Wednesday, December 16, 2015

One Very Good Day

Holy smokes friends, we are almost there! In just a few short days it will be Winter Break! I know that if you are like me, sometimes the stress of the season makes me not enjoy the season. As educators we are not only juggling preparing things for our own families this season, but also we juggle closing out a semester. Class parties, finals, and for those music educators out there that lovely Winter Concert program! I can tell you that during this crazy and somewhat chaotic time, all I crave is one very good day. Today was one of those days.

I'm not going to sugar coat it, if you are an educator in the state of Oklahoma you know stuff isn't that great right now. A lot of us just need one very good day. This day is what my soul needed. As much as I am known for my unicorns and rainbows outlook on life, I will be the first to admit that sometimes I am completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of what all my profession entails, the past couple of weeks I have lost sight of my unicorns and rainbows zest for teaching. Today I was reminded of why I do this, why it is important, and just how important what I do can be for others.

First of all what made this day just wonderful, a teaching idea that I came up with at 3:30 in the morning a few weeks ago. I teach at a middle school and tomorrow and Friday will be finals for our students. Instead of just giving a review sheet, which I did anyways because some kids like that kind of thing, I wanted something more hands on for my students. So I threw it back to their elementary school days with centers. By the way, whoever said centers are only for elementary school students, please direct this blog to them, or you know smack them up side the head, whatever your fancy.

I had five different stations with activities for my students to do, and they loved it. If you are a middle school teacher and you have engaged an eighth grade boy 100% you win the game of life. So here is what I did....

The Human Staff  I taped a staff on the floor, along with a either a bass clef or a treble clef, and a cup filled with pieces of paper that had the musical letter names. Students drew a letter, stood in the correct line or space, and their classmates on their team named what note they were. If the students were standing on the wrong line or space, without my prompting the others in the groups made sure that the student corrected their answer. One group even turned it into a game of music Twister. "Right foot on E, left foot is C, right hand on G, etc..." They are so smart, creative, and awesome. Man they make me look good.

Rhythmic Diction I had a set of rhythm cards, small white boards, and dry erase markers, One student clapped and counted a rhythm and the others on their team wrote down the rhythm that was performed. Each student had a chance to read and write the rhythm. Ooo look...literacy.

Fishbowl I play this game at game nights with my friends all the time, and I was really excited about trying it out in the classroom. In a fishbowl, I place slips of paper that contained all of the vocabulary and buzz words that we use in my class and content area. The first round students could use as many words to describe the term just not the actual word, the second time they act it out with no words-which for music terms can be a bit difficult, and the third time they could only use one word to describe the term. This was the class hit!

Telephone It is what you would expect, but with rhythm patterns. One student draws a rhythm card and whispers it into their classmates ear, it goes around the circle and you see if it is the same by the time it gets back to the first person. This is really not the best way to assess student knowledge because of many different factors, but my students love this game! One group timed themselves to see how quickly and accurately they could complete the task. The record for the the day was 4 seconds.

I Have, Who Has This game is a favorite in my classroom. I love it for so many reasons. Students have a set of rhythm or pitch pattern cards, one starts with I Have (whatever is on there card) Who Has (picks card of other student). This really reinforces music literacy and working together. I know of a math teacher in my building, that uses this with his sixth graders for math facts. You go Hobbs!

I even had the Yule Log and Christmas music playing in the background!!! At the end of the hour I did a short assessment over the activities that we did and my students all scored above 90%. I'm convinced that this was a better way for them to review.






The second reason why today was great...it was locker clean out day!! Look at all the stuff that I saved from the trash can!!!



