Tag: gratitude

Grateful for Our Circle

Our school year began on a Tuesday. We had four days together that first week, students and me. Four days.

I am a Grad Coach this year. I have my own program and many new faces alongside me everyday. The structure and design of our classes and days is different than my previous years in my school and in an Student Support role.

We began with four days. Students are with me to achieve a credit and to get the necessary supports to graduate on time.

By that first Friday things were messy. Our structure was too loose, our focus a bit too sloppy, our sense of belonging dangled on the edge.

I returned Monday and tried again. Nope.

I was not lacking the effort.

I was lacking sharing hope.

We were lacking our belonging space.

Period two Monday, I pulled the tables together. I gathered the container of rocks.

The students arrived. I asked them to join me at circle. I let them know they could return to their treasured place in the room once we had finished.

Then we defined Gratitude.

We talked of thankfulness. We talked of being grateful for coffee, food, our home, grandparents, friends, school.

I held the jar and took a rock. We each took one rock. The rock wasn’t important. The rocks determine our turn. Once we set our rocks in front of us on the table, our turn is completed. We speak in the order determined by the rocks, not clockwise, not by order or by age, but by rock feel.

From here we shared our gratitude.

In our class, we don’t do much if it doesn’t have a purpose, a curricular link. And I show students the wheres and the hows upfront. And so I did the same with gratitude.

“This week, all we are going to do is share our gratitude. I may ask why and I may not. Next week I will share a rubric and share how you will be assessed on your sharing.”

And then the rocks began to be placed. Grateful for buffalo ranching, for friends, for second chances, for home.

Just like that.

By Tuesday they had it.

By Thursday students had their favourite rocks. They began to ask after the whys, and I followed with the hows.

By Friday we pulled to circle with coffees and peanut butter sandwiches, like we had been here always. And waited. Gratitude too is hard. A student sat in tears, clutching his rock. We waited. We stayed in circle.

See. It is the circle that is sacred, that supports. That is hope.

Years ago I was teaching at an alternate school. My principal had lost her son. She returned to work two weeks later and, sitting around our sharing circle, held a rock, the word gratitude etched on one side.

“Find gratitude each day,” she had said.

That was the year dad had had the stroke. And I had ached for my chance to hold the rock. To feel safe and to cry.

So Friday we sat. Together. Together. And soon someone offered hope. Tears are welcome. “I am grateful our circle is safe.”

And a smile.

Week two.

I am grateful for our circle.

Advertisements

Spirit of Gratitude

It has been a stressful three weeks. I have been worried about my students, and let’s face it, I have been angry with them too. And almost everyone in our learning space has felt it. There have been moments when I have been inclined to punish my students by yanking their privileges. That would have been easy and spiteful and would have made me feel good in the short term.

The week ending October 21, I wanted to cancel our division wide Open Mic event. I wanted to pull the plug on a performance event for my group of students. Recently one of my kids said I did not look upset that Friday. That was easy, I was entertained. I got to listen to my kids step-up and succeed, and I got to spend some time with former students. But, oh you bet, inside, I was still stinging.

It has been a stressful three weeks.

We have all felt it.

This week, we had simply had enough.

It is exhausting being angry.

But I had some ideas on how to begin to mend.

I shared in my journal, then with my principal. Then, Tuesday I asked every student I teach to reflect, to meaningfully reflect, about how I could better meet their learning needs. As well, I asked every student I teach about how they could better meet their own learning needs.

Most kids spent 60 minutes answering the first question…

I went home at the end of the day angry and, well, selfish.

Oh, I sure understood that I wanted to react. I wanted to jump into the class the next day and tell my kids all the ways they have not been meeting my needs. I wanted to behave poorly. Really, really poorly.

But, I’ve been self-managing my happiness for a while now. And peace is more valuable than reaction.

So, last night as I attended an after school meeting, I listened to the people on the other side of the table share about the people, places and things in their lives for which they are grateful.  It was the weirdest after school meeting I have ever attended; I sat and I cried. I remembered that I love being an educator.

I went home and called my mom (the sound voice of motherly reason, the grandmother extraordinaire and a retired Director of Education). I shared my desire to be selfish and, I too, shared that the spark to respond went against my nature and my philosophy.

I love being an educator.

“Cori, what is your gut telling you?”

~

I cried. I wrote in my journal. I bbm-ed my principal. Then, I tried to sleep.

This morning, second period, with my principal in the room, I had each student and my principal write their name on a piece of paper. I turned the pieces upside down, shuffled them and then set them aside for a moment. Then, I told my students a few true stories. I told them stories of how I had come to find respect and trust in our learning space. I thanked my principal and asked her to step out. Then, slowly, with honesty and love, I drew one piece of paper at a time. Slow, as I read each name in turn, I thanked each student for the gifts they have offered me over the last 9 weeks. We cried. And we spent the rest of the day laughing, awash in tears, gratitude and reflection.

I love being an educator.