Saturday, September 26, 2009

Moment of Silence

In a faculty meeting the other day, my friend Tameka said that the moment of silence that we all observe was too short.  That the “moment” was just that – a moment.  She asked if maybe we could stretch it out to a minute or so.  I had never thought about it too much.  As it turns out our definition of moment was exactly 15 seconds as timed by our school secretary.  The routine is that a few kids come up and do the announcements and toward the end comes “the moment”. 


In my classroom I just ask that kids stop what they are doing and listen carefully to all of the announcements.  Just to hush up so we can hear.  Some of the announcements are really important to all of us.  Like being sure to wear your school t-shirts to the zoo field trip.  Other teachers talked about what their classes do for the moment.  I never really thought about asking my kids what they do.  I certainly haven't asked them to do anything special.  It's their moment.


So the next morning I asked everyone.  I was careful and politically correct.  “I’m not saying that you need to do what I do.  I’m not telling you to do anything in particular.  I’m just curious.  We observe the moment of silence every day.  Anyone feel like telling what you do for that time?”


Well the responses were quite different.  From, “I pray to GOD every day, asking him to make me a good student,” to “I just let my mind rest and try not to think of anything.  I let it go anywhere.”  As I observe the kids during that brief time, I really don’t see anyone close their eyes or do much of anything different.  They’re just… silent.


For the last week or so our moment has been stretched to half a minute.  It seemed kind of long compared to what we are used to.  Not too long. But it does give me time to do what I usually do.  Sometimes I am thinking of what comes next.  Planning what to do with 22 seven-and-eight year olds is pretty complex.  What I try to do most days is look into the eyes of as many kids who are looking my way, try to make a momentary connection and smile with my eyes.  Most kids smile with their eyes back at me.  It’s sweet.  Sometimes I close my eyes and thank God for this opportunity to work and play with these 22 beautiful young kids.  How blessed am I?  Very.


On the back of my lesson plan clipboard is this little prayer.  It came from a card given to me by a grateful parent many years ago.  If I am holding my clipboard during the moment, I’ll flip it over and reread this.


Oh God!

Educate these children.

These children are the plants

Of Thine orchard, the flowers of Thy

Meadow, the roses of Thy garden.

Let Thy rain fall upon them; let the Sun

Of Reality shine upon them with thy love.

Let Thy breeze refresh them in order that

They may be trained to grow and develop,

And appear in the utmost beauty.

Thou art the Giver.  Thou art

The Compasionate.



You can do a lot in a moment.  Thanks Tameka.


Harper and Dad said...

To those of us who do nothing more with the moment of silence other than to wait for it to end - it feels much longer now (hmmm...about twice as long). Perhaps I should take your lead and try doing something more.

Coming from the St. Louis area, we never had anything like a moment of silence. There was a very careful separation of church and state. I was really surprised, when moving here, to see the moment of silence in practice. I can't say for certain that I'm necessarily against it but I am surprised by its presence.

Gloria (The Mamafamilias) said...

What a great way to start the school day. And I love the poem.

Kelly said...

Do you occasionally slip in a prayer that the lecture on hand-washing sinks in? That was a great story (both the comment and your post). You know, sometimes I don't think we give the children much credit for thinking deeply during the brief moments they are quiet, but I think sometimes, they are having more profound inner conversations, whether with themselves or some other entity, than most adults do at any given point on any given day. Give the kids a smile for me, too, tomorrow. (They really are sweet, aren't they, even if the 'sweet' is covered in grime, occasionally.)