But let me tell ya, as amazing as those centers and locker clean out haul was, witnessing some student success was way better. At my site, we have a program called Student of the Month. Students are nominated by their teachers, and then the site teachers vote on the students. Well this month four out of the six students are my students! What can I say, choir kids do it better. I loved that my first hour was interrupted by my principal, assistant principal, counselors, and school nurse to introduce some of the winners! Let me give you a little context on why this was pretty important to me. At the beginning of the school year at our back to school activities our superintendent encouraged us to find our "one." One student that we could pour extra love, attention, and encouragement into. A student that we see loads of potential, but maybe they haven't had the fairest chance at life. I was able to find my one pretty quickly. This young man was just looking for an outlet, he wanted a talent, and more than anything he wanted to be loved and accepted. School has never been easy for him, and it is something that he has never loved. More than anything I wanted this student by the end of the year to love school. He has worked hard, overcame a lot of hard things, he had a speaking part on our Winter Christmas concert, and started to love learning. Today he was named Student of the Month. The excitement on his face was pure joy. I was in pure tears. Some of my favorite things I heard him say, "My mom and dad will be so proud!" "I have never won anything before in my life." And here it is the ugly cry line right here..."I just love my school." Excuse me as I sit in corner and cry my eyes out. I'm so proud of all of my students, and love being able to share their successes. Today I was reminded of why I do what I do, of why I just love unicorns and rainbows. No state lawmaker and their lack of common sense can ever make me forget this feeling.

I'm so glad that I had a day like this, it was a day that I needed. Just remember friends, no matter what you are impacting the lives of children. You are making them love school and learning. You making an impact that I'm sure they aren't even aware of, you make the difference. I'm blessed to be a teacher. I know that it is a privilege, and one that I do not take lightly. So my friends as we close out these next two days, remember that you are a game changer and you are a life changer!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Music Stands Alone

Today was a big day for music education in America. When I went to check my email during my planning period I found a little gem of an email from National Association for Music Education sharing the news about the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Pending the President's signature this now makes No Child Left Behind a thing of the past. So why is this an exciting, top of the mountain moment, doing back flips down the hallway moment for music educators? Because it includes a stand alone listing for music. I have linked below the news release from NAfME over the topic.

There are so many exciting features with this passage. I love being able to educate the whole child. Part of this simply comes from my own experiences as a student. I am the beginning of the NCLB age. As I was entering middle school and high school the expectations of students and teachers in the areas of math and reading started to ramp up intensity. I'm not great at math. I once had a teacher that said I would never be good at math and I believed it. After that moment math had always been an up hill battle. I hated when I had to be pulled out of my choir class to go work on math. I love being able as an educator to offer up so many opportunities for students to be creative. Where they have a safe place to explore their voices, create high quality music, and perform. Nothing brings me more joy then when I see students that struggle in other classroom areas succeed and thrive in my class. I'm so blessed that I'm in working situation where I can educate the whole child, but I know of many of my fellow music educators do not have that same opportunity. With the passage of Every Student Succeeds Act, this ensures that all students will have access to a well-rounded education.

The language of ESSA also makes music a "well-rounded subject." So what does this mean? Every child, no matter what, has access to music. What else does this mean? Schools can use federal funds for their music programs. It absolutely breaks my heart when I hear stories of school music programs being cut, hopefully this could be a thing of the past. Many of my fellow #oklaed bloggers have said that I'm full of unicorns and rainbows, but I'm also a realist. I understand that is an up hill battle that will take some time, but this unicorns and rainbows lover hopes that it will be a smooth transition and children will have access music and art once again.

Another thing that I'm a fan of is new the flexibility accountability system. Music and Fine Arts in general don't really fit the mold of most evaluation tools. Being able to include areas of evaluation such as student and parent engagement and school climate and culture as measurable tools is pretty exciting!

This next part...this is going to take time. Protection from class pull outs. The language does not say that students cannot be pulled from music and art classes for remediation, but it only discourages it. Which means it can still happen, and will happen. I see and understand the reasoning behind doing remediation because kids need to know how to read and they need understanding in math, but creative kids in to be creative. Hopefully this new season will provide for schools to find ways to be creative in providing the remediation services that kids need as well as providing quality fine arts education!

