FEELING MAGNETS AT THE VIENNA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
Earlier this year, I was invited to the Vienna International School (VIS) to witness how they had integrated Feeling Magnets and the My Feelings Box in the school and classrooms. It was an incredibly powerful experience.
It started with the primary school Principal, Martha Ross, getting herself a set of Feeling Magnets as she transitioned from maternity leave with her little one into her new role, in a new school and a new city.
She wrote me saying, “I am so grateful for these Feeling Magnets. They come just before we move, before I finish an assignment and at the perfect time as I am learning so much about my responses and reactions to life events.” Before long she was telling friends and teachers about them and lending them out (and then ordering more). She quickly realized that this would be a valuable tool for the students as well.
When I told her a children's version was in the works she immediately replied, “I’m very keen to get my hands on them. Can I make an order now and you send it straight to school when they are ready?” We hadn’t even started the first production for the My Feelings Box (Feeling Magnets for kids aged 8 - 12). She did receive the first My Feelings Box’s that came out of the workshop.
The Principal’s Office
These first kids kits were immediately put to use in her office, when kids came by to discuss their grades, arguments or behaviors. The children quickly grasped how they worked, and she witnessed their ease with talking about emotions evolving each time. The students started coming into her office and immediately telling her how they felt, to which she then asked “How did you know I was going to ask you how you are feeling?”. “You always ask me” they replied.
She also lent the My Feelings Box to parents to take home when they had difficult times like changes in the family or relocating. The parents came back enthused by the new level of communication that they were able to have with their children. “Having the words in front of the family enabled them to understand the different emotions each of them were having in the same situation” explained Martha.
The Lighthouse Classroom
A very forward thinking and emotionally attuned teacher then integrated the My Feelings Box into her classroom. She began by reviewing the different feelings with the entire class, explaining what they meant, how they felt and then encouraging students whose mother tongue is not English to translate the feeling words with their parents. The My Feelings Box was left in a designated spot in the classroom for the students to use if and when they pleased.
When I visited the school, I was greeted by this class or 8-year olds filled with questions and stories to tell me about the My Feeling Box. They were curious to know what was behind this box and asked:
“Why did you make the My Feelings Box?”
“How many have you produced?”
“What inspired you to learn about feelings?”
“Do you have other ideas of things to make?”
“Why haven’t you made them yet?”
“How do you inspire people to work with you?”
One eager boy could barely sit still as he waved his hand in the air and then proceeded to tell me about how the My Feelings Box had helped him: “When I get in a fight with my friends on the playground and I come inside, I get the My Feelings Box and I pick out how I am feeling and how I want to feel. When I finish, I already feel better. I feel more calm and I know what I need to do. Then I go back outside to play.”
I felt moved and inspired to see how openly these children were acknowledging their emotions and how eagerly they embraced a tool to help them to do so. The teacher in this class had done a wonderful job of making it completely normal and totally OK to feel and talk about feelings. What a gift to these children.
I feel so grateful, excited and touched to have a whole school adopt the Feeling Magnets and making it a core mission of their to equip their students with the skills to understand and navigate their emotions.
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