Yesterday I got to teach a few classes with third grade students at a local elementary school in Portland, ME.
We practiced deep breathing techniques that we can use when we are feeling sad, mad, frustrated, excited etc to calm down. I shared that when we take a big huge breath in and a loooonnnggg breath out we can calm our bodies and minds down. We talked about how we can use our breath to respond rather than react.
The class loved learning dragon breath while being in dragon pose with their bodies. Letting out any ‘fire’ as they stick their tongue out long. Smiles and giggles ensued.
At the end of class I brought them on an imagination vacation where they floated on a safe, peaceful cloud that was just for them. They could take this cloud to any place in the entire world that helped them feel happy, kind and relaxed.
After students had the opportunity to share where they imagined their cloud taking them. It’s always fun to hear about the places they end up going… “Fun Town Splash Town, the museum, Candy land….”
Then I got to one student who said, “my school” and he shared the name of his school. What a beautiful testament to the environment that this school has created. This boy chose his school where he feels safe, happy and kind. Out of all the places in the world, real or imaginary, he chose his school.
This school in particular is doing a fantastic job of focusing on social-emotional learning with a trauma-informed approach. The care that is taken to make this a positive environment shines through in the words and actions of their students.
With the school shootings and rise of anxiety in students, hearing this student share that school was his safe place stopped me in my tracks. The schools who are focusing on creating safe (physically and emotionally) spaces for their students are helping their students in enormous ways. When children feel safe in school it positively impacts their whole entire world.