Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Loved People, Heal People

When I first started writing on For the Love, the original focus was never education advocacy and policy, it just kind of turned out that way. I don't regret ever making the shift to that simply because I saw a need and I felt that I had a unique voice that could be added to the mix of already amazingly talented #oklaed bloggers.

My original intent of starting this blog was to tell my story, my journey in how I built relationships with others. I have always felt that my strength was building people up and making them feel loved. This is something that has been on my heart for weeks and something that someone out there in the world needs. 

Hurt People, Hurt People

I don't know how many times I have read that phrase, have had someone say it to me, or I have even said it myself. There are hurting people around us all the time. I would even venture to say that as educators, we might have more hurting people around us than most. I know that sitting on my choral risers are kids that are in pain, and carry deep hurt. They lash out, they misbehave, some of them retreat within themselves, and others just put on a smile and continue with their day. I can't even begin to understand what some of those kids go through on the daily. My job as an educator is not only to teach them notes and rhythms on a page, the right tone, and vowel shaping but to show them how they can heal their hurt with those things. 

Hurting people sometimes don't even know that they are hurting. Hurting people sometimes aren't aware that they are hurting others. Let me tell ya, loving a hurting person is so damn hard. Why? Because one of two things happen, that person will accept your love and begin to heal themselves and relationships around them, or what is sometimes the most common, they will continue to hurt you, others, and themselves and at that point, you just have to walk away. 

Loved People, Love People

I love people, or at least I try to love all people. I have been very open, honest, raw, and transparent on For the Love over the past three months. This has not been easy. Sharing my soul, with others has been hard. I have been hurt a lot, by hurting people. I won't go into details because that is when gossip starts and more damage happens, but I have spent hours in tears. I have spent days questioning everything that I believe. I have had moments that I thought about walking away from this blog because I was being hurt by it. Hurt people, hurt people, but oh friends may we never lose sight of the fact that loved people, love people. I would even venture to say that loved people, heal people. 

Loved People, Heal People

I could be so easy to continue in a cycle of hurt. That if you have been hurt to continue to hurt others. But what lessons do we learn in that, how do we heal brokenness if we continue to hurt and cause harm to others. The answer is we can't. The easy road to take would be for me to harbor feelings of ill will and hate towards those that hurt, and I will admit that there have been times in the past few months that I have wished ill will on those that hurt me. However, I made a choice to take the more difficult path. Forgiveness and moving on. Forgiveness doesn't mean that you want and need that person in your everyday life, in many cases it means moving on with your life so you can continue to love others. Sometimes and especially with students when we love them, when we accept them for the glorious, beautiful mess that they are, we heal them. We heal the hurt, and they are no longer hurt people, but they are healed people that then become loved people. It is beautiful when it happens. We break that cycle of hurt that is running rampant in our society today.

But then sometimes, we have to walk away. Those times are the hardest and scariest. Those are the times that we just don't know how we move forward. This weekend I made the decision to love those that have hurt me, hurt my family, hurt my friends, and even hurt my students, but I decieded that forgiving them also meant walking away. I could have choosen to continue to hate, but I choose to love instead. For the love, wouldn't it be great if everyone could do the same? 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Dear Educator, 2017 Edition

Dear Educator,

A little over a year ago I wrote to you, and it seems we are in the same spot again this year. However, this time seems to be worse. I have struggled this school year, and I have been very honest and real with those struggles. There have been beautiful and meaningful moments, but those moments were fraught with hardship and pain.

This school year we have endured the failure of SQ 779, the circling voucher wolves, Betsy DeVos, and a revenue failure and the hurtful and harmful cuts to education.I can't sugarcoat this; it has sucked. But...we have such great power. There are those that are out there that want to diminish our power, our light, our impact, but for the love don't let them do it! Don't let them win. Be strong and fierce. Keep changing the world.

To the classroom teacher, I am in the same place you are right now: do I stay or do I walk away. I love this profession, I love my job, but the abuses of those in power are to much to handle sometimes. We are asked to do way more with less. But we do it anyways because we love kids. Right now you are enduring test prep, music contests, and all the other various aspects of our jobs. All the while backing plan B, C, D, E, and F for you and your family. Just remember that kids you have now need, but there will be kids anywhere that need you. You are changing and impacting lives every day. Is it easy, no! But you show up, and you do it. I love you, and for the love, I will fight for you as much as I can!

