A Matter of the Heart

I have a storage closet inside my music classroom. Shelves lining both walls hold musical instruments. There are stacks of chairs in one corner and drums in the other.

At various times in the year, certain sets come out.

There is a narrow walkway between the shelving.

More than once this school year, I’ve glanced in there with the following thought: would I be able to fit an entire class of students in here? I’m not sure. If I quickly moved some things out. But would there be enough time?

That is where I stop my spiraling thoughts. Any further, and they’d be unbearable.

Every day, I stand on the sidewalk outside my school. Along with colleagues and student volunteers, make sure kids get safely to their cars.

Several times during the year, I almost left my phone inside the building. But then one thought would invade-what if something happens? An emergency? And quickly, I’d put my phone in my back pocket.

I’m not the only one carrying the weight of such thoughts. But we rarely talk about them. Until another tragedy occurs and we realize it could have been our school, our students, or our friends.

I see the sweet faces of the Uvalde, TX victims in photos shared by loved ones. I see the desperation in the sobs of those left to mourn and question.

My heart breaks.

But my sadness quickly turns to anger as I listen to sound bites. As I hear political figures speak of rights instead of solutions, perpetrators instead of victims.

There are solutions. And please don’t tell me there are no laws or policy changes that would affect this epidemic of gun violence in our country. There are. And they are logical. Why do we refuse to take a stand in their favor? Well, that’s a matter of the heart.

https://www.nytimes.com/


Our descendants weep
As the blood
Of the innocent
Soaks the ground
Beneath the feet
Of misplaced allegiance

Only Tears

The sky wept
Thru the night
Quieting only
For moments
At a time
To take a quick
Breath of air
That offered
No relief

No lightening
To break
The vast darkness
No thunder
To break
The veil of grief
Only the tears
Of broken hearts
Forever flowing

It must have been raining all over the world.

When?

Another
School day
Filled with
Laughter
Learning
Love
Shattered
By sounds
Gunshots
Impact
Screams
Cries for help
Violent deaths
Followed by
Silence-
Children
Teachers
Hiding, frightened
Training put
Into action
Training
That should never
Have been necessary
For actions
That should never
Have occurred

When will we decide enough is enough?
When will we choose love instead of hate?
When will we weep instead of arguing?

Mourn for
Innocent lives
Left lying
On the floor
Of the very place
They should have been safe

Today was our last day of school. Smiles, tears, good-byes. Ready for summer break. I drove home, exhausted. And then, I heard the news of another school shooting at an elementary school.

Listening to the reports was heartbreaking. And then there was a comment about training. The fact that students and teachers were hiding as they practiced. The same drills I have had to discuss or practice with students. It should not be this way. 💔

Super Kids

Fresh air
Sunshine
Running
Jumping
Spinning
Friends
Playing
Getting ready
For summer-
Next year
Some will return
Some will move up
Some will move away
But today is not about that!
There will be
Scrapes and tears
Fusses and squabbles
Maybe even
A few rocks
Thrown
Yet, at the end of the day
What will they remember?
Playing with
Their friends
Being silly with
Their teachers
And, of course
Eating popsicles-
Because
Super Kids Day
Is all about super kids

From Above

A flash
Wings
Aflutter
An audible
Gasp!
One might
Think I had
Never seen
A cardinal
Before

Why so curious a reaction?

Marveling
Over a new
Perspective
Beauty on
Full display
Feathers
Unfurled
In-flight
Observed
From above

The school year is quickly winding down. Today was fifth-grade graduation! This group of kiddos can be challenging, but they also can surprise. Today, they rose to the occasion and sang My Shot from the musical Hamilton for their graduation ceremony.

Our district photographer captured a shot of me leading them. This tired teacher, ready for summer, was full of energy. Perhaps, like with the cardinal, it was all in my perspective. ❤️

Do I look excited, or what? 😉

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

Inner Voice

My brain hurts
Well, actually
I think it’s numb
Tired body
Tired heart
Words are
Bouncing
Around
In my head
Aim is off
Can’t seem
To find
Their way out
Maybe for the best
Probably wouldn’t
Sound the same
If I said them
Out loud
Perhaps writing
Them down
Would help…

Today, I…
Need to rest
Don’t want to listen
Don’t feel like engaging

Whew! Think I feel better!

After writing this poem, I had a revelation. If I feel this way some days, so do my students. And while I can put my feelings into words, that is not always easy for children.

Ok, so maybe this wasn’t a revelation, but it was a reminder. I need to be aware of facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice-mine and my students. Tempering my actions and reactions by keeping the clues close at heart. ❤️

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. ❤️

Two Recommendations

Every sound
Amplified
As if a megaphone
Was pointed directly
Into my ear
Each step
Heavier than
The one before
I try to smile
It’s not all bad
But, yesterday was great!
Why does today feel so opposite?

Same place
Same plans
The same me-I think
So, what could it be?
Energy expended
Yesterday
Not recouped
For today
Just two recommendations-
First, listen as
Five and six-year-olds
Sing their favorite songs
Second, go home
And take a nap

A great day of teaching requires a great deal of energy. Those where I wake up rested and ready tend to be the best. I can focus on the students and the music, all of us engaged and having fun.

But oh, those days when I did not sleep well the night before. Or some unexpected stress. Those days can be a struggle. My lack of energy affects my focus. If I am not engaged, neither are my students.

Teaching is both challenging and rewarding work! Some days will not go as planned. But some days are not all days. Children singing, particularly songs from the movie Encanto, and naps help. 😉 ❤️

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.