This is an exciting day for music teachers. This is an exciting day for all teachers. I saw a tweet from one music educator stating how excited she is that she now feels valid. While this is so exciting, I never needed an act of Congress to tell me that I'm valid and that what I teach is valid. Music changed my life, in fact it is still changing my life. How do I know what I'm doing is valid? I look in the eyes of my students. I see how learning choral music is changing them. I see the joy and hear the joy in the music that we are making. While having these new things and new supports is exciting, this doesn't change what I am doing right now. Tomorrow I will still wake up in the morning, and teach kids how to sing. I will still do what is best for kids and love them like crazy! So to my fellow music educators, be happy and celebrate this day, but more importantly keep doing what you are doing. It is being noticed and it is being celebrated. Go forth and change the world music educators!

http://www.nafme.org/no-child-left-behind-nears-end-congress-passes-new-education-law-with-stand-alone-listing-for-music/

Saturday, November 28, 2015

From the Stage to the Classroom: Lessons Learned from Sugar Plums

A very big part of my growing up was centered around the dance studio. Ten of my Christmas seasons were spent preparing for my ballet company's production of The Nutcracker. This year that dance company is celebrating it's 30th anniversary of it's annual Nutcracker celebration, I have found myself being a bit reflective lately and making parallels between those childhood moments and the moments in my classroom today.

The Work Leading Up Is Better Than The Performance Itself
Rehearsals for annual ballet begin in September, then ramped up intensity in November, and then finally the week of the show rehearsals till midnight weren't uncommon. Then came performance day and your scene may have only been about three minutes. For some they might find that all of that work for three to eight minutes of performance time, not worth it, but it couldn't be far from the truth. Those long and sometimes painful rehearsals prepared me for my job today. This upcoming week my students have a concert and we started preparing for this concert in September, and some of those rehearsals were long and sometimes painful. What people don't see from artists, performers, and musicians is the weeks and hours that went into prepareing their art, many just see the finished product. Even for the young musicians that I get to work with everyday, this is something hard for them to wrap their minds around. Many times my students will point out how much work we put into performances and then explain how they can't believe that it is over. What I try to point out to my students is cherish and make the most of every rehearsal time, because when we make the most of each moment of music making in rehearsal we just make that performance better. Sure this sounds easy, but when you are working with middle school students that are all about instant gratification it can be a bit difficult. Sometimes I even have to remind myself this, that all the work will be worth it in the end. But I don't stop. I keep trying. By the end of the year and the last performance they get it.

Bring Your Best All The Time
My ballet teacher is an amazing teacher. As a look at my own teaching these days, I find that I do many of the same things she does in my classroom. My students poke fun at my phrase "do it again" but I want my students to know what it is like to do it right. Music is creative and beautiful, but there is some technical skill involved as well. Either you sing the note right or you sing it wrong, there is no in between. The same can be said of ballet, either the move is right or it is wrong. I remember being in rehearsals, going through it once, sitting down and getting notes over our rehearsal and doing it again. We were given the opportunity to do it right. I want to do that for my students every day. I want them to know what it is like to do it right. When I tell them to do it again, it is because I want them not only be successful one time, I want them to feel successful every time. Looking back on those ballet days, those moments of doing it again led to those amazing performances. Not only do I expect my students to bring their best everyday, that also means that I have to bring my best everyday. Some days are hard. Some days I feel completely inadequate to know, love, and teach these children. Some days are a crash and burn moments. But beautiful thing is each day is new and I get to another chance to bring my best.

Art No Matter What Form Is Life Alternating 
Did I turn out to be a prima ballerina? No. But it was when I studied and danced those Nutcracker performances that fell in love with music. I fell in love with art. My art. I'm so overprotective of what I do in my classroom simply because I'm protective of my art. Choral music changed my life, and it is my job to show children how beautiful and transforming it can be in their lives. Being in the Nutcracker taught me how to appreciate all art forms visual and performing. I just love it. Fine Arts gives so much meaning to the world around us. It saddens me when I hear stories about Fine Arts programs being removed from schools, because for many students the Fine Arts are all they have, the Fine Arts are why they come to school. Many students are creative souls stuck in desk chairs with cinder block walls and they just need creativity. They need art. Children need art.

I'm so blessed that I had a chance to dance in ten productions of The Nutcracker. Looking back that time was preparing me for the job that I never even imagined having. Oh and here is a picture of middle school Nutcracker production Meghan.



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Edu-Grateful

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!!! There are just so many blessings in my life to be thankful for, to name them all would take forever. I have been blessed with a family that loves me, friends that are small family within itself, and a profession that I absolutely adore. 

