Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bliss before I fly

Inhale, two, three, four,

It was a blissful
five and a half minutes
first thing in the morning
with my homeroom

Hold, two

The music played
and the room
was completely
and totally

Exhale, two, three, four

When we were done
I told them
how brilliant it was
and how much
they are
this year,
both my newbies
and my veterans,
some of whom
are like different kids,
especially Student 1,
though that was
in a private message.

Inhale, two, three, four

I also spoke briefly
about the word
and the nature of
which allows us
to connect with
our inner selves,
a spiritual practice.
Then we got to
and writing
our 6 word memoirs.

Hold, two,

My switch class came
after break.
Though not as
or silent
as the class before,
they were improved,

Exhale, two, three, four

Student B was excited
he was leaving
for a concert
in the afternoon.
In the morning
he was bursting
with energy
and had trouble
containing himself.

Inhale, two, three, four

Before we began
I spoke again of power
and the power
we have
to control
and how
in the end,
that is really
all the power
we have.

Hold, two

I told a story
of a student,
with various challenges,
both physical
and intellectual,
and his inability
to control himself,
and the sounds
he made.

Exhale, two, three, four,

For two years,
he was in my classroom,
and participated in
meditations daily,
rocking in his chair,
often bouncing his head
against my belly.
sometimes making noise,
sometime being quiet.
He had no power.

Inhale, two, three, four

I reminded Student B,
and everyone else,
they have the power
to make choices
for themselves,
even if someone else
is making noise.

Hold, two

And so we began,
and he was quiet
for awhile,
but was overcome
with the need
to make noise
near the end.

Exhale, two, three, four

He quieted again
when I stood
beside him,
and I reminded him again
of his power
when we were done.

Inhale, two, three, four

As demanding as
he is,
and annoying as
the noise and
are to me,
and others,
it will help
the other students
for others,
as they will
they can feel
and yet
as the noise
and distration
bother them
less and less.

Hold, two

Big thoughts,
too late at night,
on the eve of
the conference
I am attending

Exhale, two, three, four

Getting ready to fly
but feeling the need
to document
the feeling
of the day.
How strange,
and quick,
and for now,

I'll be away from my classroom until Tuesday, but will write about the conference (I have to do it anyway) and my presentation and the meditations we do.

All the best and thanks for reading 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

One for Tuesday

The first Day 6
of the cycle.
My kids go to TAA,
and I finally have some
prep time,
to get stuff done.
And the computers are down.

I can't do
I need to get done,
so I do
a bunch of other stuff.

But it throws
the whole day off.

My switch class comes,
settling relatively quickly,
considering they just had
TAA in the morning
for the first time.

Student A sits down,
ready to go.
He is a different kid
than last year,
even if it might
not last.
I'll take
what I can get.
And keep reminding him
how awesome he is
and what good choices
he is making.

Student B gets comfortable
in his seat
beside me,
and asks
if we will
meditate again

I tell him we will
today and
every day.

I take the opportunity
to invite my students,
especially my experienced ones,
to consider
leading meditations,
while I am away at
my conference
later this week.

I have a few
conferences and
coming up,
and with the High Holidays,
I will be away
quite a bit in
and early October.
I remind them
they will have
many chances
and encourage them
to take them.

On that note,
we begin,
lights dimmed,
music on,
inhale, two, three, four,
hold, two,
exhale, two, three, four.
They are getting
used to it.

Most put their
heads down,
including Student A,
happy to relax,
and breathe,
for a minute,
or five.

Student B started out
or calm,
less restless,
more settled.

But a blip
in the music
from a glitch
on the Ipad
distracted him,
and caused him
to bleep,
that was the noise
he made,
a few times,
before I reached
his side,
and asked him,
he would give
a machine
such power
over him?

I reminded him,
and everyone,
that they held
their power
in their breath,
and no one,
or nothing,
could take it away,
unless they
allowed it.
And that they
deserved better.

As I spoke,
I lost the count,
but it didn't matter.
I told them that,
and reminded them
to breathe naturally,
and a few moments later,
the track was done.

I closed
the meditation
and started
the class.

It, and the rest
of the day
flew by.

Exploratory outside
with all the grade 8's,
a walk to the park
on a beautiful day,
and with the computers down,
what else could we do?

After lunch,
my switch class
came back
for our first
French class.

About 20 minutes in
Student B said
he wanted to
meditate again.
Almost half
indicated they'd
but it didn't seem
to flow
in the moment.
But definitely
next time,
I told him.

After break,
was French again.
But this year
is different.
I still have
my homeroom,
but I am also
with the third
grade 8 teacher
in the row
of portables.

He has been
teaching for
over 15 years,
but was never
to teach
French before.

Though it is
to teach,
and work with,
large groups,
it is different
to have
two classes
for French.
It will be
but interesting,
and strange,
and different.

it was so
and different
I didn't even
my homeroom hadn't
that day.

I knew
was off,
but I thought
it was the whole

none of my students
said anything.
I wonder
if they
and will
ask them

The class
went okay,
for a first
French class,
with 48 kids
in a room,
more than half
of whom
have no
in learning
and a third,
who are still

An old story,
part of the
of education.

