Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Rechargeable batteries?

We are less than halfway through our state mandated test in my fourth grade classroom. The kids are working so hard, they are beginning to feel defeated, and their emotions are on overdrive. I realized this afternoon after consoling H and J (and nearly breaking down myself as I explained that it's ok that they ran out of time and said how proud I am of them), after G of all people sobbed twice before lunch and once after, after good friends J and F almost lost their cool on the basketball court...

They are completely drained, and they do not know how to deal with their feelings right now. We sat in a circle and compared our bodies to batteries. I identified the indicators of a draining battery. "If your brain is feeling tired, if you are getting upset or angry more easily than usual, if you are sleeping differently - those are signs that your battery is low." As they indicated their personal battery levels and they saw that their classmates also pointed to their shins, I could hear a collective sigh of relief. They opened up and talked about their nightmares, their jitters, and all of the other things they thought were abnormal. I told them to practice empathy toward their friends, and we talked about how to 'recharge' our batteries when we feel drained.

It was a great conversation, but I wish it didn't have to happen. I just don't think it should be 'normal' for a bunch of nine year-olds to feel this much stress.

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