Students use feeling faces to indicate how they are feeling.

The start of a new calendar year brings with it the opportunity to make some changes in your classroom.  You may have rearranged your students’ desks, created a new bulletin board, or developed a new interest center that supports a new unit of study.  Starting fresh in the new year always feels good and generates renewed interest in learning.  There’s another change I’d  like to suggest that will help to bring awareness to the state-of-being of your students.  What is it?  It’s a How do you feel? chart.

The nation is in mourning.  The recent loss of 20 children and 6 adults is unfathomable.  How could such a thing happen?  Those of us left are at a loss for words to express the overwhelming grief and compassion we feel for the families of the victims and the community of Newtown, Connecticut.  We each relate to the families and community in our own personal way:  as a mother or father, a sister or brother, a grandmother or grandfather, an aunt or uncle, a teacher, a police officer, a fire fighter, or even as one who has experienced a loss of life too, though in a different way.  Our hearts ache, and we want to be of some help, some support.  But what can we do?

Sandy with hands over heart

“It’s all about the heart.”  Those words came to me some years ago during a meditation.  At the time, I felt it meant that one should live and act from the heart.  Be kind, caring, helpful to those in one’s life.  Now, some years later, I have come to know that there is a greater, deeper meaning to those words.

I am doing WIII at Ogonquit beach in Maine.

Balancing yoga postures have never been the easiest postures for me, but I was drawn to try Warrior III while at Ogonquit Beach in Ogonquit, Maine just to see if I could hold the posture with sand, sea, and breeze beneath and around me.   I was standing on pretty firm sand but my foot was sinking in a bit, requiring some micro movements to establish a secure foundation.  A slight breeze swept over me.   The waves were rolling in to shore reaching my feet when stronger surges rolled in.  My balancing foot had to be firmly rooted so that I wouldn’t be distracted by the sea washing over it.  My mind needed to be focused on the execution of the posture.  My weight had to be forward just the right amount, so that my body was parallel to the beach.  Extension through my fingers and back foot required focus and concentration as I held this posture.  My breath supported me in expressing Warrior III to its fullest for that day.   Staying balanced took stability, a firm foundation, suppoortive breathing, and focus as the forces of nature, my mind, and emotions swirled around and within me.

Be Prepared.  How many times have you heard that?  Maybe you first heard that phrase as a girl scout or boy scout, or perhaps, from your mother or father when a child, who heard it from their scout leader.  I would guess that phrase goes back even further in time.   ‘Be prepared’ is very appropriate with the new school year here.  Children are often uneasy, even anxious, about starting a new grade with a new teacher.  Questions swirl in their heads:  Will my friends be in my class?  Will my new teacher like me?  Will I like my new teacher?  How strict will he/she be?  Will I be able to do the math?  How much homework will I have?   There may be any other number of other concerns about the new year as well.  So how can your children be prepared for the new school year?

crane walking

Have you ever watched a crane, egret or heron walk?  They are very slow and deliberate with each step that they take. (See  egret pictured above.)  Each foot touches the earth or the water bottom with strong softness.  The strength lies in their long, thin legs that support their seemingly top-heavy  bodies.   They place each foot with an exactness and lightness that allows them quiet hunting.  Perhaps there are times when the way of crane would benefit each of us.  For instance . . .

These mallards are swimming on Pickerel Pond.

Having been home from my time in Florida for a month now, I find that I really appreciate the forced slow-down I had while there.  I appreciate it even more now that I am back into my usual, busyness.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being busy, doing my work, but I recognize that slowing down is good for my body, mind, emotions, and soul.  Now, I must intentionally take slow-down breaks for myself so that I can maintain harmonious balance.

Sandy wearing headphones for interview

Yes, Creating the Peaceable Classroom:  A 21st Century Wellness Guide for Teachers, Students and Parents goes to the air-waves!  Whoever would have guessed?  It’s a new and exciting venue for me.  I’ll be ready to go with my headset on and my thoughts in place to let you know what I feel is important for ourselves and the children in our care in whatever capacity that may be  i.e. as  teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, counselors, day-care workers, school nurses, and psychologists.

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