Possibilities

Seven little letters
On seven little keys
Along with their neighbors
The twins and triplets
Stepping and hopping
Walking and dancing
In and around
Up and over each other
A musical little bunch
Together, they will make you
Laugh, cry, maybe even dance
Depending on their patterns
And when you learn
To play them
Creating patterns
Of your own
Well, the possibilities are endless

I cannot wait for my students to see and play our new pianos! ❤️

Stop, Look, & Listen

Clearly, my ears are playing tricks
But that sound is so familiar
A waterfall?
Rushing mountain spring?
Standing in my driveway
I know neither is nearby
Still…I cannot resist
The urge to turn around
And look

No, not rushing water
Merely the wind
Strong yet, peaceful
Making its way thru
A proud row of tall pines
I smiled
The wind subsided
Its message clear
At the end of a busy day…rest

The first day back to school after a break is always challenging. Yes, there are lots of smiles, hugs, and high-fives. But there are also tired kiddos and teachers all easing back into those all-important routines.

The first day back during a continuing pandemic adds another layer of challenge. Staff and students out sick, difficulty finding subs. Our resolve was tested on many levels. And yet, we keep moving forward, working together. But we must also remind each other to rest.

Scenes From School

Scene One

Walkway outside the music room.

Several First-grade students: Mrs. Morris! I am signing up for your piano class!

A Fifth-grade student: Mrs. Morris…why is it only for first and second graders?

I am excited to offer a piano club for the first time! It will be for First and Second graders. Looking into offering a second class. Shhhhh…

Scene Two

A group of teachers and school staff members at Target:

It is Angel Tree time at our school. Teachers and staff work diligently to make sure our students have what they need along with something they want. This year, a local corporation sponsored some of our angels. All they needed were shoppers.

What are you looking for?
Here are some cool Legos!
Oh, and these shoes are cute!
What do you think about this hoodie?

Passing each other in the store, all smiling as we searched for just the right gifts. The same as in the halls each day at school. Sometimes with tears instead of smiles, always with concern for our students.

A few of our secret shoppers. ❤️💚

Scene Three

The music classroom.

Me: Today is our student teacher, Mr. Malone’s last day with us. We need to say thank you and goodbye.

Student One: Why can’t he be our teacher? Are you ready to retire?

Student Two: Wait, is he a student? But he is a grownup!

Student Three: (Eyes welling up with tears.) I am going to miss him. (Crying along with a goodbye hug.)

Scene Four

The community kitchen-bustling with holiday cheer.

Friday morning, teachers and staff were treated to a pancake breakfast! The counter was lined with bowls of strawberries, bananas, chocolate chips. Complete with peanut butter, syrup, and whipped cream. The jolly cooks were none other than our administrators!

Two of our three amazing administrators. ❤️

One more week until Christmas break! ❤️💚❤️

Precious Boy

Nothing compares with the contagious laughter of a child. The kind that brings tears because it can’t be stopped. One of my first-grade friends recently demonstrated this phenomenon.

He is always smiling. When I see him in the hallway, in the music room, getting in the car with his mom to go home. Such a sweet boy.

Those with an honest laugh also have a sincere cry…

Today in music class, students sang a song about Thanksgiving. I then asked, What are you thankful for? Such sweet answers. My family, friends, brother, sister, grandma, and on and on. Almost all of them mentioned a family member.

This friend was no exception. He said he was thankful for his mom. I immediately pictured him running to his car every afternoon. Always wearing that big smile.

We ended class by watching and listening to a song about Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t say it is a sad song, but sweet. When the song ended, I teased the class.

You guys haven’t asked me what I’m thankful for!

What are you thankful for, Mrs. Morris?

You guys!

I followed this with a comment about their sweet smiles. And then I mentioned my one friend’s contagious smile and laugh. It was time to line up. I noticed he had a funny look on his face, eyes downcast. So, I asked what was wrong.

Tears began to flow. While the others lined up, I knelt to talk with him.

My sister died. When she was little.

Oh, honey, I am so sorry.

I told him how special it was that he remembered her in his heart.

Precious boy. I will not soon forget his laughter or his tears. ❤️

Scenes from School

Scene One

Fifth-grade girl: Mrs. Morris, I am going to bring you some poems I wrote. They are about love.

Me: (Reading her poems.) She’s right. Love is unpredictable. 😉

Scene Two

Fourth-grade girl walking to the library to return her book. I notice that the book she is holding is my book.
She smiled. “It’s a good book, Mrs. Morris.”

We snapped a cute picture. She made my day!

Scene Three

Kindergarten student: Mrs. Morris, we are coming to see you tomorrow! You better be prepared!

Scene Four

Students drew pictures while listening to a Mozart piano concerto. Here are a few of my favorites from fifth grade. ❤️

Teaching is hard work. This week had its challenges. But I am choosing to focus on the ones that made me smile.

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. 🎶❤️🎶

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! ❤️