As an educator I have learned that there's nothing quite like those teachable moments. The lesson is planned and organized, the topic has been introduced to the students, and then... something happens that pretty much tosses the lesson plan out the window, but, can you believe it?... just brings your point home.
It wasn't on my agenda, I didn't know it was going to happen, it brought a bit of chaos to the classroom, and it was the one time in my teaching career when I was appreciative of a child throwing up during class!
Teaching some first graders a lesson from the Mindful Schools curriculum, students are asked to associate what they feel in their bodies in the same moment as any strong emotion occurs. Not easy stuff for a lot of people. Think about it. How does it feel in your body when you are happy? When your feelings are hurt? The object of the lesson is for students to notice how they hold those strong emotions in their bodies. The long-term goal is for students, once they are able to notice how their bodies are reacting, to eventually have more control over themselves, turning knee-jerk reactions into more thoughtful responses.
Were any of the children able, at this young age, to notice how their bodies were feeling? Absolutely!
- I was sitting in the dentist chair and I noticed my stomach felt funny and my legs were kind of shaking. I was nervous!
Not all students could feel how their bodies were reacting, and the ones who couldn't were looking at the rest of us like, Really?... when... SPLAT! A STUDENT THREW UP!
The teacher removed the sick child from the area while I rushed the remaining students to the far side of the room. Holy moly! A teachable moment!! Trust me when I tell you, every child in that class knew exactly how his or her body was feeling in that moment!
- Oh, he threw up! I think I'm going to get sick, too!
Yes, Billy threw up. Yes, there was chaos. And, yes, best of all, students had a real opportunity to notice how their bodies were feeling in that exact moment, and use the strategies we've been learning to respond thoughtfully, bringing them back to a place of calm.
What an awesome teaching session!!
Have a great week. And don't forget to look for the teachable moments!
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