Living in the Sacred Classroom
As I work with children across grades, The Sacred Classroom principle has been instrumental in helping me become a better teacher and a present individual. The principles have also helped in connecting better to my co-workers as we work together towards a common goal.
As an educator, the seven guiding principles of the Sacred Classroom addresses a child’s whole being – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. And one cannot hold the space for a child, unless we practice it through our experiences in the classroom. Wisdom circles have been wonderful pause points to share and help each other in this journey.
A child recently joined us who was still figuring out a work rhythm that would help him with the required work within the timeline given. The concept of independent work time was also new for him.
As his teacher, I was worried about his capacity to utilize his time well. As long as I stayed in this state of judgement and conditioned presence, the child stayed in this limbo of not being able to complete work or utilize the time well. Applying the principle of unconditional love – I began to accept the child for who he is and where he was right then in that moment. Practicing presence, I was able to connect to his authentic, honest self, accepting all his strengths and challenges. A dialogue with the child after working on myself, helped me make a clear request to him and we came up with a few strategies to stay focused in his work. I am glad to share that now he is staying up with his work and has had an internal shift where he is taking responsibility for himself and his work.
Teachers, parents and students alike have their strengths and challenges. The pillar of unconditional love has taught me to be kind to myself and accept myself with all my strengths and challenges. It has taught me Self-love. This has been instrumental in helping children thrive in our space.
What is the Yes behind the No? A child I worked with a few years ago constantly challenged me by not bringing in her homework. She was capable and an active participant in class. This really puzzled me. I became aware of my fears and a belief system that constantly worried – if she doesn’t do her work now, how will she ever manage to do so in future? I had to shift from my own fear mode. I had to acknowledge this fear for myself and give myself an empathetic listening before I could be completely present for the child.
Following this, I also empathized with the child’s need for acceptance and work on her fear of being judged. This fear had its roots in her childhood where she was shamed by a teacher for not bringing in her work, even though she had completed it, but genuinely forgotten it at home. The mistrust that she felt at that moment stayed with her and had become a pattern with her. Trust and acceptance, not a “fix-it”, helped her ace her exams, but more importantly build her self- esteem.
Awareness has been the foundation of unconditional love. This pillar has helped me as a teacher to learn to empathize with myself and create a space for deep listening to a child without judgement.
As an educator trying to balance a number of needs of children in my space, I used to constantly feel stretched for time. I would feel impatient with any change in the schedule or if children were absent. The harder I tried, the more difficult it became. I became a stressed-out teacher with a burn out in the horizon. I started noticing the anxiety build in kids too. I became aware of the scarcity consciousness I was operating from. The third principle of Abundance helped me shift. Today I am able to stay present as I have prioritized self- care, moments of silence and gratitude as an everyday sadhana to stay connected with my higher self. Children are in a natural state of Abundance and Trust in the infinitive possibilities of life. The opening circles in our classrooms are a wonderful time where we bring Intention, Attention and Trust to stay connected to this natural state of being.
Children in the class create Intention walls and energize affirmations for eachother.
Adults and children are equal in respect, but varying in responsibility – this saying captures the essence of this pillar beautifully. As a space, we have always been loving and protective about the children we work with. But at times, we have also been over protective. A student who had a learning difficulty, found it hard to comprehend explicit and implicit meaning in a text. And it really shocked us that he chose to write the advanced level in subjects in the exams that year where implicit work was paramount, while we had focused only on the basic level. Initially, we tried to convince him otherwise.We thought if he failed, then it would affect his self-esteem. But in the process, we realized that we were too caught up with the ‘ifs’ and lost the bigger picture. We were letting our decision on a particular issue limit him from addressing his true potential!
We needed to respect his choice and the responsibility that he was taking for himself. Energised with a new feeling, as a team we came up with many strategies to address the skill sets he needed – completely trusting his journey. His willingness to work and determination helped him tremendously! This instance really helped us understand that each soul has a journey and a plan; we need to respect it and play our roles humbly and consciously.
Relationships Mirroring is a beautiful and subtle concept of the Sacred classroom. Every relationship is a mirror; it reveals who we are. Many a times in a relationship, we feel that if we keep the other person happy, then all will be alright. What we forget is that in order for a relationship to work, we need to invest in ourselves too. How do I view myself in this relationship – do I feel love for myself, do I feel worthy of my thoughts, feelings and actions? Working on this principle brings clarity and strength.
If I want children to love what I teach, then I must love hat I bring in…If I want my students to be committed learners, then I need to be a committed teacher. Recently, a group of students enjoyed the classes and actively participated in it. They however, came in without the required written work. Repeated reminders did not help. I took a step back and reflected on what in me was creating this pattern with my students. I realized that I couldn’t carry out natural consequences with ease within me. I judged myself if I had to carry out a natural consequence, even if outwardly the action was the right one. I had to get comfortable with my own self – looking at my own reactions to such consequences and value myself. Today they come in with a sense of ownership of their written work. When I valued my time and effort, they valued their work and effort. When I changed my inner response, it clearly reflected in the class.
Learning from Challenges
Every challenge has been a learning opportunity. This pillar of the Sacred classroom has helped me understand that mistakes happen. We need to learn from it and move on – not letting these mistakes define us, but refine us in our journey called life. In the classroom, it helps us to be able to accept all ups and downs, and be present with nurturing limits for children. Learning from challenges helps children become empowered individuals with a better understanding of themselves. Surmounting a challenge in us and in kids, helps keep the heart of a child open to learning. They build trust in themselves and the world.
Dropping the Ego
This has been the most difficult part and a journey by itself. Voice of the Ego disrupts the functioning of the body; as the ego is attached to the body, it cannot but help react to it. Working on this pillar helped me work on the “i”, look at the overidentification of the self that had been created due to experiences in the past, projections of the mind and the baggage of years of resentment.
Dropping the Ego has really helped me to practice forgiveness and to let go when needed. It has created a sense of expansiveness within myself when I work with children and teachers. It has helped me understand that we are much more than our ego, and we are not our jobs or possessions. It has helped break the fears and trust life!
Don’t be afraid to love, take risks, be curious and explore what you love. All the small things in life bring in happiness. Just sit back and watch your soul soar to its unique potential. This is helping me understand that as a teacher, I learn from my students and their challenges, stay engaged, but remain detached as a facilitator. The principles have been a guiding light to work out my relationships in life and has enriched the way I live life today. Life is simple and Beautiful!
Sangeetha is the Middle and High School coordinator at Creative and teaches Chemistry, Biology and Environmental Sciences. She holds a degree in Environmental Science and a master’s degree in Remote Sensing and Cartography. Teaching has been her calling and she enjoys working with young children.