Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Right Side of History has been awhile.

I have decided to come out of blogger retirement because the next couple of days, weeks, and months will be so important to the State of Oklahoma. You have heard by now that if the Oklahoma State Legislature does not meet the April 1st budget deadline with a budget that includes a 10,000 dollar pay raise for teachers, 5,000 dollars for support staff, increased education funding and steady revenue streams, teachers across Oklahoma will be walking out and rally at the the capital until the legislature does their job.

Last week I was asked to speak on behalf of teachers in my district to our Board of Education as they considered a resolution to support teachers by suspending school in the event of a teacher walkout. Below is what I shared:

Good evening and thank you for allowing me this time to address you. My name is Meghan Loyd and I am the Choir Director at Midwest City High School. This would be much easier for me to sing this to you instead of speaking it, but I will save everyone from that tonight! I can tell you that I have wanted to be a teacher since my first day of kindergarten. I remember when I was in elementary school I would come home from school and play “teacher,” I would line up my stuffed animals and teach them what I had learned in school that day. Then I discovered music and fell in love. I know that I was meant to be a Choir teacher. I love my job, I love my students, I love my school, and I love my district. I do not want to walk out of school. I do not want to be away from my students. I want to know that they are safe and fed. However it has become apparent that after years of blogging, sending emails, making phone calls, lobbying, working on the campaigns for pro-education candidates and for pro-education state questions, we have come to the last option. It is scary. It is one thing that I never wanted it to come to, but this what we need to do.

This is more than just walk out for higher teacher pay, this is a walkout for the future of Oklahoma. There are some that will say that we are giving up on our students, but I believe that is false. We are walking because every student deserves a highly qualified certified teacher in their classrooms. We are walking because every student deserves up to date textbooks, not ones held together by tape and glue. We are walking because we want fully funded classrooms where teachers don’t have to worry about supplies, and we can focus on providing the highest quality of education for our students. We are walking because we are tired of seeing the best and brightest education majors leave this state for higher paying teaching jobs across the state line. We are walking for a pay raise for educators and support staff that is ten years overdue. I am walking for talented student musicians that I get to work with every single day.

I know that this is something that we would have hoped to avoid. However if the legislature fails to meet the April 1st budget deadline, with a budget that funds pay raises for not only teachers and support staff, and brings back common education funding to the 2008 levels, I ask that you, as the Mid-Del Public Schools Board of Education, vote to support teachers and staff in a work stoppage. I ask that you support us, as we go to the Capital and fight for our students. I know that this a scary thing, but I know we have reached a crossroads in Oklahoma’s history and I hope that Mid-Del will be on the right side of history.

In the meantime, I encourage everyone in this room to email, call, visit, and write to your legislators asking them to work together to meet the April 1st budget deadline, in hopes that we can prevent this work stoppage. I am not from Oklahoma, I’m from Arkansas. I could easily go home and teach in a position where I am paid more and be closer to my family, which my mother would love but I love Oklahoma, I love Midwest City, and this is my home. I am proud to be a Bomber!

Thank you for your time and thank you for service to the students, teachers, staff, parents, and community of Mid-Del Public Schools.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Teacher Tired

So once upon a time, I wrote on another blogging platform called The Odyssey. It was really great for me at the time and it exposed me to an audience that I normally wouldn't have on this blog. But they had weekly writing requirements and then life started to get crazy. So I kind of just gave up. Two of my most popular posts on that platform happened to be about bras and teacher tired. I won't be talking about bras here, but let me tell you. The struggle is real...teacher tired is real. If you googled 'ain't no tired like teacher tired' you will see my face. Look at that screenshot.

I AM SO TIRED. On the first day of school, I came home and went to bed at 7:30 pm. On a Friday night, I am a young woman in my prime and I'm going to bed at 7:30. I am at a new school this year, and my thought was a new school, new Meghan. I will finally have my life together. I forgot that I don't get to go to the bathroom whenever I want during the school year. I needed to pee all day. I forgot that my voice hurts because of all the singing and talking. I forgot that my feet hurt. How do I forget this stuff every single year?