To the building principal, I don't envy your position. You are wondering what your staffing will look like next year. You see the writing on the wall, you are asked much, and you have to pass that along to your staff. You are tasked to lead teams of people that are tired, worried, and scared, but you handle it with grace. Your leadership doesn't go unnoticed. You are also carrying the feelings of what comes next for you. Do you stay or do you go. Not to mention you deal with parents and students and handle their needs when the classroom teacher needs you too. Thank you for what you are doing.

To the superintendents out there, I cannot even imagine the weight of the world that you are feeling. I cannot begin to even understand the pressures that you feel. Not to mention that most of you have to make these difficult decisions that directly impact people's lives, in total isolation. I have others that I can frankly and freely talk to, but you sometimes don't get that luxury. You are the face of your school districts both the good and the bad. Many of you are the most selfless people that I know. You endure and carry not only the hopes of your teachers and staff but your students and your communities. You are making the hard choices every day, and while some may get angry, you are doing the best you can with the hand that you are dealt. I am so grateful for you.

Finally to my fellow education bloggers, it has been a little rough and crazy! Thank you for using your voice in this community. Blogging is never easy; it is in many ways an extension of ourselves. It is hard not to take the attacks and comments personally. I know I have had my fair share of it this year, and so many have offered their love and support. Keep raising the bar of the level of discussion and keep people accountable. Somewhere there is a person that needs to hear the words you are writing.

I know that the words of some unicorn and rainbows loving music teacher, but not be enough. Just keep fighting, don't let anyone take away your power. Keep changing the world.

For the Love,

Meghan

Monday, February 27, 2017

This World Could Be Full Of Love

A few weeks ago I wrote a post that was so incredibly difficult to write. This school year, not just for myself but for others, as been full of hardships. I would even venture to say that the last two months have been the worst.

Writing that post was a game changer for me. Have all the things gotten easier? No, they haven’t, and in some respects, they have gotten worst. But what changed? What changed was how I thought about myself and my teaching.

In my planner each and every day I write the words Be Present at the top of the page. This reminder to be present has changed my thought process. I don’t have time to worry about the future because I am focused on my present.

Being present is hard some days. Some days it takes everything I have to hold it together. But I have to hold it together. I have 180 lives that are needing my time and my direction. Today was a rough start to my day. In addition to dealing with the normal crazy middle school choir life and all that comes with it, I was keeping my eyes on Oklahoma Senate Education Committee's meeting. My blood pressure was going through the roof. Because some of this stuff is just bat crap crazy! I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried in one of my classes today, not because it was terrible and I wanted to die, but because it was beautiful and I needed to hear it.

My sixth-grade girls are working on this lovely and lyrical piece called “This World is Full of Beauty,” music by Tom Shelton and text by Gerald Massey and they love it. Just read these words these young ladies sing.

There lives a voice within me, an angel of my heart,
its sweet voice calls to me ‘till the tears begin to start.
Up evermore it springs like some magic melody,
And evermore it sings this sweet song of songs to me.
This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above,
And if we did our duty it might be full of love.
If faith and hope and kindness passed as love between our hearts.
How, through my tears and sadness, should my soul have a fresh start!
The dreary, dim and desolate should wear a sunny bloom,
And love should spring from buried hate, like flowers over winter’s tomb.
This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above,
And if we did our duty it might be full of love.
The leaves of the forest, and the flowers of the sod,
The happy birds that sing their songs in the ear of God.
The summer wind that carries music over land and sea,
Each has a voice that sings this sweet song of songs to me.
This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above,
And if we did our duty it might be full of love.
This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above,
And if we did our duty, this world would be full of love.


It is okay if you are crying right now because I am. Now picture some of sweetest sixth-grade girls in the world singing this song, you all have my permission to cry.

Right now I don’t feel like this world is full of beauty and it surely doesn’t feel full of love. But I have to be present. I have to have full on glittery unicorn faith that this will be okay. That this world would be full of love. I haven’t given up on love.

Educators, I know that this future is scary. Trust me, I’m making Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, and Plan E as well. Please as you plan for what is next, be present. Make this world full of beauty and love. It starts with us; it starts with those of us that are on the ground in this battle everyday. We have to, if only because right now you need beauty and love in your own lives. I don’t know about you, but I need a world full of beauty and a world full of love. Because I have this song that world needs to hear, and I’m not going to stop singing it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Dear Oklahoma....again.