#oklaed
You are the best. You have challenged me. You have encouraged me. You have made me better. I can't even name you by name for fear that I will forget someone, you are all just so dear to me. To those that have retweeted or favorited something crazy that I shared and to those of you that have read this blog and have supported me in this writing journey I thank you. Thank you for sharing with me as well, I have learned more from you than any old professional development could do for me. 

Sequoyah Middle School
There are no words to describe my love and thanks for you. In this building I have felt the love of a supportive admin that not only care about my teaching but care about what is happening in my life outside of the building. To the "squad"of teachers that are some of the best people and friends in my life, you are the best. Thanks for listening to me vent, celebrate my successes, and encourage and support music in our school. Plus we are just really cool, people want to be us. 

Music
It has given my life meaning. I can't believe that each day I get to wake up and do this. I get to teach kids how to sing. How amazing. I have seen some kids that absolutely struggle in all areas of school and shine in my class, simply because they love music. I love every moment of watching them grow and fall in love with the art form that so richly enhanced my life. I love their thirst for knowledge in music, I love when their faces light when when they get it. They are the greatest. Love. Love. Love. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Multiplication Effect

Sometimes everything comes together and you realize just how unbelievibly powerful what you do is, and why it is needed.

My university that I graduated from lost a big part of it over a year ago. I have blogged about Dr. Stauffer Todd before and here is my tribute post to her.

Yesterday afternoon there was a fundraiser held in her memory to raise funds to establish an endowned scholarship in her name. She hated being the center of attention, but former students, current students, Divison of Music professors donated art, sang, and performed all for her. She would have loved the communtiy of performance.

In the final moments, after singing with my college choir, and crying my eyes out while I sang, because music is just beautiful. My former dean said this, "teaching is a multiplication effect." As soon as I heard the words, my eyes filled with tears and the ugly cry could not be contained.

Driving home I begin to process that statement. Teaching is a multiplication effect. How many lives do I as one person reach? Rather it be directly or indirectly? How do I make sure that I reach all of my students? What happens if I don't reach them all? How do I keep all of the problems that face educators today from hindering my multiplication effect?

Now I'm bad at the math stuff and my friend and fellow edu-blogger @TeachFromHere  might call me out on it, so I'm doing my own version of it, so he can deal. I reach and impact students, and in turn they reach and impact those around them. That one spark of influence grows and just keeps growing. We reach and influence our students and they in turn reach and influence their own studnets, co-workers, neighbors and community. Reaching just one kid could hold the potential to reach thousands.

Oh how I love this profession. I cannot even begin to put into words how much I love what I do, but you know what sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it is hard. Sometimes it is the most challenging thing in the world. In a world full of those fun little three letter acronyms, you know the ones: HST, TLE, VAM, and the like, I have the best news ever for you, none of those things can hinder your mulitplication effect. Yes these are things that are important, that are needed(okay maybe not all are needed...ahem HST), but loving and knowing your students, reaching them, influencing them, and impacting their lives will reap a far better and greater reward. So my fellow educator that is stressing out over testing, to my fellow choral educator that is stressing out over honor choir auditions, to administrators that are stressing out over an A-F report card, guess what? It will all be okay. Those do not define you as an educator and those things do not define your students. The lives you impact today, will go on to impact other lives, and they will teach the lessons that you taught them to others. Muliplying your circle of influence.

We do not educate data points and stastics on a piece of paper. We educate kids, and these kids have emotions and souls. These kids are full of joy and life, and some of these kids are full of hurt and pain. They need to know that they are more than data points.

Keep going. Keep reaching. Keep doing the hard things. Don't stop. Love kids. Know them. Reach out to them, but remember it's okay if you don't reach and impact them all. Maybe you just weren't the person that they needed at the time. See the good in every kid, and I know sometimes you have to look really hard. Mulitply your circle of influence. Don't worry about the other stuff, just love your job and love your students. You just might be the only one that truly does.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Edu-Grateful: Part Two

For me, the path to becoming an educator was clear. I remember my first day of school and then coming home and playing school. I did this every day of my childhood. I wanted to be a teacher. When I was in kindergarten I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, when I was in first grade it was a first grade teacher, I'm not going to type this all out because that would be forever, you see where I'm going with this...one day everything change.

