Rolling the raisin around in our mouths

This is the time to pause and capture the essence of what matters most

Jeremy Hannay Headteacher, Three Bridges Primary School

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Look

If you had

One shot

Or one opportunity

To seize everything you ever wanted

In one moment

Would you capture it

Or just let it slip?

Eminem

 

A few years ago, well before the lockdown, we began rewriting the curriculum at Three Bridges.  While it was a complex and challenging journey, it started with some simple events that changed the course of our journey together.  It was an autumn evening, the staff sat, exhausted, in a classroom upstairs about to engage in an INSET about one of our new curricular elements – mindfulness, mental health and well being. I sat in the back of the room watching the staff engage in the topic before having a rather emotional moment during one of the activities.

After a short break, we all came back to a raisin on our tables.  Not raisins, plural. One raisin. Each.

It was an odd gesture to say the least. After a moment of everyone making jokes about what happened to the rest of the raisins, the staff became quiet as the trainer spoke.  She asked how many of us were mindful. The staff remained quiet, heads turning slightly left and right, to quickly lock eyes with one another, assessing whether everyone else felt as awkward by the question as they did.  She continued – how many of us notice the small things, the seemingly insignificant?  How well do we stop? Pause? Take in the world around us? And how often are we rushing from one thing to the next – living life like a never ending ‘to do’ list, never really taking a break, simply shuffling from one job done to another? When was the last time we actually tasted a meal or smelled a flower? You could see the staff reflecting on their busy lives as teachers, parents, carers, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers. You could feel the air begin to thicken with deep exhales of realisation: we had all – younger, older, teacher, TA, office staff, leaders – been caught up in the next lesson, the next conversation, the next meeting, the next email.  As a school that speaks loudly about mindfulness – about well being – we had all drifted. 

Then she asked us to pick up the raisin.  Place it in our mouths.  Don’t chew it.  Don’t swallow it.  Just roll it around in your mouth.  Notice the texture, the flavours. Notice how it feels to shift it from one slide to the other, to press it to the top of your palette, hold it under your tongue.  And everyone did.  A pin dropping would have been an atomic bomb. We needed to practice being mindful. Stopping. Pausing. Capturing the moment. It was a defining moment in our journey as a school – both professionally and personally.  The room was silent and the point became salient: the most important moment is now. What will you capture from it?

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