Dear Oklahoma House of Representatives and Senate,

Hello, it’s me Meghan, the For the Love girl. Some you know and love me, and others well you know me.

One year ago I wrote to you asking what you would do address to the looming revenue failure and the educational funding crisis. Here I am again, doing the same thing. I was super nice and sweet in that letter.

To spend money, you have to make money. If tax cuts, slashing agency budgets, borrowing and borrowing some more, and other totally terrible options didn’t work, why are you still doing it? As a Choral Music Educator, when something doesn’t go right, and my students sing wrong pitches and rhythms, do I let them move on? No! We fix it. I look for the root of the problem, and I address it. After I address it, I put a plan in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Guess what, it happened again. You didn’t fix the problem. We are in a revenue failure again.

Everyone is feeling the cuts; there is no denying this fact. School districts are being cut $11.1 million dollars. What does that mean for me? Well for my school district that means roughly $10.09 less per student, I teach in one of the largest school districts in the state. For the love, you knew this was coming, and you did nothing.

By all means, let’s keep writing voucher bills that take away more money from public education and absolute nonsense bills that would get shot down by the Supreme Court in a heartbeat instead of focusing on finding actual and workable solutions to the problem.

Seriously, it is time for you to nut up or shut up. I was nice in my first letter to you, but not so much anymore. The people of Oklahoma sent you to the State House with a job to do, and it is time for you to do that job. Don’t let it be May and the week before the session is over before you pass a workable and common sense budget. If not, I don’t think the people of Oklahoma will be as forgiving this time around. Or at least I don't think they will, they re-elected most of you wackadoodles.

With Unicorns and Glittery Rainbows,

Meghan

P.S. OCPA-Come at me bro.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Swipe Right? Swipe Left?

Being a single woman in the 21st century can be difficult, but hey online dating and dating apps make everything better! Between Bumble and Tinder, it has never been easier to get those Saturday night plans in the works. it all comes down to a swipe right or swipe left. Not that I know how any of this works...

In my experience with online dating, happy I admitted that did that; there are four different types of guys you will meet online. They are all terrible.

Guy number one, we will call him Sathan Sahm or Mr. Hello Are You Out There. You craft the best message. This message perfectly describes who you are and what you do. You are passionate, witty, and so educated in your words. Message sent and...nothing. Not a reply. Not a single hello, how are you today graces your inbox. Then you realize how much of a waste of time it was to send that email. Let’s add a little salt to that wound, you see on social media that he is still alive and making quite the name for himself, but he can’t respond your email. Boy Bye. I got better things to do with my life.

Guy number two, we will call him Myle Shameless or the Insta-boyfriend. You go out on one little date and all of sudden he knows what is best for you. He is planning what you wear to work, what you eat, what you should be doing at your job, how you should do your job, how much you workout, the budget for your wedding, when you can buy that perfect house, and how many kids you will have-you are having five via all natural births with no drugs. Of course, you know the only reason you went on this date in the first place was that money was tight and you wanted a free meal and some wine. (Side note: I freely admit to have done this before.) But he knows what is best for you and no matter what he will make sure you know what. Again...Boy Bye. I got better things to do with my life.

Guy number three, we will call him Tosh Brickin, or Colonel Not-So-Serious. He appears that he could be the serious relationship and what you are looking for in a man.Then you get to know him a little bit more, and you find that he is a total goofball with no substance. However, he has no clue that he is a total goofball with no substance. Again with the Beyonce...Boy Bye. I got better things to do with my life.

Guy number four, the worst kind. We will call Tan Mirby or Mr. Hey Baby Do You Wanna. With this guy one simple “Hello, how are you?’” the message gets a steamy reply of all the sexual encounters that he wants to have you. Bro, I don’t even know you. Not today Satan, in fact not ever! Boy Bye.

I can’t quite think of any guys worse than the ones I just described. Now I know you all like, Meghan, I know your blog is called For the Love, but isn't this blog about education and education policy in Oklahoma? Did I not just describe some members of the Oklahoma State Legislature? Why yes I did! I told you there would be a connection! Just remember when in doubt, swipe left.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Not Lived In Vain

One of my biggest passions in life is education. I love guiding students through the world of choral music and watching them explore all that it has to offer. In my short six-year teaching career the past two years have been revolutionized by my training in the Kodaly method of teaching music. I have blogged twice about my Kodaly training, and you can read about my Level I and Level II experiences.

