Are They Listening?

Most teachers have moments of wondering-are they hearing anything I’m saying? Sometimes it is difficult to know. I want to believe our students remember more than we think they do. Especially the things that are most important.

My attitude has not been great this week. Several reasons that really don’t matter. But I could have easily been described as tired, grumpy, and irritable on several occasions. Today there were a couple of sparks that helped change all of that.

First, if you’ve never heard First or Second graders sing, it is precious. Their voices are pure and sweet. Today, they were learning about how music notes are placed on lines. And how they could learn to read those notes. Specifically, sol and mi.

Each song we learned was a different combination of those two tones. In one of the activities, I would sing a pattern, they would echo. The fun came when we sang along with an accompaniment.

They sounded so sweet! I was trying to express how happy it made me hearing them sing. One little First-grader raised their hand.  

Mrs. Morris, are we filling your bucket?

I smiled. Yes! You are filling my bucket!

Our teacher says we filled hers, too.

I recorded their song and let them listen. There were giggles and smiles. Then I emailed the recording to their teacher. I also relayed their bucket comments so she would know they had been listening after all.

First Grade Music Class ❤️

Heavy Hearts

Your sweet smile
Gives no hint
Of the hurt
In your heart
They say children are resilient
That may
Be true
But a heart
Can only hold
So much pain-
When loss and
Instability
Frame each day
The future
Will not go
Untouched-
Not to say
There is no hope
Only that there are
No easy answers
Except for the ability
To always return
Your sweet smile

Each time I learn about another student facing traumatic circumstances, my heart grows heavy. Here they are, at school, trying to function. And quite often with a smile.

I am also reminded to stop and listen. Be patient and not too quick to judge behaviors. Seek out helpful information. Find ways to encourage.

Not that I am always successful. Honestly, my patience level today was low. But tomorrow is a new day. Another chance to observe, listen and love.

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. ❤

Scenes from School

Scene One

The cafeteria during kindergarten lunch. Twice this week, as I’m assisting with lunch, I hear the following -”Hey! You’re the music people!” “Yes, yes I am!” Nothing like The Village People. Well…

Scene Two

Kindergarten music class. “Hey, Music Teacher! I have ten kittens. I want to give you a kitten!”

Scene Three

Same as above, except at kindergarten lunch. Same sweet boy. ❤️

Scene Four

Talking with three 5th graders about self-control and being leaders. One girl says to the side, “Cute outfit!”

I’ll take it! But probably not the kitten. 😉

There are more, but I’ll stop there. School is exhausting. Kids are funny and sweet, grumpy and angry. But they are kids. I’m working to find the best in each day with them.

Music helps. 🎶❤️🎶

In a Field

Tiny deer
Bouncing
In the misty
Green
Of dusk
Behind
Two horses
Unaware
Standing
As if posing
For a picture
Family
Of deer
Grazing
In the misty
Green
Of morning
Stately buck
Standing
Quietly
Keeping
Watch
No sign
Of the horses
From last
Evening
They must
Be sleeping

Picture a lovely field below rolling hills, back-lined with a row of trees. A picturesque barn stands in the middle of the scene. I pass this field every day on my way to work.

I expect to see the horses, permanent residents. Multiple mornings this week, I was pleasantly surprised to see the deer. And one evening, the lone little deer exploring. Each sighting brought a smile and a deep breath.

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

Scenes from School

Scene One

A third-grade class is entering the music room. One little boy says, “You remember me.” “Of course, I remember you!” He gives me a big hug and says, “I missed you so much!”

He was in my music class last year.

Scene Two

A fourth-grader calls out to me from the cafeteria line. “Hey, Mrs. Morris. What happened to your hair?” “What do you mean?” “Well, it looks whiter.” We had a good laugh.

He was in my music class last year.

Scene Three

Fifth grade is entering the music room. I see familiar eyes smiling above a face mask. Suddenly, this student is hugging me and will not let go. “I missed you so much!” When she let go, there were tears in her eyes. And then, of course, tears in mine. “Oh, my goodness. You were in virtual all last year! Look how tall you’ve gotten!” She nodded her head and smiled.

She was in my music class two years ago. My first year at this school. And we were only in person until Spring Break due to the beginning of the pandemic.

All Are Welcome Here by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

We often talk about the importance of connections. We don’t always grasp their power at the moment. Sometimes we might not see the results at all. And yet, we continue. Each day, learning a little bit more about these precious ones placed on our path. Each day, challenging them to grow. Each day, showing them they are loved.

I am grateful for these sweet reminders on this second day of school. Oh, and for the power of laughter. 😉❤️

Opportunity

Tomorrow is the first day of school. Parents and students will be gathered outside the building early tomorrow morning. Some will be excited, some nervous, some may even be afraid. Once again, they will be coming to school in a pandemic yet to be under control.

I have many thoughts, opinions, and experiences on this subject, but now is not the time. Now I have an opportunity. More important than any opinion I might share.

What is it? The opportunity to greet families. The opportunity to welcome students to the music room, making music with approximately 175 kiddos by the end of the day.

Will it all go the way I have planned? Probably not. And that is ok. Because the next day, I get to do it all again. A little more tired than the day before, but that is ok, too.

As for now, I think it is time for bed…😴

Young Poets

Although I am their music teacher, many of my students are aware I write poetry. Last year, fourth graders had a unit on poetry. I shared some of my poems with their teachers to use however they liked. The connections that occurred were precious.

Students began to ask about my book that was being published. Wanting to know if they would be able to buy it at the book fair. 😉 I assured them there would be copies in the library to check out. They were so excited! I would give each of them a copy if I could.

One day after school, a fourth-grade girl handed me a stack of small notepaper. She had been writing poems and wanted to share! Another day in music, one of her classmates, a boy, shyly handed me a folded piece of paper. “Here are some poems I wrote.” He quickly walked away.

Over the following weeks, I had several conversations with these two young poets. They eagerly shared their writing, and I happily celebrated them.

One of the students traveled to Mexico before the school year ended. I hope she will return next year. The other is transferring to a new school. Brief but powerful connections for me, and I hope for them.

I asked permission to share one of the poems. This young man is confidently referring to himself as a poet now. No more hiding. It is a beautiful thing.

green is for happiness
which means that
trees have happiness
within the leaves
another green that gives
good vibes is grass
that swerves with the breeze

I don’t know about you, but I was impressed! I am going to miss this young man next year. I hope he keeps writing.

Check out my first poetry collection! Available at the following links.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B095DRCXNH/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_10SVGW2ZKGD56QHABRXV

https://pottersgrovepress.com/product/if-i-were-made-of-glass/

Simply Sunday

Memories

Memories amaze me. They can be stored in our brains for years and suddenly find their way to the surface. Like when a song instantly transports me to another time or place. One I haven’t thought about in years! Then just as quickly, that memory fades, and a new one has filed right along beside it.

One would expect to hear the phrase, “Oh, that brings back memories,” from a grandparent. Or at least from someone who has lived long enough to experience certain milestones. But this week, I gained a new perspective on the subject.

During my First-Grade music class Friday, we sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. It was one of those sweet moments where students gathered around the piano, singing as I played. Of course, they immediately asked if they could sing for their teacher when she returned. So, we practiced and got everyone lined up and ready.

And then I heard it. A sweet little voice in the group said, “Wow! That song really brings back a lot of memories!” “Why, yes, it does!” I smiled. This friend has lived on this earth for only six years. But you know, a lot can happen in six years. And just because it occurs in the first six years of life does not mean the memories are any less powerful.

Cheers to making memories and remembering them! ❤ 😉