Community

One day this week, our elementary school glee club took a little field trip. We traveled by bus, only about a mile, to a local supermercado. It may have been a short ride, but it left a lasting impression.

One of our school’s community partners sent a request several weeks ago. Did we have a small group of students who could sing at an awards ceremony? A businessman in the community was to receive special recognition from the Mexican Consulate. That is all the information we received. 

We gladly agreed to participate. The performance would be short and sweet, only two songs. The location was close to school, so it would not disrupt our whole day.

The students were very excited! There were lots of giggles and squeals as we boarded the bus, wearing our new glee club t-shirts. Upon arrival, our community school’s coordinator went in ahead of us to get details. 

While we waited, some of the students noticed a car from a local tv news station in the parking lot. Now there were nervous squeals. “Are we going to be on the news?” 

We soon learned the significance of this celebration. As we entered the supermercado, we were met by people dressed in formal attire. Tables with black tablecloths indicated a fancy reception. Long tables were filled with appetizers and desserts. Servers were dressed in chef’s attire, ready to serve.

Family members and distinguished guests had come to honor one particular businessman for his steadfast work to better his community. And our small group of students got to be part of the celebration. 

Students’ nerves soon settled, and they took their place in front of the crowd. Their performance was energetic and exciting! Through contagious smiles, they sang “La Bamba” and “Oye.”   

Once the music stopped, the air quickly filled with applause, bravos, and the snapping of photographs. Students were then invited to partake of the wonderful food. As a teacher, I was both pleasantly surprised and a little nervous.  😉

There was no reason to worry. Students followed instructions, politely chose their food, and listened to the presentation while they ate. I was even able to sneak a little taste. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of a specific group of students.

This whole experience left me thinking about the word community. I suppose I belong to many different communities. Whether through family, home, work, church, each is important. And my responsibility in each varies.

This week, I was privileged to celebrate the community where I work. Our students had the opportunity to show pride in the community where they live. And all it took was a short bus ride, two songs, and lots of smiles.

I hope students walked away with a lasting memory. One which will encourage them to be leaders in their communities, both now and in the future. I know I did.  ❤

Contagious

Morning car duty, the day after our first elementary choir rehearsal, one of my favorite fourth graders hopped out of his car with a big smile. Running over he gave me a big hug and chimed, “Choir was so much fun yesterday! I told my mom and dad that you almost cried when we sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” A tad embarrassing but he was right-I did get a little teary.

Same day-first hour-fifth grade. I showed students one of the new puppets I had ordered for my younger classes. Just delivered and so cute! The students smiled and I heard some awwws-that’s all it took. I began telling them how much the little kids love the puppets and how I wished I’d had puppets when they were in kindergarten and first grade.

A fifth grade boy spoke up, “Mrs. Morris, I’ve never seen an adult so excited about puppets before!” Well, guess what? I soon had twenty-something fifth graders asking to play with puppets. Of course I said yes.

What a sight! The biggest kiddos in the school using the cutest animal hand puppets, singing along to Carrie Underwood’s The Champion. Priceless!

Then it hit me! The enthusiasm of a fourth grade boy had been contagious.

There was a positive attitude domino effect at work. This cycle continued for most of the day, the most encouraged I’ve felt about my teaching so far this year. Don’t misunderstand, not all days work this way. I’m not attempting to paint a “perfect harmony little cherubs singing” portrait. Nor am I anywhere close to being Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music.

Truthfully, it took the excitement of a student to adjust my attitude. And if this one student has the power to do that for me, how many students and colleagues should I be able to influence?

Attitudes are contagious. And I can either spread one that is positive and encouraging or one that is negative and frustrating. Here’s to having an attitude others want to catch, not one they try to avoid.

Choir-It’s Elementary

If the words “Elementary Choir” cause you feelings of anxiety, welcome to my world!  I’m teasing, mostly, but I do find it challenging.  Choir was part of my high school and college life, but most of the time I ended up behind the piano.  That is where I’m most comfortable.  I’ve never felt as confident with my singing, hence my hesitation with directing a choir.

Today was the first day of after-school choir.  We meet once-a-week for about forty-five minutes.  In case you’re wondering, that’s a long time to keep twenty-five 4th and 5th graders engaged and singing, especially after a full day of school.  We are all tired, and ready for a snack and a nap.  Well, I’m ready for a nap.  Not to mention being hot and sweaty from afternoon car duty…

As I walked back to my classroom to begin practice, I could hear kids saying, “Here she comes!”  And it wasn’t a “better stop what you’re doing” warning.  It was more of a “Yay! It’s time for choir” comment.  The room was buzzing with energy and excitement.  Students helped set up chairs and everyone was seated quickly, ready to start.  I went to the piano and asked them to sing a simple song for me.  There was a risk they would consider my request babyish, but I needed to hear how they sounded.

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” has never sounded so glorious!  I am not exaggerating!  Not only were their voices sweet and light, I could tell they really loved to sing.  My smile could not have been any wider.  After some up and down “ah-ah-ah” and “ha-ha-ha” vocal warm-ups, I asked them to fill out a short choir survey.  I’ll get back to that shortly.

After the survey we learned the first part of our choir theme song, “Friend Like You.”  One of the verses says, “I know with friends like you, friends that I can talk to, we can take on the world.  There’s nothing we can’t do.”  So simple, yet so powerful.  And once again, their sweet voices singing this timely message made my heart happy.

We wrapped up practice, everyone went home, and I packed up my computer.  Oh, and those choir surveys as well.  Once home, I decided to read them.  Oh my goodness…their answers.  Most said they love to sing and want to sing better.  Some admitted being shy or embarrassed.  And then there was this…”I sing to my siblings at bedtime.”  Remember, we are talking about 4th and 5th graders.  I can’t imagine anything more precious.

Today changed my outlook for choir.  This self-described awesome group of kiddos-who just want to hang out with their friends and sing-encouraged this exhausted, in-search-of-motivation teacher.  Because of their attitudes, I find myself looking forward to next week.  I will listen to those sweet voices, and teach them the rest of our theme song.  Hopefully their enthusiasm will spill over, giving this tired teacher renewed energy.

Maybe elementary choir is not so elementary after all.