Her name is Wendy Dooly. She was my elementary music teacher at Ballman Elementary in Fort Smith, Arkansas. One day when I was in fifth grade she told me to try out for the school's honor choir. I had no idea at the time that one conversation would completely change my life, sometimes I even wonder if Ms. Dooly knew that conversation would completely change my life. I think that she just saw and heard a girl that very loudly(yes I am a loud mouth, shocking) loved singing. I was in fifth grade I was more concerned with the Spice Girls and what was happening on 7th Heaven (let's pause for a moment and remember the greatest that was 7th Heaven). I always enjoyed music class, it was always fun for me, but when I started to sing in a choir things changed.

Singing in a choir started to change my spirit. I found joy in it. At the time I was really struggling in school, not in everything but Math started to become a problem for me. I felt like I was a complete idiot because I couldn't do all the Math things that my friends could do. Our choir practices happened after my Math class. So I would always go to rehearsals feeling pretty dumb, but when I left rehearsals I felt like the smartest kid on the planet. In those moments, I felt okay to be the creative little loud mouth that so many have grown to love.

It wasn't in that choir that I decided that I wanted to be a choir teacher, but it was because of being in that choir I choose to take choir in junior high and then in high school, which lead to me discovering my calling and my passion for choral education.

So Ms. Dooly, thank you for making me join choir. Thank you for seeing and hearing something in me. You didn't just influence my life, but because of that influence it lives on in how I influence my students. I feel bad that after elementary school I lost contact with you, but I'm so thankful for you.

Oh by the way.....elementary music teachers, thank you!!!!!! You make my job possible. You lay the foundations and you get kids excited about music. You encourage kids to take my class, and you help them fall in love with music. I don't say it enough but thank you for what you do! Because it was an elementary music teacher that changed my life. You are changing lives, every single day!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Edu-grateful: Part One

I love November. It is my favorite. I love fall. I love Daylight Savings Time. I love Thanksgiving because I can eat all the mashed potatoes with no judgement. Thanksgiving and gratitude is something that we should carrying with us all year long but occasionally we seem to forget all about it and only remember it in November. I am thankful for so many things: my faith in Christ, my church, family, friends, my cat, Netflix, coffee, Diet Coke, Oreo blast ice cream, and my job. I love my job. In case you can't tell. I really really really love my job. My path to becoming the teacher that I am today has been marked by countless educators that have poured into me and invested so much time into my teaching. To write a blog series dedicated to each one would take 365 days. So trying to narrow it down to only four to each feature each week, talk about difficult.

This week is dedicated to Dr. Casey Gerber. Dr. Gerber was my undergraduate music education professor and he still is a resource and mentor. Just yesterday he was conducting some of my students as a part of our district honor choir. Not only did Dr. G teach me how to teach, how to plan effective lessons, how to find the best resources and music for children, but he taught me how to take pride in what I do. His passion and joy for teaching is so clear in everything that he does. It is clear to me that I would not be the teacher that I am today, if I did not have Dr. Gerber mentoring me and training me. The lessons, activity, games, and warm ups that I learned in his methods are still some of my most favorite things ever. And they are my students favorites! He is still a go to resource when I have a question about lessons or curriculum. He told me to start my Kodaly levels, so I did and I'm so thankful for that and what it is doing for my teaching. Plus he is a folk song singing, circle dancing, plays bass in a rock band, cool guy. It's awesome. He's awesome.

Dr. Gerber,

Thank you for encouraging me and making a teacher. Thank you for believing in me. Thanks for just being cool. Thanks for telling me to not suck. I try everyday.







Sunday, October 25, 2015

Why Is It Important To You? Part One

In April I started writing. Writing is something that doesn't come naturally for me. Singing you a song-yes. Doing a funny dance to make you laugh-yes. Running into glass doors-yes. All of those things come naturally for me. Writing, not so much. It has streached me and caused me to be open and vulnerable. Some of the things that I have written about have been silly and some have been serious. However all along this journey I have learned more about myself that I could have ever thought possible.

Back in June I participated in my first #oklaed Twitter chat. That first chat was an incredibly overwhelming expereince. I had no idea what I was getting into. Okay, fine I still have no idea what I'm getting into each week. I had no idea that the educators that I would connect with challenge me both personally and professionally. I had no idea about the amount of ways that it has encourged and grown my teaching.

