Thursday, October 04, 2007

Saved by the Bell

“They put their names on a sign-up sheet to ring the bell and they can’t wait until it’s their turn,” said Mary, one of my fellow-meditators on Wednesday night and a new teacher in one of the DC public charter schools. She has incorporated the use of the meditation bell into the beginning and ending routine of each day.

She teaches in a school that handles mostly special education children. Some have learning disabilities. Others have emotional problems that often result in uncontrollable outbursts.

They study academic subjects. But most importantly, they learn how to live in society. Mary says that she has gotten used to markers and erasers flying across the room. But as calm as she is, she hasn’t gotten used to her students touching her bicycle, which she often brings into her classroom.

It turns out these troubled young students have quickly come to see the value of brief periods of meditation. At the beginning of each day Mary rings the bell and they breathe for 2 minutes as they listen to the sound subside. At the end of the day a student gets to ring the bell while they breathe once again. For those 4 minutes each day everyone focuses on the moment and simply breathes in calmness.

One particularly troublesome boy came to her in an agitated state this week and said, “Please, Ms. H, I really need that bell.”

What a disciplinary revolution that is trading out the paddle for the bell, and in doing so replacing anger and humiliation with calmness and peace. I love the idea that Buddhism is triumphing over physical violence.

It is tempting to use my $200 in December to buy bells for some of the other classes at the charter school for troubled children.


Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

It's not just the bell, it's the person who rings it. I don't think $200 will buy that!

Mary is finally in the right place. Saw her the other day - she looks SO happy!

8:17 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

What a great way to address different needs in the classroom.

9:58 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- You are definitely correct. Mary is so at home with Buddhism. And no one rings that bell like she does!

Kristin -- I agree!

10:13 PM  
Blogger steve said...

Gonna go get me a bell...

11:46 AM  

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