I’m sure everyone knows that we have been struggling with some teasing and frustration that has had us all feeling sad and upset. I almost expect for these types of behaviors, even though developmentally appropriate, to only happen outside of the colorful doors of Community School but alas ’twas not the case and of course cannot be expected to be the case. But what makes Community School different is the amount of energy and compassion taken to remedy the situation.
First we started by having meetings – everyday we had meetings, everyday we talked and talked about what was happening, why it might be happening, how EVERYONE felt about it and what we were going to do as a community to stop it from happening. We talked about what community means to all of us, we talked about how we all want to be treated and we talked about consequences.
While we were having these discussions, I was reading and thinking and crying and figuring out how I could change the environment to help and defuse the situation. Because when it comes down to it, it’s not the kids, it’s not the teachers, it’s the environment itself.
So, feeling that the Big Yard (where most of the teasing was going on) just wasn’t quite challenging enough for our bigger, more experienced bodies, we opened the hill for adventure. For our age group, it is safe, yet challenging and a little scary, which brings out cooperation with hands extended in assistance, in balance and in adventure. The force to be reckoned with becomes the hill itself, the struggle to stay upright on a slant, the Scotts Broom that stands in the way – not each other. The challenge isn’t to go after one another but to work together to solve a problem, to scale a mountain, to investigate the unknown.
Then I decided starting the day inside brought a calmer mood to the beginning of our day. I have never began a day outside but since we don’t end outside, we decided to try it. It didn’t work for me or for the kids. So instead of starting with running and tackling, we start at circle with Yoga. I have introduced many new Yoga positions that include sunrise/sunset, star, mountain, tree, eagle as well as a five count breathing exercise in Lotus position that can be used at anytime during the day when feeling upset, frustrated or in the need of a bit of inner peace. We OM together and when we are really in-sync, we are one voice singing to the universe our inner peace and calm.
We also have been revisiting Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s lives and work (they were hugely important to us in our studies last year.) They are both an inspiration to us all. The kids are enthralled when I read about them and we have had many discussions about how to live a non-violent, peaceful life that leads us to make change and think about other people’s struggles.
The last two weeks have been a different experience for all of us. It may partially have been that we just needed a longer time to settle into this new space but I’m relieved that we took steps to insure that the environment changed and that we were thinking about new ways of being with each other.