when we meditate in the classroom. On Monday morning the hallway was also quiet and so the stillness prevailed from inside and out.

My switch class came for fourth period and with only one period it was a slightly shorter meditation, and as is generally the case with my switch class, it was quiet enough, but not quite still or silent. Student 2 was annoying, trying to call the attention of his friends, but was silenced with a look. And, as is also the case with my switch class, we have a routine and on Monday it brought another mostly peaceful start to our day and week together.

Tuesday, April 25

Another Day 2 and another crazy Tuesday. This morning we welcomed our first of two high school volunteers in my classroom, a grade 12 student, who I taught when he was in grade 7, and has grown into a smart, strong, young man, learning that the consequences to the choices we make in life get more serious as we grow older. He spent the first two periods getting to know students as they worked on their Exploratory projects, and then played games while the others were in choir.

After break, during period 3, Mr. Y offered an opportunity to rewrite one Math test from the previous unit if they were unhappy with their marks. About half of the students from both classes chose to do the rewrite, while the rest gathered in my room. It was an unusual event and strange for both classes, many sitting with their friends, others thrown off a little when they didn't have their usual seats. As break ended, everyone was pretty excited and loud.

Though they settled pretty quickly the room was still loud, and while I had intended to wait until the afternoon to meditate in the library, I decided we should take the time right away. As I told them, even though we would do it again later, it certainly wouldn't hurt to take the time in the moment. As soon as I said it, my volunteer, who had been in grade 7 five years ago, stated how he missed meditating. He was surprised I was still using the same music and that my old music player still works. He was happy to settle into my chair and join in the meditation.

With the different mix of students, and especially the displacement of Student A from his seat to the one beside his "buddy," the boy he likes to bother, I was a little concerned about how it would go, but as I turned off the lights and started the music, quiet washed over the room, and I was instantly grateful I had made the choice to take the time to breathe.

I moved through the prompts, breath count and focused breath, encouraging them to inhale their calm and exhale their excess, hyper energy, and just about everyone relaxed into the quiet. Student A had the Minecraft figures he had crafted and was playing with them, attempting to poke his buddy, but stopped when I moved to stand behind him. He settled for a few moments, but not long enough to allow me to sit down and join in the silence. Instead I stood behind him, and closed my eyes as I took a few breaths before the track ended.

Once again it was not a perfect meditation, but it was quiet enough, and it set the tone for a mostly peaceful period to follow. I was glad I made the choice to take the time to breathe. It is amazing how easy is it to forget that it is always the best choice.

Immediately after lunch, I got the call from my grade 8 immersion class inviting me to join them and I was very happy to oblige. They were chatting as I arrived, but it only took a moment before they quieted, with no prompts beyond setting the lights and music. As we began the meditation, I commented on how much I appreciated being there, especially as they were so ready whenever I arrived.

We began as we always do, connecting with Treaty 1 Territory land and those who came before us, and I remarked that I hoped after our Treaty Day Celebrations next week that they would gain an even deeper understanding as to what that means and why we do it every time. Then I moved through the rest of the prompts, breath count and focused breath, encouraging them to find what they need as they breathed.

We moved into the silence and I sat down and joined them, marvelling at the absolute stillness and quiet in the room. I was grateful for the peace and the opportunity to both facilitate it, and be a part of it. It's different when they are not my students, and it a way it is even sweeter.

As the track ended I lingered in the silence for a couple of breaths before I broke it and encouraged them to return to the room gently. I opened the blinds to let in the light, another benefit of a different classroom. It was very quiet as they came back, and very peaceful. The room felt different than it had when I arrived just 10 minutes earlier.

Before I left I reminded them any bodily sensations may be natural, as are none at all. I asked them if anyone had anything they wanted to share with me, and reassured their blank faces that it was okay if they didn't, and maybe one day they would. Then I thanked them for having me, noting that this was probably the most peaceful 7 minutes of my day. They thanked me as I left them to continue their day and I went on with my afternoon.

After break, both classes came to the library, and has become the norm there, everyone got comfortable at the tables, computers, and a bunch of students, boys and girls from both classes, piled together some beanbag chairs and piled on them. Before we began I reminded them I expected silence even if they chose to sit in what could not be comfortable positions, and once again they lived up to their assurances they could do it.

We had a lot left to do, half had already meditated in the morning, and I still don't have good speakers for the library, so I chose a quick, five minute track. It was another good choice for meditating. It was short and sweet. I moved through the usual prompts and encouraged them to take the time to breathe and make the most of the last hour of the day.

The last minutes went quickly, as I took a seat in the middle of the library and joined in the silence, as did the rest of the afternoon, to end another crazy Tuesday- our last crazy Tuesday in April.

Here's to looking forward to what Wednesday will bring....and to getting some sleep before it comes.

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