May 01, 2017

Being present

After Mass in the Gym this morning, I thought it would be a good idea to address something very important with the boys and girls.  They've reached an age now where they're able to focus for a longer period of time and enjoy listening to others speak and present. But what happens if something gets in the way of that? 

We were a bit short on time, but I think I made my point.  I showed the class the book pictured below and talked about what it means to be "present",  and what happens when someone or something gets in the way of allowing you to be fully present in the moment.  

In addition to talking about what being fully present means and looks like, we explored ways we can advocate for ourselves when there are distractions that prevent us from being present. I'm embarrassed to admit that we didn't actually get to read the book.  I mistakenly thought I had already read it to the class earlier in the year.  That's what happens when you teach the same grade for a hundred years...they all begin to blend together. I'll be sure to read it to the class on Tuesday.   

We looked at situations such as when someone seated near you is being disruptive, or perhaps that someone makes you uncomfortable because they've been unkind to you in the past. We read a story back in September about a boy who said to a classmate, "Give me a dollar or I'll spit on you!". Well, what are you supposed to do if you happen to end up next to that person at an assembly, or a concert? What if you feel anxious or unsafe? How can you feel present in that situation?  We looked at that word: advocate, and explored ways in which you could speak up and make your needs known.  

I explained to the class that it's always okay to approach a teacher or adult and let them know that you have a problem and you need their help.  As much as we encourage children to solve their own problems, sometimes adult intervention is what's best.  We did a bit of role-playing today around what the conversation with the adult might look like.  In some cases, it's quite easy to just pick up and move on your own, without an adult's support, but if you're in an assembly at school, how are you supposed to just get up and ask to sit somewhere else? Well, you just do it. That's what advocating is all about. It's not always easy and it takes a bit of courage, doesn't it? 

More than ever, being present in the moment is essential. And for some, it's a skill they must practice in order to master. And if someone is making it hard for an individual to enjoy, learn, meditate, play, that needs to be addressed. My hope is that our conversation today was a positive step in helping my students understand that advocating for themselves doesn't mean we're tattling or being unkind, it means we are aware of every individual's need for a healthy and safe space.  

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