Each Monday morning, the elementary and middle school classes gather together for Inner Joy Circle. It is an experiential gathering that helps build school community and aims to give the children a deeper experience of themselves. The planning is done in the flow learning style and takes into account what is happening in the natural world as well has current events.
Today’s current event was the mass shooting in Las Vegas. I noticed that the impact of the tragedy affected my thoughts and those of the parents and staff that I met before Inner Joy Circle. A parent shared with me that it was Gandhi’s birthday and she chose to focus on his quote of “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” as a way of helping to process the news with her daughter.
Since this was a quote that came into my mind too, I decided to change the direction of Inner Joy Circle to meet the needs of those kids who had heard about the incident or could feel its influence. Since we have first through eighth graders in the circle, I knew that talking about the incident would be developmentally inappropriate for some children so I needed to focus on a more universal theme.
We did a “thumb” check-in as a group to see how everyone was feeling (thumbs up, down or in the middle), and then moved into singing together, “…I am but an empty vessel, filled with the presence of God, I am love, I am joy, I am peace”. We talked about Mahatma Gandhi and why we recognize him as a leader of positive change. Next, we picked Angel cards and talked about the qualities we chose, like Light, Courage, Humor, Expectancy, Balance and Enthusiasm. This lead into a game, Back to Back, which involved moving and stopping to find a partner to sit back to back. Finally we did some Eden Energy Medicine techniques to bring the wild, playful energy back into our center and then we finished our time together with a short meditation and sending blessings our to our loved ones and beyond.
The class wasn’t an obvious addressing of the tragedies happening outside the walls of our school, but it was an act of peace, a response to senseless violence and the loss of innocent lives. Children can feel what is happening even when the adults around them don’t share the particulars. Changing gears in the morning curriculum to suit the immediate needs was inconvenient and not as smooth as I hoped, but it brought us together in a positive way to reinforce the idea of being “the change we wish to see in the world.”