Years ago Todd Rundgren sang:
Light of the world, shine on me
Love is the answer.
The Beatles sang a similar tune with “All You Need is Love.”
When I studied A Course in Miracles I learned: One Problem/One Solution. The problem in any situation is a lack of love. The solution to any problem is to love. Always. That is the message of Jesus, after all, even when it gets lost in the dogma.
I hold these truths deep within me, but that doesn’t always mean I remember to apply.
Today I decided to apply.
This has been a trying week. Earlier, I wrote about having an issue at work. It was the chaos of my 5th period class I was referring to. This is my largest class — 19 in all. Doesn’t sound all that bad, until you take into account the total includes 12 exceptional education students, a few of which are Intensive Academics; two ESOL students — one which is completely monolingual; and one supportive behavior (SB) young man with some anger and attention issues. I have another teacher to help facilitate but truly, there are just too many directions to go.
This came to a head on Tuesday when the two of us just could not take care of everything, causing a lot of noise and stress and chaos. It really bothered me.
Then yoga last night. I attend a restorative yoga class on Wednesday with the amazing Linda Rowland at Yogabird. She plays the crystal bowls after inviting us into the most relaxing poses ever — some that make us feel like we are flying. This is the kind of class I have to get to 30 minutes early or I won’t get a place. It is the best 75 minutes of my week, and has helped me immeasurably this school year.
Last night Linda played the bowls which spoke to the throat and heart chakras. While lying there, lost in the reverie as it were, I felt this strong message I had to reach out and love my students more. That very day, I had sat down and had a heart-to-heart discussion with all of my classes about the need to stay focused and not get out of control, there are guidelines to follow, and we need to keep in mind the seven caring habits. Among those are to be supportive and encouraging and negotiate our differences — not lash out.
I am getting ready to teach the novel The Contender, and had gathered a whole collection of action verbs the author, Robert Lipsyte, included in the first chapter. The words include swagger, shuffle, whine, whirl, pinch, jangle, shiver, scamper, and stomp. I asked the students to write the words in their Writer’s Notebook today, just to save for an activity later. Then I decided to have them act out the words. It was a lot of fun in 3rd period. Then 5th period came. I have to admit, I was worried. This is a group that can get out of control so quickly. I questioned my own wisdom, but proceeded.
At first, I didn’t think any of them would participate. But then some kids started jumping in, trying to persuade their friends. A boy I will call Freddie has recently joined our class. He had been in our school before and in a different class of mine. When he came back to our school, he ended up in this 5th period class. They were not welcoming to him. He is flamboyant, extremely talkative, and can be sweet as pie one minute, then flipping the bird at someone the next. Somehow, though, over the past week he seems to be a tad more accepted. He has buddied up with three rather shy girls, and somehow they have accepted him against all odds. Today that acceptance paid off.
Freddie convinced the girls to become the “Stomping Steppers” and he choreographed a little routine for them to do. This included them turning around and pointing to him, one by one, and then he acted out the word. I absolutely cannot do it justice trying to explain how he crossed his arms in front of him, flapped his hands, and was making this sound…like, I don’t know. (Later he told us it was the word shivering.) All I know is that it was the funniest damn thing I had seen in a long time, and the entire class agreed. Everyone was howling. Two boys fell out of their chairs. I had tears flowing down my cheeks. Freddie kept going and we kept laughing. It was golden.
Love and laughter. What a powerful combination. I think today was a huge step in healing the disparities in the class. Freddie may get bullied for being obviously gay, but today I think he gained a bit of acceptance even by those who would deride him. He let it fly. And now we are, too.