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

Only One

I only get
This one body
Beautifully
Complicated
Strong
Yet, fragile
An outer shell
Protecting
The heart beating
Inside my chest
Brain thinking
Inside my head
Eyes seeing
Outside my world
Bones, muscles, tendons
All connected
Carrying me
One step
One thought
One view
At a time-
This one body
That from time
To time feels
Pain, frustration
Inadequacies
From time to time
Experiences
Amazing happenings-
Carried three
Tiny beings
Until they were
Ready to meet
The world
Wrapped arms
Around them
Wiped away
Their tears
Held on to
Their hands-
Learning to love
This one body
Both its strengths
And weaknesses
This one temporary body
That houses my soul
 

Fine Lines

I sat outside
Long enough
For the sun
To warm my skin
The cool breeze
Made things
A little tricky
Almost keeping me
From discerning
The fine line
Between
Warm or burn
Caused me to wonder…
Reminisce or wallow
Sympathize or pity
Love or smother-
One would think
Those simple
To discern
And yet
I’ve blurred
Their lines
Too many times-
Today, I am grateful
For wisdom felt
In the cool breeze

Not Statistics

They return every day
Same building
Same rooms
Until some move away
And new ones come
Each one carrying
Their own story
Their history
Good and bad
Happy and sad
All blended
Together
Creating empathy
Understanding
And yes, conflict
Frustration
But ultimately
Learning that lasts
For a lifetime
And successes
Not measurable
By any test
Not represented
By any numbers
Because
They are not
Statistics
The teachers
Or the students
They are people
Connecting hearts
Healing heartaches
Every day
In this place
We call school
 
Turn on the news. Read a newspaper-state, local, even national. There will most likely be a story about public education. And it will probably be negative.

This constant negativity can weigh heavy on those of us in the field. Until we see those light bulbs turn on. Witness the progress, even if it is baby steps. Listen to their stories, and they ours. And sometimes, see their hearts.

A young student had been saving his money to spend at the book fair. Always a fun event at school. He was so excited! And then he saw his friend crying because he did not have any money for the book fair.

This precious little boy took his friend with him to the book fair. He shared half of the money he had saved with his friend. They both left with new books and happy hearts, one from giving and one from receiving. ❤️

Best-Laid Plans

Dominoes
Carefully
Lined up
Waiting patiently
Their rhythmic fall
Will soon begin
One onto the next
Onto the next

Dominoes
Carefully
Lined up
Impatient
Some hopping
Out of line
Causing gaps
Heavy sighs

Dominoes
Neatly stacked
Back inside
Their box
Resting quietly
Until the box opens
Revealing tomorrow’s
Best-laid plans

Due to President’s Day and icy weather, we only had one day of in-person school last week. It was not my best teaching day. Also, not my worst, but…Whew! I went home exhausted and a teeny bit irritable.

The struggles started with step one. Some I was able to fix, others I was not. No need to name them. That would only serve to re-ignite feelings of frustration.

That is teaching. That is life. No matter our plans. Rarely do all the dominoes fall in perfect order. And truthfully, that should not be the goal.

Here’s to a new week, new plans, and renewed purpose. And hopefully, a bit more patience.

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. ❤️

Freeze Frame

Pictures holding
History stored
In memory banks
Called to the surface
In a single snap
Of my fingers
Leaving me
Wondering
Why that?
Why now?
Why then?
Times I would
Like either
To forever
Forget or
Always
Remember
Each frame
Projecting
Enough
Power to
Push me into
A time-warp
Of emotions
Unless…
I slow down
Pay attention
Freeze
Each
Frame
Long enough
To grasp
This truth-
The past
Enriches
The present
Either by
Making me
Thankful
For changes
Grateful
For growth
Or content
With constants

Teachable Moments

Writing helps me process feelings. During one of my classes today, I decided to put that truth into practice. It wasn’t a terrible class, just loud. Lots of yelling at each other, mostly playing but foiling my attempts to teach songs/play instruments.

I could feel myself getting frustrated. So, I decided to try something different. I started a short music video, and I began to write. Some noticed, curious. And when the video ended, I explained what I had done.

I explained how writing helps me process my feelings. And that I was feeling frustrated. Then I read to them my words.

I love my job. But there are some moments. Especially the crazy ones that follow the awesome ones. The awesome ones are filled with music and laughter. So worth the energy.

I want each class to have that experience with me. To see the me that loves music. The me that loves life. The me that loves them. Not the me constantly saying, Sit down! Listen! Please don’t hit each other with the rhythm sticks or lick the dots on the floor.  Maybe next time…

It was suddenly quiet. I had kept myself from overreacting. They were listening.

Reflecting back on the day, it was mostly the fun kind of exhausting. This was only one small piece. A piece I felt was worth sharing. Because perfection is never the goal. The goal is learning. Life-long learning. And sometimes the lesson is for the teacher. ❤

Worth Carrying

Holding your little hand
As we walk
From outside
Thru the doors
Down the hall
To your classroom
Today
Unlike yesterday
I gained
Your trust
And trust
Is always
Worth carrying

Seeing your sweet smile
As you exit
Your car
Walking towards me
On the sidewalk
Stopping for a hug
And a quick
I’ll see you tomorrow
Today, I felt
Your joy
And joy
Is always
Worth carrying

Seeing tears
Fill your eyes
As we talk
In the hallway
At the end of
A difficult day
So many questions
So hard on yourself
Today, I offered
Encouragement
And encouragement
Is always
Worth carrying

As this day ends
I wonder
What will be
Worth carrying
Tomorrow?

Once again, I had the privilege of joining a poetry circle facilitated by Ali Grimshaw https://flashlightbatteries.blog/. It was the perfect end to a long day of teaching. To write, not worrying about what shows up on the page. To listen intently to others and be heard with the same intention. Time to be still and reflect. Not to mention, getting to know people from all over the world. What a joy! ❤️

Never a Straight Line

Out of Body by Need to Breathe was my Friday morning drive soundtrack. I love this album-every song. I have listened to it many times.

That morning was the start of the last day of the first week of school. I was exhausted. My music choice was intentional. I wanted to have the same energy from my previous two days of teaching. Not an easy task.

The song Hang On was playing. It is high-energy, fun, encouraging. As I sang along, one line stood out like never before.

So hang on to the light in your eyes and the feeling. Hang on to your love drunk original reason.
And all these things I’ve learned, it’s never a straight line.

Uphill
Downhill
Around
A curve
Sometimes
A guardrail
Sometimes not
At the onset
My destination
Seemed clear
The plan
Clearly
Mapped
Things look
Different
On paper

Detours
Construction
Roadblocks
Caused confusion
Second-guesses
Until finally
I realized
It is not about
The destination
It is about
The journey
And the best
Journeys
Are never
A straight line