Sunday, April 23, 2017

Time Getting Away From Me- The Third Week in April

I can't let another week get away from me, though much like my students, as the days get longer and activities ramp up, at the end of the day, I don't feel much like writing. It is easy to get off the writing track and lose motivation. But as I say to my students, "Suck it up Buttercup," and so I have committed to one hour of writing to get back in the swing and capture highlights of the week's meditations, because time is going very quickly, and soon there will be no more year left to capture.

It was a short week, the week of April 17th to April 20th, with only four days and several large groups, there were fewer meditations and none during PD on Friday. Here are some highlights.

Monday, April 17th

The week began with a Day 2 and I decided to wait until the library in the afternoon to meditate as the morning was already hectic, with one short period for each class to read our novel. I wanted to make the most of all of our time, and the morning reading went smoothly as just about everyone is really engaged in our novel.

Before I met both classes in the library after break in the afternoon, I was invited back to the grade 8 immersion class immediately after lunch, when I have my prep time. I have been told that the students like my guidance and the way I talk through the first part of the meditation. I am always honoured to be asked back.

When I arrived they were a bit chatty, even as I set up the music and dimmed the lights. Even though I hadn't been there is a few weeks, I didn't offer much instruction, but asked if they had any questions, and when there were none, I started the music and the meditation.

As the six minute track began, I wasn't sure if they would need more direction to be quiet as there were a few final whispers here and there. But within a few seconds of beginning the prompts and welcoming them to their time to breathe, there was a stillness that washed over the room and silence filled the air. The room was very peaceful as I guided them through the prompts, breath counts and focused breathing, inviting them to find when what they need and grow it as they inhale, and then exhale the blocks that get in their way.

We moved into the silence and I sat down and joined, marveling in the quiet in the room, and how it had taken a moment in the beginning, but ultimately prevailed with no real action on my part, except for making room for the space. I breathed in my gratitude for the time and the invitation to be there.

The minutes passed quickly as they do and I ended the meditation, thanking them for their silence and sharing some of my observations, including how I felt unsure in the beginning as it was a little noisier than usual, which is perhaps because they are more comfortable with my presence, and how grateful I was to feel the silence roll across the room like a wave. It was remarkable and I let them know I was grateful for the opportunity and always happy to be invited to their classroom. When no one had any further comments to share, I wished them continued peace for the rest of the afternoon and went off to the rest of mine.

Both of my classes came to the library after break and it didn't take long for everyone to get comfortable, with groups of kids in corners on the floor and piled on the beanbag chairs. I debated whether they needed to move aloud, and they assured me they were all fine and could enjoy the stillness and silence, even if they were practically piled on top of each other in some cases.

I took them at their word, turned off the lights, set the music and started the meditation as always. I guess everyone needed the break on that Monday afternoon as the library was quiet from beginning to end. Reflecting their comfort with each other, and their respect and appreciation for the time, even the kids piled on the beanbags were still and silent.

As I moved through all the usual prompts, breath count and focused breathing, there was no need to redirect behaviour, or stand in any particular place, as everyone was still and silent. As I finished the guided part of the meditation, I took a chair in the middle of the library and sat down to breathe. Before I closed my eyes, I looked around at everyone, heads down where they could be and eyes closed in other places, relaxed and enjoying the moment, and I smiled. It was a good start to the week. I closed my eyes and enjoyed a few moments of peace before they too passed, the track ended, and I closed the meditation so we could finish the day.

Tuesday April 18th

We meditated once on Tuesday, when both classes came together for Social Studies for the last two periods of the morning. As we got settled, students got into the groups they had been working in based on the different parts of the world of the countries of their research projects. We have been continuing our discussions of standards of living, by exploring their perceptions of happiness and everything that entails, in different parts of the world.

Throughout the study we had spent time watching different videos which illustrate life, perspectives and perceptions of happiness and freedoms in different parts of the world. As we started Tuesday, we watched a video which highlighted the connection between our perspectives and attitudes, gratitude, and happiness in our lives, so it was with that focus that we meditated.

Despite the different groups and seating arrangement, it didn't take long for everyone to settle as we began the meditation. I moved through the prompts and breath count, and then I encouraged them to inhale their gratitude for all they have, while exhaling the fears that make us want to focus on what we don't have. I challenged them to breathe and find happiness, health and safety in their breath.

The silence was not perfect, there was some movement, chairs shuffling, a cough or sniffle, but it was quiet and peaceful. It was nice. And as usual, it was quick. Before long the music ended and it was time to end the meditation and continue with the group sharing and the rest of the day.

Wednesday, April 19th

Wednesday was the only day of the week I saw both classes individually in my classroom. I began the day with my class for 1 period of ELA, reading and working with the novel. With a short period, it was a short 5 and a half minute meditation, and it was still and silent from beginning to end.

It took no time for everyone to settle, as first thing in the morning my class is always happy to put their heads down, which they did with little prompting. As we planted our feet flat on Treaty 1 Territory Land I noted this act is becoming even more significant as we continue to read our novel and broaden our understanding of the Treaties and the importance of the land, Then I continued through the usual prompts, breath count, and focused breath, encouraging them to find what they needed for the day ahead.

As we moved into the silence, the room was even quieter than usual. There was no movement at all and it seemed that even the hallway was still. I joined in, noting my gratitude for the peace. The track ended and I lingered in the silence for a few breaths more, sad to break it, but sensing it was time. Time to read and move on with the day. But before I did, I thanked my students for the lovely start and remarked on their growing ability to be still, which is no small feat, and never ceases to amaze me.

It spoils me a little too. My switch class came in the period that followed, and while I used more or less the same words, the feeling can't be replicated and it different with the other group. They are not bad at meditating, and still quiet and pleasant enough, but do not achieve the same level of peace and still my homeroom reaches. It really is something special.

But it doesn't diminish the time with my switch class, which for those 5 and a half minutes was just fine. Not completely still and silent, but quiet enough and just fine. The discussions that followed around the novel were also lively, with many students engaging in the themes and sharing their ideas and opinions willingly, which is also different than my homeroom, from which I often need to prod and pry responses. So there are pros and cons to both rooms and I appreciate them both in very different ways.

Thursday April 20

Thursday was our 7th monthly visit to the Millennium Library, marking the passage of time and the growth of our students from the meditation in the morning, to their behaviour and learning throughout the day. It was a brilliant meditation and a brilliant day.

As usual both classes came together to meditate before we got ready to go. It didn't take long for everyone to settle and I started the 6 and a half minute track, using my iPod because I forgot my iPad at home.

I moved through the usual prompts breath count and focused breath. I encouraged them to inhale what they need and exhale what they do not, as they visualized their day at the library, from the morning, through lunch, and into the afternoon. I invited them to picture the day, time, space and the goals they intended to accomplish as they breathed.

As we moved into the silence, I noted the timer on the iPod read we had exactly three minutes of deep breathing ahead. I also noted the room was particularly still and silent. As I breathed, inhaling my own good energy and releasing my fears for the day, I noticed the room remained very quiet. The peace lasted for the entire 3 minutes and a few breaths beyond as the track ended.

As I closed the meditation, I congratulated them on the exceptional meditation and the new silence I felt we had experienced for the full three minutes. I told them that I didn't know if they felt it was different, but I sure did, and I thought it was a great sign for the day ahead.

Whether it was or not, it was indeed a wonderfully relaxed and enjoyable day at the library and a great way to end a short week.

Now we have another big one ahead as we come to the last week in April. Hard to believe that summer will be here before we know it. But until it arrives, I will try to keep on writing and keep on breathing.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead. Remember to breathe.  

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