An Old Friend

A jeans and t-shirt girl
That is what I call myself
Oh, I enjoy getting dressed up
For the occasional night out
But if you ask my preference
The answer never changes-
A comfy pair of jeans
And a favorite t-shirt
Now, those jeans can’t be comfy
Without a little wear
Walking down a rugged path
Resting on a large rock or two
Carrying smooth pebbles in my pocket-
They find their purpose that way
Not just a protective covering
No, much more
A reminder of where I’ve been-
Legs crossed sitting by the fire
Those jeans feel like an old friend-
And the t-shirt?
Well… if it’s my James Taylor t-shirt
There is no contest-

Today was a virtual/distance learning day for students in our district. Yes, we know in-person learning is best. But when so many teachers, staff, and regular subs are out sick, it makes in-person learning pretty much impossible.

That meant I pushed out music lessons/activities for students on an online platform. I receive a notification each time a student submits a response. They always make me smile.

After lunch, I noticed a stack of boxes near my classroom. I quickly discovered they were the new keyboards recently ordered for my piano class! Ten of them, complete with stands, headphones, pedals. I’ve got some work to do tomorrow!

This may not have been an ideal teaching day. But there were bright spots. And here I am, sitting on the floor in front of those beautiful boxes, wearing a favorite pair of jeans and a school t-shirt. It was a good day…

Not my James Taylor t-shirt, but it will do. ❤️

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

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.

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! ❤️

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. 😉❤️

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/

Spaces

Certain spaces
In this life
Feel empty
Certain spaces
In this life
Look dark
Even though
They are not-
Not completely-
Each of us
Fills the moments
Of our days
Each of us
Fills the span
Of our years
No matter
The length
Of said spaces
Even when
We are alone
Light remains-
Your light
May seem faint
For a time…wait
Allow me
To see it
And together
Our days
Will be brighter
Our years
Fulfilled

Yesterday was the last day of school. The last day of school for a tough year. Teaching and attending during a pandemic created challenges we continue to process.

Certain times of the year felt dark, frustrating. But as time went on, stresses seemed to lift a little at a time. We accepted our new normal and continued to do what we do.

As school ended yesterday, I was not prepared for the tears from students. Uncontrollable crying over the idea of leaving their current teachers.

Teacher friends, don’t ever doubt the influence of your light in the classroom. Even while dealing with our own concerns and fears, students saw lighthouses in the storm.

Now it is time to rest. Time to reflect. Time to stoke the remaining embers and prepare to see those faces smiling back at us in August!

Happy Summer! ❤

Rock-a-Bye-Baby

My parents rocked me when I was a baby. They sang lullabies, read stories. Made sure I was cared for. I grew up around babies-younger cousins and my brother. I rocked, fed, sang, and played with them. The example had been set for me. When I had my own children, I knew what to do, or at least, where to begin.

Not everyone has that experience. And some that do become so bombarded with the struggles of this life, they forget what is vital. When this happens, the next generation suffers.

Little brains and bodies don’t develop as they should. Gaps are created in connecting, learning, functioning. I see the results of these holes in growth every day. Improvement is possible, but it takes time and focused intention.

And then there are those days…brief moments of light shine through.  A smile, a hug, a lightbulb turning on.  The reason may not always be clear, but the result is cherished.  I wrote the following poem after one of those days. 

Holding on to the hope for more like it in the future. ❤

TOOTHY GRIN

The first time
I saw you
My only thought-
Do you ever smile?
Not even a hint
In your distant
Young eyes
And then one day
A toothy grin
Shone through
Your tough shell
Brief and unsure
But sweetly present
Reminding me
That you are
A child in need of
Reasons to smile
Hoping another
Reason will find
You again soon
Turning that
Toothy grin into
A beaming smile-
Lasting and confident

Teacher Heart

Confession time. This teacher’s heart, mind, and body are struggling. Each day brings physical and emotional exhaustion. This is not about complaining or seeking validation. I am acknowledging that we are in a difficult season.

Life is full of difficult seasons. This is not the first and will most certainly not be the last. Such is the world in which we live. It is just that I am having a difficult time dealing with this one.

One day can feel like a rollercoaster. One hour, I have a great class, kids engaged, lightbulbs going off. The next, I allow something small to wash away the positive. A problem with technology (shh…do not tell my husband.) 😉 My attitude, maybe a student’s attitude-it doesn’t matter which. I’m suddenly trying not to cry, counting the minutes until I can hide in the bathroom between classes and regain my composure.

My thoughts quickly move towards an “I don’t think I can do this” attitude. And every time this happens, encouragement follows.

An encouraging word from my husband. “You are stronger than you think you are.”

An encouraging comment from a colleague. “You inspire me.”

An encouraging email from another colleague. “M and T told me all about strong and weak beats…that music lesson stuck with them!”

All I see is that one word…encouraging. And these are only a few examples from the last several days. The individuals who shared their thoughts may not have realized the power held in their words, but I felt it in my teacher-heart. Their messages brought smiles to brighten my day and tears to wash away my doubts…renewal.

Renewal…the next focus word. Something we all must learn to practice. I am practicing it right now. Today, it looks like taking a personal day and a long drive. A time away, visiting my own parents. A time to rest and be loved as a daughter.

Other days, the renewal will look different. An evening walk with my husband. Taking time to play the piano. Talking to a friend. Writing, painting, something creative to ease my anxious mind. All things to help renew my heart, soul, and body so I can continue doing what I’m called to do for however long I’m called. ❤