That first of year teacher tired is then replaced by Fall Break teacher tired, then Winter Break and Semester One finals teacher tired, then Spring Break/April Spring Testing window teacher tired, and then the school year is over teacher tired. So really we are just tired all year long. And all the time. Then we are expected to you know have a social life and love our families on the side. I can't y'all, I can't do it y'all. I'm sure there are people out there that want me to be a social butterfly and all relationshippy and fall in love and all that crap. I just want to go to bed at 7:30 pm, eat 15 donuts and waste away this prime time in my life.

So here is the thing, this tired is worth it. Yes, I am tired, but this means that I'm just giving my best for my students. It is okay that we are tired. If we aren't tired I would question a few things.

So one day I will sleep again. I will be relaxed and calm. That was a lie, I will never be relaxed and calm. But for now, I am a tired teacher. I am 100% okay with being a tired teacher.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Kids are Kids

If you have known me for any extended about of time, you will know that I love teaching middle school. I have gushed about it.

I said I would never teach high school Choir...well....

I know I have only officially been a high school choir teacher for a week, but the grade level that I didn't want to teach, never envisioned myself teaching, or even thought I could be good enough to teach. I am in love. I am in love with every part of teaching choral music to these fabulous singers of mine.

Some differences that I'm so in love with, in high school kids that are in Choir choose to be there. They have a vested interest in being there. In middle school, especially with many of the latest middle school trends with teaming and core teacher common planning, kids have limited electives options and many times they are just placed in Choir and other electives. Thus becoming a dumping ground. You have the combination of kids that want to be there and kids that don't and your teaching becomes a dog and pony show. In high school, they catch on to things faster. They remember things more and there isn't a ton of re-teaching the materials from the previous day. Plus I really can't stress this enough, in high school, they have that internal motivator that middle school kids just don't have yet. But my favorite thing....THE BOYS VOICES HAVE CHANGED!!! Sorry not sorry for my excitement on that one. Also, you can't beat the school pride that is felt at the high school level.

However, there are many things that are the same. I get to expose kids to the quality choral music that they otherwise wouldn't get to be exposed to and I get to build a community. Kids are Kids. Kids just want to be loved and they want to be heard. They want to feel valued. My middle school students wanted this, and guess what my high school students want this too.

This goes for teaching at any grade level. Students want to have a voice, they want to be valued and heard. We as educators have to ensure that we give our students a voice. After all, it is their education, shouldn't they have some say in it?

So here I am today eating my words, I said I would never teach high school and yet here I am. But I can tell you one thing for damn sure, I will NEVER teach elementary music. For those of you that do it, thank you for your service. You deserve sainthood. For those of you that teach middle school Choir, keep loving it and keep helping kids fall in love with the art form. For my high school colleagues, let's go change the world and help these kids reach the highest heights.

For the Love, all educators let's do that last part no matter what kid level you teach.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Relationships Matter

My Sequoyah Teacher Squad
As educators, we hear the phrase, "build relationships with your students" all the time. It is true this is something that we as educators need to be doing, we need to be building healthy and effective relationships with our students. Kids need to know that we care. Another phrase that gets tossed around is "kids don't learn from people that they don't like." This is true as well. Our kids respond better when we take that time to get to know them. What they like and don't like. How they learn. What their lives at home might be like. These are all important things that we need to know. Relationships Matter.

But there is another relationship that matters. The relationship between educators. We need each other. We need our community. We can't do this by ourselves.

If you know me you pretty well, you know that I'm a big extrovert(ENFP for life) and making friends has always been pretty easy for me. At my old school, I had a group of ladies that were some of my closest friends. When needed help with our students, needed a laugh, needed a round at Happy Hour, or just needed to reach out and cry we had each other's back. Not only were they my friends in my school building but they were my friends outside of that building. Our text threads are pretty hilarious.

