She stood there in the middle of the gym, disengaged, as the other fifty grade 5 and 6 students swirled around her.
I tried to encourage her to join in with this organised chaos but she wasn’t interested. Her 10-year old body and tense brow indicated she wanted to be elsewhere.
I was puzzled. It was the fourth session of my ‘Pozitive Kidz are happy kidz’ program and she was still disengaged.
The theme for these workshops was on building self esteem from a Tai Chi perspective. But in this final session I began to wonder whether they’d made any difference at all for this particular little girl.
At the end of session I got all the students to sit down and it was time for Jacques the Shark, a toy I use to help students learn how to relax when they feel under pressure. It has a snapping jaw and is always a favourite with students.
As I took Jacques out of his silver-starred, blue bag, the little girl still didn’t show any interest.
I asked for two volunteers and, as usual, about fifty hands shot up in the air. I picked one girl and one boy to work with Jacques the Shark.
Well, Jacques did what he was supposed to do – bite. And the whole class erupted in laughter.
I looked over to where the little girl was sitting and saw a very brief smile that, for a few moments, erased all the worry and lit up her face.
And I smiled too.
I felt like I had achieved something.