In my last post I mentioned that things had taken some fairly meaty twists and turns. I had worked really hard at setting up my own little business - Miss Honey On A Mission, which was marvellous and all very exciting. I then ended up being spat out of that phase of my life to somewhere entirely different. My main priority at that time was to make enough money to live and ended up supply teaching for a while, which was a real treat to behold. The things I have seen. The things I have heard. *shudder*
I ended up finding a job in a big, academy school in a 'underprivileged' area. My predecessor left the class half way through a term because of 'illness'. It later transpires that teacher left because the class were in honesty, bloody hard work. Year 2, 31 kids, 19 on the pupil premium register, in a mobile classroom, with no resources and a TA till 11.30am. They had had several different supply teachers in a short space of time, no routine, no consistent boundaries; needless to say when I arrived they were MENTAL. Absolutely mental. In an ideal world I hoped to supply a few days a week whilst getting the business off the ground, however after meeting these little guys I felt so desperately for them that I decided to dive in and embrace teaching again for 4 days a week.
|Lord give me strength.|
I see this as the Whoopi phase of my life, where in true Sister Act 2 style I am determined to transform the little herberts and give them a chance. (To the All State Music Competition!) I'm delighted to report that 6 months on, it's working. I saw the opportunity to use all the mindfulness and meditation techniques in full force with an entire class of children. More than anything these guys needed some down time and discipline. For a lot of them I know i'm the only constant in their lives, so even though there have been moments where I want to lie face down in the sandpit - I am hellbent on making it a positive experience for them.
Straight away we implemented 'relax' moments three times a day; as soon as they come in to school, after play time and after lunch. These are the moments where they most need it. For those of you that haven't experienced it, the playground is practically a jungle of death. Chaos beyond all measure, fighting, biting, screaming, crying, cold, rain, kiss chase, bull dog... 'BUT SHE'S BEEN ON THE CLIMBING FRAME FOR AGES FOR AGES AND IT'S MY TURN'.
To begin with it was a total shambles, about 3 of them could stand still and none of them could close their eyes. The lack of trust was unreal - it was as though they were afraid of being attacked if they shut down their senses for a moment. I explained to them that they have a little wise owl in their heads that decides what they are doing. They also have a big box in their heads that stores all the information they need, all their memories and learning stuffs. I have told the children that if the little wise owl is in a flap, he can't access that box of learning - but if we teach the owl how to chill out, then everyone can learn, everyone is happy, everyone is chilled. (There is scientific reasoning behind the wise owl madness, however I shan't bore you with it now.) All the kids fully embraced this and began talking about whether their wise owls were chilled or not - and how it was affecting them. Essentially, that's 6 year olds being mindful.
The turning point for me was when a little boy with severe learning difficulties said to me 'Miss, can I do the relax?' So he stood at the front of the class, and led his friends through some stretches and breathing exercises. He has a massive lisp, we could barely understand what he was saying, but it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. This child was constantly in fights, socially very awkward and yet there he was leading his class to a calmer place. Now the children take it turns to lead the 'relax' and it's wonderful.
Of course we are a SATS year group so the pressure is on, but these children all recognise now how to get into a good place. There are some children who are never going to get the grade but, they will hopefully go through school and beyond knowing how to look after themselves a little better. We now have a full hour on a Tuesday of full mindfulness and meditation sessions. Stretching, affirmations, massage, the lot. They absolutely love it. Behaviour in that class has improved beyond all my expectations, their results and progress are getting better by the week. They are living proof that mindfulness has a positive impact in every area of a child's life. One little girl who has an extremely hard life at home wrote me a letter to me that said,
Thank for teaching me to breathe and go somewhere different in my head. When people are shouting I close my eyes and turn into Peter Pan and then I take over the world."
When I arrived at the school I said I would stay until the wind changes. (Mary Poppins.) I have sung "If you want to be somebody, if you want to go somewhere, you better wake up and pay attention" (Sister Mary Clarence/Whoopi) Next I am aiming for some Maria of off Sound of Music action. I WILL LIVE THE DREAM.
I am confident when I leave I will have hopefully made a difference to those children, so i'm happy with that.