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! ❤️

Three Little Words

No, not I love you. I am sorry.

Taking responsibility for our actions is not always easy. A lesson that often needs repeating. A reminder from someone else’s example, perhaps.

The week before Christmas break at school is challenging. Emotions flowing between teachers, staff, and students cover the whole spectrum. No matter how many times we experience this phenomenon, it manages to sneak upon us.

Such was my experience with kindergarten this week…

My classroom management skills are good. But this day, the combination of tired, grumpy, and excited (me and the students 😉) took over. Class ended on a frustrating note.

The next day, one of my little friends saw me at lunch.

Mrs. Morris, I made you something. It’s in my classroom. Something to make you happy!

That afternoon, I received five apology notes. ❤️

May we all remember to say those three little words whenever necessary. And may we receive them with grace and understanding whenever offered.

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! ❤️💚❤️

Beyond Happy Birthday

It’s all a matter
Of perspective
Well-rehearsed
Full of love
Celebratory
Happy Birthday!
Performance
Complete with
Full chorus
And orchestra

Impromptu
Full of love
Rambunctious
Happy Birthday!
Complete with
Kindergarteners
School hallway
Their stage
It’s all a matter
Of perspective

Each rendition
Delightful
In its own right
In its own space
But those sweet
Kindergarteners
Singing in
The school hallway
Provided a harmony
Beyond music

My birthday celebration this year was topped off with a special treat. My husband surprised me with tickets to see James Taylor and Jackson Browne in Kansas City, MO last night. Road trip! ❤️

Four hours of life’s soundtrack from these two artists who are still going strong. Both in their seventies, I was amazed at their energy. Inspired by their love for what they do. Sharing the power of connection that lives in their music.

I hope to write more about this event. But right now, I want to bask in the harmony beyond music. It started with those sweet kindergarteners and continued right until the final note of last night’s concert.

So close your eyes
You can close your eyes, it’s alright
I don’t know no love songs
I can’t sing the blues anymore
Oh but I can sing this song
You can sing this song when I’m gone
-James Taylor

Intrusion

Unwelcome thoughts interrupted my morning. In those early moments when it was unclear if I was awake or still dreaming. Images that made my heart sink.

An image of me trying to secure a class of elementary students in my storage closet. Was there enough room for everyone? Wait, there is a glass view window in the classroom door. Can I lock the closet door from the inside?

Next, my daughter is in a similar scene. Except hers is a high school special education classroom.

I know why these thoughts appeared today. 

A result of the news yesterday. 

Another school shooting…

There have been so many in our country, it is impossible to keep track. That statement makes me sad. And while I know I cannot live in that sadness, it must be acknowledged.

I choose not to live my life in the what if’s. Yet, as an educator, these stories are troubling. As a spouse and parent of educators, they are personal. For all of us, they are heartbreaking.

I do not write to offer a solution. Only to express my heart. The heart of a teacher who loves her students and would do anything to protect them. A teacher, like many others, who are tired of the ugly truths that bring these intrusive thoughts.

I am thankful for all the smiling faces that greeted me as they entered our beautiful school this morning. Those smiles helped push the sadness away.  

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.

Run Away

Bath towel
Pillowcase
Bedsheet
Any material will do
A giant eagle
Flying free
Surveying
The yard
Before perching
On the porch
Superman
Wearing
His cape
Ready
To swoop in
And save the day
Or maybe
A friendly ghost
Playing
A game of
Hide-n-seek
Shaking with
Silly giggles
Any material will do
When paired with
The wild imagination
Each child holds
Once they feel free
To let it run away

Why is it our imaginations seem to shrink as we get older? As a child, I could always see objects in the clouds. It still happens sometimes, but I often second-guess myself.

Dress-up clothes, imaginary friends, playing pretend. Crucial elements of childhood. Sadly, it is not so simple these days. I was reminded of this while talking to a crying student this morning.

Oh, to be able to help them feel safe. Safe enough to let imaginations run wild!

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.