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.

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! ❤️💚❤️

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.  

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.

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. ❤

More

Both familiar
And strange
How can this be?
Blonde hair
Streaks of gray
Blue eyes
Edged with lines
Same smile
Pretty much
My reflection
Is not all
I wish it was
Certain changes
Cause that
Familiar smile
To shrink
Until I look
Intently
Beyond
Temporary
Revealing
What resides
Within
Beauty
And ashes
Alike
Evidence
Of life’s
Experiences
Accumulated-
You are
More than
The reflection
Staring back at you

Two instances led to this reflection. The first one, a photograph. One in which I did not like the way I looked. At least, certain parts of me. The second, a comment from a student. I answered the question, What year were you born? 1967. The response-Then how in the world are you still alive?

That made me laugh. And then it made me smile. There is so much more to this life than how I look on any given day. And though I need to take better care of myself, the unseen will always be more important than the seen. So, in case you have any doubts-You are more! ❤️