Teacher Appreciation Week

Holders of the Future

Schools are failing
Some would like
You to believe
Wisdom says
Otherwise
One only
Needs
To look
To listen
Hundreds of lives
Working together
In community
Not simply teachers
Teaching students
But people, both
Young and old
Connecting on
Common ground
One that seeks
To meet needs
Heal wounds
Tell stories
Solve problems-
So, what are schools?
They are not failures
But holders of the future-
Take a minute
To stop
To look
To listen
Not at the ones
Talking about
Schools
But the ones
Walking inside
Every
Single
Day

As a teacher, listening to political rhetoric can quickly become discouraging. Especially when I truly stop and think about all of the stories. And I am only one of many. So, I only hear some of the many.

I watch as students take home extra food. Listen as concerns are shared among staff. Notice when students receive much-needed services. And this is in addition to the love and care received from their teachers.

Each day there are tears of joy and sadness, screams of excitement and frustration. But isn’t that life? Don’t miss the bigger picture because of the voices attempting to drown it out.

The second poem was written for a recent school volunteer celebration. But it seemed fitting for my teacher friends as well. ❤️

Ready to Bloom

Imagine the
Blooming daffodil
Magically captured
In time-lapse
Photography
Instant joy in
Sunshine yellow
If only you could see
The results
Of your work
In this manner-
Nurturing hands
Thoughtful words
Freely planting
Seeds of confidence
Gently watering
Pulling weeds
Re-planting when
Necessary
Always shining
Your light…
So much light
Tending to
Each new stem
Each new bud
Each precious child
With love and patience
As they emerge
At their own pace
Right alongside you
Ready to bloom

Scenes from School

Scene One: Fifth-Grade Boys

Fifth graders keep me on my toes. Some days, they leave me exhausted and a little frustrated. Other days, they leave me smiling and re-evaluating my life.

We have an afterschool program called Changemakers. Students create and present pitches to the community. Ideas to positively impact the future and make their community a better place to live.

One day last week, I received three business cards from fifth-grade boys. The first handed me his card as soon as he entered my room. The second came a little later during class. And the last one as the students was lining up to leave.

Each card read name, email, and Tulsa Changemakers. Any hesitations were erased when I expressed my excitement at receiving their cards.

Wow! Your own business card! This is great! I will keep these in my wallet.

These students will leave our building after this school year. They will find their way into their teen years. And hopefully, they will continue looking for ways to improve their community. I will be listening for those names!

Scene Two: Fridays and Kindergarten

Securing subs is a challenge these days. Cancellations happen, leaving staff to improvise, share responsibilities, etc. Our saying: It is what it is. We got you covered.

That brings me to kindergarten on Friday. I had an extra class. Students in the second class are not usually in my room. I may see them in the halls, but they don’t really know me.

A little girl from the other class started getting upset with a friend. I smiled. Do you want to come to sit by me? She did and within minutes had climbed up in my lap. She began to chat, asking about my earrings, girl talk. And then, as if our roles were reversed.

I am going to ask you a question. Tell me one thing that makes you happy. And one thing that makes you sad.

Hmmm. Of course, I had to answer.

Well, seeing all my kids makes me happy. They are all grown up. But I am going to see them all this evening! Saying goodbye to my mom and dad makes me sad. They live in another state, but I go visit sometimes.

Well, you should just go visit now!

They live about five hours from here.

Oh my! That would take at least three days!

Pretty sure I made a new friend. I know I met a young teacher. ❤️

Voices

One song
A song from
College days
Simple melody
Powerful message
Tempted to quote
You the lyrics or
Start singing
Even though
I haven’t heard
It in years-
Somehow it found
A hidden corner in
My memory banks
Locked itself away
Patiently waiting for
A chance at revival-
Today was the day!
Music rolled in
Like a wave-
One voice
Singing in the darkness
All it takes is one voice

Okay, okay
No more lyrics
Only these words-
My voice matters
And so does yours

Have a listen… 🙂

https://youtu.be/s7bv-Vn1_gw

https://music.apple.com/us/album/one-voice-digitally-remastered-1998/194640131?i=194640481

I wrote this poem during a recent poetry circle event with Ali Grimshaw. ❤ Learn more here: https://flashlightbatteries.blog/

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.  ❤

Neighborhood Walk

It’s that time of the summer. Back-to-school ads are everywhere. School staff members are working hard to make sure everything is ready when the students arrive. It is a team effort.

I spent most of last week preparing my classroom. But on Thursday evening, I experienced a different type of back-to-school preparation. I went on a neighborhood walk.

What an amazing experience! Around sixty school staff members gathered in the cafeteria for snacks and instructions. Our goal? To visit the families of our nine-hundred plus students.

Each team received a list of names with addresses and a map. We drove together to our assigned neighborhood or apartment complex.

Walking door-to-door, we greeted each student at their home. We introduced ourselves and gave each child a backpack. Parents shook our hands, grateful for the information shared. Kids’ smiled, telling us their grade level.

During our walk, one family stuck with me. As soon as we introduced ourselves, the mom began speaking in Spanish. Two precious little girls stood close by her side. Although I could not understand what she was saying, I sensed she was happy.

Thankfully, our assistant principal translated. He told us the mom had shared that her daughter was excited about school. She knew teachers were coming to visit that day, and had been awake since 5 A.M. waiting! The walk did not start until 5:30 P.M. She had been waiting for us all day long! ❤

A little later, we walked back by their apartment. I noticed the little girl standing on the landing with her younger sister. They were playfully hiding behind a post. When she saw us, she looked out from behind the post, smiled, and waved.

The smile on that little girl’s face was the real reason for our walk. Yes, we handed out important information. Yes, we provided a few school supplies. And yes, we were hot and sweaty. 😉 But more importantly, we made connections. We made connections with colleagues, parents, and students.

The first day of school can be stressful. But just maybe, the connections made during that back-to-school neighborhood walk will help ease the stress for our students. I know it helped ease mine. 🙂