I am a music teacher for students in pre-kindergarten through grade 5. Students have music for 40 minutes on a three day rotating schedule. Our class routine involves students singing as they follow the line leader around the edge of an area rug set in the middle of the room. When all of the students are finally in the room and around the rug, they sit in a circle and we begin our class greeting.
On this particular day, however, this first grade class came in a little unsettled. So, I stopped and said, “You know, I think that today we should start with our pause for peace, instead of our usual singing. I think we all need this today.” One of the students, who often uses a loud voice, shouted out, “I can’t pause for peace right now!” I responded, “Wow, it really sounds like you have a part of you that wants to say something.” The response was energetic, “Yes! I do! I have a lot of energy, but I’m really tired!” I thought to myself, “Oh great, here we go…”
“Oh wow, tell me more about that?” I said. The student began to tell the class about how they were feeling. The class was pinned right to the words of this student and were totally engaged.
I responded by saying, “What would happen if you asked this part to step back and give you a little space? You know, that part that just wants to blurt out? Because, we all have this part. I have this part too.”
At this point many children were signing the ASL sign for “same” or raising their hands to show their connection to this part. “What would happen if that part took a little step back to give you some space?” The student responded, “It doesn’t want to!” I started smiling inside thinking, “Oh no! Now what do I do?” I took a deep breath and remembered to remain curious and connected. “Well, you know, sometimes we have that happen. We have parts that are so much in control they don’t want to step back. But let’s take a look at this. What would happen if that part doesn’t step back today and it doesn’t give you any room?” The student quickly responded, “Oh, I’m getting in trouble!” I said, “Well, you know all your parts are welcome here. I really mean that. Even the part that wants to shout out. But, you’re right. We won’t be able to get some learning done here and your friends might get a little aggravated. So, what if we all take a deep breath together.”
The whole class took a deep breath together and then another. The shift in energy was palpable. The student was able to continue our class and be with everyone in a more regulated state.