Well...I moved to a new school. In another district. In another city two hours away. In a moment of total realness. This has been one of the hardest things that I have done, new things are always scary. I'm so excited and looking forward to this new journey and a new chapter in my life, but it comes with some bittersweet writing.

Like I said, making friends has always come pretty natural to me. But I'm struggling, I'm having a hard time. While it might be easier to just stay in my classroom and keep my head down and just plow through. That is not what is best for me and for my students. What makes me happy and "centered" in my life? People. I need people. If kids learn from people they like. Kids won't learn from overwhelmed, sad, and lonely Meghan. Educators need other educators. We need each other. We are better together and we need this community. We need it to sharpen our own skills as educators, we need adult contact because we spend all day with children. We need adult conversation! In this day in age in education, we need to advocate for each other. We stand up for each other. We go to other educators when we have our "teacher hearts" broken. They are shoulders to cry on and the perfect person to partner with on those dress up days.

I'm struggling to find my place and finding my squad, I know that it will get easier. I also know that this bluesy feeling I will be gone once kids show up. This takes time and it won't be overnight, but it will get better. It is already getting there! I have already started building important and needed relationships.

Educators, please don't try to do this on your own. You will get burned out so quickly. We need people. So find your squad. Celebrate your squad. Go out with your squad. Hold tight to anyone that you have ever said is a part of your squad, no matter what school you are at. Teachers, you are amazing people and you are even better when you surround yourself with like minded people that love and support you, but also call you out when you are in the wrong. Reach out. Always remember that relationships matter.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Excuse Me, What?

I have been in church since I was born. I have struggled with my faith at times but I have never once believed that my faith in Christ would destroy children. But apparently according to Christian blogger Matt Walsh I'm destroying America.

The public school system is not dedicated to the destruction of Christian values. The public school system is dedicated to the education of America's children. All of them. Every single one. With any type of institution, including the church, there are problems. The public education system has flaws, we have our problems and our issues. Because we live in a far from perfect and broken world. This tweet Mr. Walsh is not only offensive to public educators, but to the thousands of Christian parents that send their children to public schools.

Mr. Walsh, did you know that the beginning of every school year I pray over every seat in my classroom and the kids that will sit in those chairs, including the ones that might not believe the same things I do? Did you know that buy Christmas presents for the ones that I know might not get presents on Christmas Day? Did you know that rejoice with my students in their successes, mourn with them when they are hurting, and spend many restless nights worry about their well being?

Each day I shower my kids with love, compassion, and kindness. There are days that I mess up and thank God there is grace. Jesus showed these same values too. So how am I destroying Christian values?

I am a broken woman and a sinner. I struggle with sin every day. I'm far from perfect, which is the reason I need Jesus. Every single day.

So your tweet, Mr. Walsh will not change who I am or what I believe in. I will still be a public educator. I will still fight for public education. I will show the love of Christ to those I meet every day. I will give grace because it was freely given to me. Even to you, I will extend that same grace. Mr. Walsh, what are you doing to show those values?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Take The Leap

Each summer I find myself around this time sitting in this same spot. With my computer in front of me, and that beautiful Tulsa skyline out my window. In this spot I wrote my goals for the upcoming school year, revised my syllabus, worked on the calendar for the year, made lists of repertoire that I was looking forward to possibly teaching. This time, it is different. This time I sit here weeks away from moving not only to a new school but a new grade level and a new city. I hope in the next few paragraphs you will accept my deep vulnerability. that you will read these words with compassion and with understanding.

I am so nervous. I am so scared.

This time in Tulsa has been such an intense period of growth in my life. Probably one of the biggest. I moved here as a young 22-year-old girl ready to change the world in my middle school choir classroom. In a few short weeks, I leave here as a 28-year-old woman ready to change the world in my high school classroom. In this season of my life, I have been blessed with the richest friendships, covered in love, and challenged. This is comfortable. It is familiar. It is safe.