Now I could totally nerd out start talking solfege and how to teach concepts within the sequence for hours, or days, or months. Okay fine I’m a Kodaly nerd, and I have no problem admitting it. However since the confirmation of a particular Secretary of Education, a quote of Zolton’s Kodaly has been in my mind for days.



It is our firm conviction that mankind will live happier when it has learned to live with music more worthily. Whoever works to this end, one way or another has not lived in vain.

For the love, excuse me as I ugly cry.

This is a huge time of confusion and uncertainty for educators across America, but to my fellow music teachers, this truth is for you. What you do day in and day out is not in vain. You do more than teaching notes and rhythms on a page; you show beauty, artistry, passion, dedication, and hard work. What you do matters so very much. You are doing this with more kids and less funding and support. This is not in vain; you are making mankind happier. Keep making mankind happier. Hold on to this truth, and don’t forget it.

To all educators out there, Zolton Kodaly was fiercely in love with his beloved country of Hungary. He was teaching and promoting the will of the Hungarian people during WWII when it was Nazi-occupied and during the Soviet takeover. He held on the truth that educating all people was the key to Hungary being free one day. I can’t even begin to imagine what he felt during this time. I can even venture to say that he must have felt that this was the hardest time to be an educator. I wonder how many in America are feeling this right now. Kodaly fought against the powers that be in the most amazing way; he fought back by teaching children how to sing. He fought back by surrounding himself with the best educators that sought to do the best for children. He fought back with music education for all, not just the wealthy elite. He didn’t live in vain. And guess what neither are you. You are not living in vain. You are changing so many lives. Keep fighting. Keep loving kids. Keep holding those in power accountable. Eat donuts. Believe in unicorns. Don’t stop being awesome. We will survive this chapter, and we won’t go down without a fight.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Past, Future, and Present

I am drowning. I am overwhelmed. I am the most ineffective educator on the planet right now. Those words and those thoughts have plagued me for the past four months. This school year has been so rough and so difficult for many different reasons, but nonetheless, it has been the most emotionally and physically draining thing I have ever experienced. I love teaching, and I love teaching middle school kids how to sing, and this is all I have ever wanted to do. However, there were moments that I just wanted to walk away and never look back.


What have I found out? I’m not the only educator feeling this right now. Hello, we are in a battle for our very profession. We are calling Senators left and right begging them to do the right thing and vote no for a Secretary of Education that has never even taught or attended a public school. We have to defend ourselves and our profession daily. No wonder we are tired. No wonder we have nothing left to give. We pour our heart and souls into the lives of our students and then we have to turn around and defend what we do. It is heartbreaking.


Not to mention that these days we seem to demand more and more from our students, not because we want too, but because we have to for the sake of progress. All the while we forget that they are just kids. Case in point, no eight-year old should ever be stressed about a test ever.


The past two weeks have been the worst in my teaching career. I have worked crazy long hours, and then I come home and cry over it. I cry because I’m killing my own of love music, and if I’m killing my love of music what am I doing to my students? How terrible does that make me? I have allowed my emotional needs and hurt negatively impact my students. I want to build a positive culture, and I have done nothing of the sorts.

Then my college professor posted this on Facebook. Dr. Lilite is one of the most important educators in my life. Who I am today is a direct reflection of the time and energy that he put into making me a great singer and a great educator. These were the words that my heart and my soul were so needing to hear.




Go to your past-I have wanted to be a middle school choir teacher since I was a middle school choir student. I was never the worst student ever, but school was a struggle. The choir was my outlet, my safe place, and where I felt the most successful. As I grew older, I realized I that I was called to do the same for kids that my middle school choir teacher did for me. My past helps my present.


Go to your future-The future of public education is up in the air. I am scared for my students, my colleagues, and my profession that I love. However, this will not stop me from making my voice heard. This won’t stop me from continually doing the right thing and seeking others to do the same.


Go to your present- To my students: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you haven’t had the best of me. I’m sorry that I have stretched myself so thin that I have done the same to you. I want you to love music; I want to see how beautiful and life-changing it can be. I don’t want you ever to be stressed about it. I’m sorry that I have done this to you. To my colleagues: I’m sorry that I allowed my burn out to effect our mission to effect our goal. I will seek beauty, I will seek goodness, and I will seek happiness. I will allow only joy. I maybe crazy busy, but I will allow my busy life to be a source of joy for others. But I won’t let my health and sanity go by the wayside.

I believe that there is hope in public education and my teaching because that is all I have left to hold onto.