Sunday, October 2, 2016

Facilitating Emotions on the Ground

On the go facilitating student emotions
A student came up to me on Friday in the midst of group work and said, "Ms. Naputi I feel angry and I don't know why." A minute prior to that interaction, there wasn't anything happening within her group to set her off and she even told me it had nothing to do with her group members or the task. In fact, she said she was having fun with the project. We talked for 5 minutes max. Then she went back to her group and 15 minutes later, participated in a pretty kick-ass presentation of the food web. 

Imagine that type of exchange throughout the day. And I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about kids who bounce around like that. Some keep those feelings to themselves, others talk it out with a peer, a few act it out in disruptive ways, and only 2 or 3 are bold and comfortable enough to approach a teacher to release those random moments of anger. 

During passing time, I had a quick discussion with a group of girls, including that student, about current events, which is a weekly discussion we have on Fridays. They were clearly animated and eager to share what mattered to them in the news, and disappointed we ran out of time. That incredibly brief exchange was fueled with anger and confusion about community and world news. The role educators play in promoting peace within ourselves and our students is tremendous which got me thinking again about being intentional and concrete as teachers. Here are two suggestions: 

Facilitate conversations about injustices. Be for real. Protecting our kids by avoiding issues of turmoil is a delay strategy. They need every opportunity to be a citizen starting with an outlet to express their feelings. For the Clinton-Trump debate, every student was required to watch at least 15 minutes. Many watched more or sat through the whole thing. The first thing on their minds Tuesday morning was downloading their feelings of anger related to the debate. They did this in community, safely, and instructionally. And in the end, I asked the question: Now what problem do you want to solve?  And most directly identified race and equality as their issue to solve. Now the real work begins. 

Call out divisiveness. Teach words like spew and variations of the word, system, so they can identify bias, points of views, threats, and preferences. They need lots of examples and modeling to be able to withhold and denounce blanket statements and generalizations. I listen very closely to what my kids are saying and the words and phrases they choose. When they overtly used "ghetto," we investigated that word historically and contextually. When they used "slay" and "bitch" freely, we went to the source and together critically analyzed lyrics and video and words in the dictionary. Words and ideas have connotations that create divisiveness. Equality suffers when even the seemingly smallest things go unquestioned. 

So that's what I've been thinking about lately, especially in response to my student's statement about feeling angry and not knowing why. I"m not saying her anger was because of injustices or divisiveness, but when you're inundated throughout the day with bits of subtle pieces here and there, the source gets muddled. So I have to start somewhere and my reflection led me there. The truth is we all have that lil bit of anger churning around and sometimes we don't know why.  But the good news is that along with waging a battle of anger within yourself, there is the chance to also wage the battle for peace, and that's one thing we can sort through with our students. 

On that peace-filled note, here's what has been happening on the home and school front. I hope you all got a chance to read Kenji's interview (my last post) and are doing something outside in nature!

Family visit to see Ms. Matson who subbed for me :)

Go see this lovely bartender in action at DLUX!

The fam all in.

Weekend pasttime with this lil guy on the quarterback sack

Teammates and friends show the love.
Nature from the football field. Love the sport and them :)

Have a great week everyone!

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