At least next time,
I will know
what is off
and be sure
we meditate
at the end of the day,
before French
with both classes
on Day 6.

At least,
we spent the
last 15 minutes

And, once again,
is another day.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Off and Running- Friday, Monday

First Friday morning
time already flying by. 
Week one nearly done.

My homeroom settles,
getting used to the routine.
Finding what they need.

Lights dim, music on,
nearly all their heads go down,
straight backs didn't last long.

But the silence stays,
peace washes over the room
everyone is still.

Inhale, two, three, four,
Hold, two. Exhale, two, three, four,
again and again.

Five minutes and change
goes by quickly, leaving me
grateful and at peace.

Slowly they come back
their awareness returning
ready for the day.

In class, some sharing
easing into our learning
practicing our skills.

My switch class comes next
settling into their seats
getting used to things.

Student B sits down,
arranging his pad and pens,
preparing himself.

Student A gets set
his buddy at his table,
and Pringles to eat.

Again, I prepare,
lights off, music on. "Be still,
if you can," I say.

Student B improves
drawing, but not bothering
others. I can move.

Student A needs me
to remind him, food can wait. 
He knows that I'm right.

Both calm, with the rest,
more or less. It still feels weird
for some new students.

Inhale, two, three, four,
Hold, two. Exhale, two, three, four,
again and again.

Five minutes and change,
not as smooth as the first class,
but still over fast.

Then we start writing
first pieces- Six Word Memoirs
something all can write 


Just like that, Monday
arrives. First up, my switch class,
calmer in the morn.

Student B moves spots,
where he has more space, and the
support he requires.

He settles quickly, 
with Student A and the rest.
Everyone is calm.

Still the first Monday
most happy to lay their heads,
they are still tired.

Inhale, two, three, four,
Hold, two. Exhale, two, three, four,
again and again.

Five minutes and change,
this morning it goes better,
which I let them know.

Then the day begins
continuing our writing
picking up our pace.

My homeroom returns,
second nature already,
they settle quickly.

Inhale, two, three, four,
Hold, two. Exhale, two, three, four,
again and again.

Five minutes and change,
I appreciate the peace,
relax in the calm.

Then we get a start
writing, before the "Welcome 
Back" assembly starts.

The afternoon brings
the two classes together.
Time to mark today

It was not perfect 
the METTA meditation 
in the afternoon

But it's important,
it's September Eleventh,
and experience.

Twelve minutes or so,
extending our compassion
and kindness beyond

It is challenging
for some, especially those
who are new to it

Student B goes out,
it is all too much for him.
He spends time outside

Two boys keep talking
I stand behind them, or else,
they just keep talking.

Last year's giggly boy
needs a reminder, as do
a couple others.

they still, like Student A has
been the entire time.

The meditation 
ends with a minute of thanks
and almost silence.

I am not quite sure
it was worth it. But I don't
tell my students that.

Instead, I speak of
power, and what they give up
without noticing.

And that, for the first,
long meditation, they did
fairly well that day.

So another day 
came to an end. Tomorrow,
we'll do it again.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Return Again Day 1

Inhale, two, three, four,

Here we go again,
another year,
another first day of school,
another new beginning.
but the same.

Hold, two,

The jump to grade 8,
with many of the same
beautiful faces,
most happy to be back,
to see their friends,
and even me,
a little.
To begin
the continuation
of  our learning

Exhale, two, three, four

The same,
but different.
Familiar students,
in a new classroom,
out in the portables.
A bigger room,
with space to move,
and lots of storage,
but literally a portable classroom,
one in a row of six,
in back of the school,
with an outdoor hallway,
and a giant field,
out the back door,
as the extension of our classroom

Only three classrooms
all by grade 8 classes,
a huge advantage in the
spring and fall,
but a real bitch,
in the winter,
especially when I have to
go to the bathroom.

Inhale, two, three, four

The day begins,
my new homeroom
a mix of kids
from last year's classes,
peppered with a few from across
the hall
and one new arrival,
a transfer from another school
with a friend in the room.

I am happy
to see them all,
and catch up with those
who didn't make it
to orientation meetings.

Hold, two

Students are excited
as they settle
into their chosen seats,
in their new classroom,
but also nervous,
about the day
and the year
to come,
and tired,
from going to bed late,
not used to getting up
so early
after the summer months.
I can relate.

Exhale, two, three, four

After O Canada and announcements,
but before anything else,
before organizing
supplies and lockers,
even before
we pause
and take five and a half minutes
to meditate.

Inhale, two, three, four

They know what to expect,
even those
who weren't in my class
last year.
But we review
for the experienced,
and the new arrivals,
because it is a practice,
the very nature,
of meditation.

Hold, two

They are more willing
to answer my questions.
Why do we meditate?
To relax,
to focus,
to breathe.
To bring our attention
to a single
I remind them.

Exhale two, three, four

I encourage them
to sit up
in their chairs,
even if they didn't
last year,
or only do it,
for a few days.

Inhale, two, three, four

I challenge them
to open themselves
to going deeper
into their
and really try
to follow
the breath count,
I will use,
for at least
the first couple of weeks.