I am taking one of the biggest leaps of faith I have ever taken. While I am nervous and scared, I am hopeful. I am expecting things that are bigger than my thoughts can even begin to comprehend. Like Friday Night Lights says, Clear Eyes and Full Hearts. Well maybe not clear eyes, I cry a lot.

For weeks I have been telling myself that I can't be nervous or scared. You know what, my students need to see that I'm nervous and scared. Because I'm human, my students are human chances are they are scared and nervous. It is so okay to be nervous and scared. What is not okay? To do nothing about it. I am nervous and scared, but I also I know that I am knowledgeable in my content, that I love kids, that I am the best Meghan Loyd that I know how to be. I am a hot mess, but I have embraced and nurtured those messy corners of my life. Students, especially teenagers need to see this type of vulnerability in their teachers. How can they relate to us and trust us if we pretend to be whole and perfect people? When that is far from the truth, we are broken and imperfect, and that makes us beautiful. Now before the classroom management police come after me, yes teenagers smell fear from a mile away. We must be the adult in our classroom. We must set the expectation and the example, but we must do so with realness and with compassion. Confidence is great, arrogance has no place in the classroom.

I have been trusted to lead students in one of the most beautiful and life changing art forms out there. I have been trusted to develop not only student leaders but leaders from my middle school feeder patterns. It is a lot, but oh for the love how wonderful it is! I thank God every day that I get to do this. That I get to take this leap of faith. I love the Bible story of Esther and who knows maybe this is my "for such a time as this." With clear eyes and a full and grateful a heart, I leap forward. What if I fall? There is someone there to catch me. What if I fly? I sprinkle glitter everywhere I go!

So what is your leap of faith? What is calling you out of your comfort zone? What is holding you back? For the love, take the leap. I'll hold your hand and we can do it together.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

30 by 30

Being a blogger can be really rough sometimes. You pour a lot of your heart and soul into what you have to say, and then you push it out for thousands of people to read, or in my case like ten people to read. Focusing on education and educational issues has been time-consuming and draining. And I'm pretty sure no one even cared anyways. So this blog is doing a little change up. I will still write a few things about teaching, education, and the all that crap. 

So in 445 days, I turn 30. As I was thinking about this milestone moment in my life, I came up with a list of things I have always wanted to do. I will call it my 30 by 30 list. 

Some of the things on this list are really ambitious, and I might not accomplish all of them, but this more about the journey that I will be taking. What I find most interesting is that really only one of the things on this list relates to my career. I'm totally okay with this. 

These are in no particular order, I just put them in some form of a list. Some of these are specific, and some are pretty general. As I accomplish a thing on a list, I will write about it. Again, it this is not about accomplishing everything on the list but the journey that it will take me one. If I do accomplish everything on the list, amazeballs. This is going to fun. This is going to be challenging. This is going to hard. This is going to be joyous, and this is going to be best year ever. 

1. Complete a 5k without having to walk. 
2. See the West Coast.
3. Go on a solo trip to Europe.
4. Pay down some debt.
5. Run the OKC Memorial Half Marathon.
6. Go to Boston.
7. Go on a super cool hiking/camping trip.
8. Read all the Sherlock Holmes books...or at least listen to them on Audible.
9. Take a Slo-Mo jumping video in Times Square.
10. See the Grand Canyon.
11. See a glacier.
12. Go skydiving.
13. Move into a house.
14. Beach trip anywhere (I have done this before lots of times, but I could always go for more beach times).
15. Go to Canada.
16. Attend a national conference of some kind.
17. Spa trip with my besties.
18. Try new foods from another culture.
19. Buy my parents something cool.
20. Have a pen pal.
21. Go to a legit wine tasting at a real winery. 
22. Get another tattoo. 
23. Go to an NFL game.
24. Have a smash cake photo shoot.
25. Record some songs.
26. Go camping at a music festival.
27. Meet the Hanson brothers.
28. Ride a camel.
29. Have Hershey compete in an agility contest.
30. Go change the world.