So why are both of these things important to me? Why do I do them? Why do I put my heart on the line and bare my soul? Why do I spend an hour on Sunday nights glued to Twitter? My answer is simple.

Because it is all about my students. Blogging has helped me get my students' stories out there. Blogging has given me a platform to write about things that happen in my classroom and to write about things that effect my classroom. It has given me an outlet to express everything in my hot mess mind, and most of it is unicorns and rainbows. Twitter and more speifically the #oklaed Twitter chat has helped me forge contact with other educators. Educators that lift me up. Educators that challenge me. Educators that make me laugh. Educators that inspire me. Educators that allow me to be my unicorn and rainbows self. The educators that I have had the oppertunity to connect with are the best of the best. They are amazeballs. They have encourged me to become a better teacher, and since that is happening it is all about my students.

So why is this post, just part one? Well #oklaed the next part is all about you! Tweet me, email me, or send my letters via carrier pigions. What is your why? Why Is It Important To You? Why do you blog, participate in Twitter chat, go to EdCamps, etc? I will make a list and you will see it soon!

Thank you for being the best!


Twitter- @meghanloyd

Email-megloyd916@gmail.com


Monday, October 19, 2015

The Ever Changing Standards Fight

Are you an educator or have an interest in education in Oklahoma? Are you on Twitter? Are you participating in the #oklaed Twitter chat? Here are the answers to the questions that I wish you answered: Yes, Yes, and Yes! Since participating in the #oklaed Twitter chat on Sunday nights at 8 pm CST, I have grown a Professional Learning Network of educators that are only seeking to do what is best for kids but to connect with other educators. Please join us, it is totally worth your time. This post inspiration comes straight from last night's Twitter chat over the newly minted Oklahome ELA and Math Standards.

Standards

Webster's likes to define a standard as "an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations" Another definition is "a level of quality or attainment." In education we talk about and hear about them all the time. ALL THE TIME. FOR THE LOVE THEY HAVE TAKEN OVER OUR LIVES. Broken record. If you are an educator in Oklahoma you know the fight. You know the battle. PASS Skills, Common Core, OAS...the list goes on and on. Teach these standards. These are the ones that you will need to use. Oh wait....never mind, use these. Yeah, those right there, teach those. Nope, sorry don't teach those teach these. HOLY COW. Please don't get me wrong, we need standards. Standards hold us accountable. Standards help us understand what students need to know and how we need to get them there. It is a blueprint. So as a music educator my standards are pretty murky. While there are national standards for Music Education, I have found in my own little world and in my own little classroom I need three. We call CPR in my classroom. 

CREATE music of high quality.
PERFORM music with excellence.
REFLECT on the work I am doing. 

Now yes I teach all of the musical terms and ideas that they need to know but these three things are the most important things that I want my students to know and understand. I want them to create, perform, and reflect. I want them to create amazing, beautiful, and exciting music. I want them to perform that music with excellence. I want them to reflect on how they are working and take ownership for the work and music they are creating. So simple but yet so powerful. 

Have we made things too complicated? I understand that my subject area is very different. I understand that what I do in my classroom doesn't translate over into others. But all I am asking is there a happy medium? A place were we can challenge students, prepare them for the future, and not completely overwhelm the teachers? I think we can, how do we get there? 

Just Love Them

I say this a lot, but this is a blog were the underlying message is about love and loving the world around us, but love your students. Love them. Know them. Try to understand them. Let them know that you love them. That you know them. That you try to understand them. How do we teach in a world obsessed with ever changing standards? We love. We do what is best for them on a daily basis. We seek to make ourselves better. We seek to become better teachers. We seek to have fun in our jobs. We see the best in every kid, even the ones that you got to search real hard to find. We just teach. We do what we love. We share it with others. We understand that standards are important, but developing young men and women of character is equally if even more important. We do what is best for kids every single day. Things that we are already doing! Just remember you have the chance to impact so many lives. To change the life of a child. Isn't that the best and most beautiful thing in the world? 

Educators you inspire me. Thank you for all that you do. For the love, you people are the best.  