Hold, two

And so we are ready
to begin.
I turn off the lights
but the room
is not dark,
just dimmed,
with the natural light,
from the big windows.
I start the music,
the students are quiet
and still,
even Student 1,
who has returned to me,
this time in my homeroom.
The same,
but different.

Exhale, two, three, four

The five and a half minutes
pass quickly,
as I speak through it,
first welcoming them to
Grade 8,
a new year,
a new space,
a fresh start.

Inhale, two, three, four

I guide them through
the prompts,
familiar to many,
first planting our feet flat,
on Treaty 1 Territory Land,
connecting with
the land,
those who came before us,
and the Treaty we honour

Hold, two

Then straightening our backs,
while relaxing our bodies,
and finally,
closing our eyes.
About half,
in different parts of the room,
sitting straight in their seats,
the rest
putting their heads down,
all settling.
Silent, beyond the sound of my voice,
and the quiet music
in the background.

Exhale, two, three, four

Silent as I walk
around the room,
Inhale, two, three, four,
Hold, two,
Exhale, two, three, four,
over and over,
for the length
of the track.
Enjoying the familiar feeling,
the quiet,
the peace,
and the comfort of the classroom.
but the same.

Inhale, two, three, four

As the track ends,
I turn off the music,
and gently bring their awareness
back to the classroom.
I remind them
to notice how they feel,
and that their feelings,
or sensations,
during their practice,
are natural,
as are having none at all.
I encourage them
to simply pay attention
to how they feel.

Hold, two

I also invite them
to share
any feelings, ideas
or their experience,
but as is the norm,
they say nothing.
I pause to give them
the chance
to respond,
just long enough
so the silence is
and it is clear
I really want
a response.
Then I laugh,
because I am not surprised,
and their silence
is funny,
and we continue
with the business
of the day.
It is the first day,
and it already feels,
as though we never left.

Exhale, two, three, four

After break,
my switch class arrives,
as once again,
I share my class
with a teaching partner, Mr. E,
I am lucky,
to have two great partners.
His homeroom,
my switch class,
is also made up,
of many of my grade 7 students
from both classes,
with whom I am very happy
to be working again
including Student A,
who has grown so much,
and a few other boys,
whose letters' I don't remember
from last year,
and so we will see
how they appear this year.

Inhale, two, three, four,

This class has a few
random students,
one from another school,
another, one lone student,
a girl,
the only from one of the grade 7 classrooms,
who I imagine was the
casualty of a switch
that had to made to support
another student,
and who I also imagine,
will do fine in the end.

Hold, two

Among the boys
from another grade 7 class,
is also a boy
with high needs,
and many challenges,
academic, social
and behaviour issues,
through no fault of his own,
simply no impulse control.
We have a relationship,
this student, Student B,
in my switch class,
a good rapport
from last year,
though this is the first time
he is in my class.

Exhale, two, three, four

I knew what I was getting into,
as much as that's possible,
with students like Student B,
but it was evident within moments
of his arrival,
and the beginning of the class,
that he is very needy,
and will be extremely demanding,
even more than Student A,
who had an excellent start.

Inhale, two, three, four

I went through the same introduction
and explanation
as I had
earlier that morning.
Student A,
and his buddy,
who was in the other class last year,
settled quickly,
participated in the discussion,
and only needed a shh or two
to stay  focused.
But Student B,
had a harder time,
ripping up paper,
poking the people around him,
and fidgeting in his chair.
In the other class,
he has a rocking chair,
and a stool,
which we brought
to my room.

Hold, two

It helped a little,
but not enough,
to help him be quiet,
as I turned off the lights
and started the music.
I immediately stood behind him
as I welcomed the class
to grade 8
and their first meditation of the year.
Employing the
rule of proximity,
I didn't move for the rest
of the meditation.

Exhale, two, three, four

Standing behind Student B,
I guided them through the prompts,
as I had earlier that morning,
and noted Student A,
sitting up straight,
hands fold on the desk in front of him,
with his eyes closed.
I he remained that way,
focused on his breath
throughout the meditation.
The EA,
who is working with them both
again this year- bless his soul-
and I caught eyes,
and took delight,
in his focus,
and growth.
Even if it doesn't
last long,
the intention is there,
and he will keep growing.

Inhale, two, three, four

I was also very grateful,
as Student B clearly needed me.
A few minutes in,
I tried to move away from him,
and began to circle the room,
but within seconds,
he was poking the boy
beside him.
And so I stood behind him,
encouraging him to relax,
and allowing him to be
I think it worked
a little,
for the first day.
At least,
he didn't bother
everybody else.

Hold, two

And so the five and a half minutes
passed much more slowly
than in the previous class,
but in the end,
it is only five and a half minutes.
No big surprise,
that no one in my switch class
took me up on the invitation
to share
anything either,
but it was good start,
good enough anyway.

Exhale, two, three, four

The first meditations
of the year,
on another first day
in grade 8,
are not a first.
But this is
the first time,
I have ever
written a poem
about them.

The same, but different.
Different, but the same.