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Comfort Zones

Comfort zones. I have the biggest ones. The biggest leaps of faith I have ever taken involved me stepping out of my comfort zone. Before I get to far into this I just to be clear that in certain situations having a comfort zone and staying in it is a measure of protection. Sometimes it is okay to stay in your zone. Looking back over the past few years I'm pretty sure I could have saved myself some heart break and stress if I just stayed in my zone. However for the most when I step out of my comfort zone, explore new things, meet new people, and encounter new journeys my life is better for it. Some of them meet seem weird, but they are my comfort zones and I'm a weird person so it is okay.

Leaving Arkansas

Leaving Arkansas and leaving my family to go to college in Oklahoma and then to stay in Oklahoma when starting my post graduate career was a huge step out of my comfort zone. I knew no one when left and went to OBU. I knew maybe two or three people when I moved to Broken Arrow to start my teaching career. This comfort zone. This leap of faith. It has been the biggest blessing of my life. Don't get me wrong, I miss my family, but starting out on my own as been an incredibly rewarding experience. 

Joining An Adult Kickball League

I am not athletic. I hate sweating. I hate exercise. But this has been fun. I have made new friends. And learned that I'm really not *that bad* at playing kickball. 

Kodaly Certification

I thought Kodaly was just for elementary music teachers. I had no idea that when I left the comfort zone of "I think I know my job and what I'm doing, I don't need this" how much I didn't know my job and what I was doing, and oh boy did I need this. My Kodaly training has changed everything. It was scary and hard. It involved me having to do things that I really don't enjoy, and things that don't naturally come easy for me. However it has made me a better musician and a better teacher therefore making me a better teacher of musicians. 

All of this has me thinking, what are we as educators doing to move our students out of their comfort zones? How we showing our students to take calculated and well thought out risks? Is it enough? Can we be doing more? In this day of high stakes testing are we just teaching kids the safe way to learn? Each week when I'm planning out my lessons I try to think of one way to move my students out of their comfort zones. In a music performance class, sometimes that concert we have coming up or that honor choir audition is what takes a student out of their comfort zone. For many kids just to stand on stage in a performance is a really nervous experience and if they aren't encouraged and pushed they may never take that step. I have seen so many of my students that have been freaking out before we go on stage, get on that stage and perform their little hearts out, and at the end are begging for more performance time! For the Love it makes me ugly cry every single time. I have one student and he as an amazing voice, last year he really wanted to audition for a solo, but was really worried. He could perform it fine in class everyday, but he was so worried and scared about performing it on stage for his family and peers. I just told him that I was right behind and him and proud of him no matter what. He stepped up the mic and sang his heart out. Girls cheered him on and were screaming out his name, he was like Bono. For a seventh grade boy to have a group of girls chant your name might be the biggest confidence boost ever. He stepped out of his comfort zone. Now this boy asked for a solo all the time and he sings everywhere that he goes.

We should all be doing something to get students out of their comfort zones. I think that easiest way to start to just know your students and love them. Let them know that you know them and that you love them. Once that they see that you know them and you love them, they can trust you. They can trust you with their comfort zones, and they can do more that you and they ever imagined. Just think of all of the cool and amazeball things that we can do in our classrooms when we move our students out of their comfort zones and give them more responsibility for their own learning. I can picture it in my head and I'm just blown away by it! 

So I ask you these questions. What are your comfort zones? What is holding you back from chasing your dream? If you are an educator what are you doing to encourage your students to seek out more than their comfort zones? This week I'm going to challenge my students to identify their comfort zones and I'm going to share mine with them, and together we are going to step out of them. Together we are going to do some cool and awesome stuff. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Enough is Enough

It has taken me about two days to compose this post. It has brought out about twenty different emotions in me, from happy to angry to sad to down right ugly cry.

Welcome to being a secondary vocal music educator in Oklahoma where all of your district choir, all state choir, Circle the State with Song Children's festival, and children's all state chorus entries have to be turned in within the same time frame to four different people. Let's don't forget about the concert that is happening in three weeks, the auditions for district honor choir and for all state are looming, the children's all state CDs that need to be made, the purchase orders that need to be opened, the t-shirts that need to be ordered, the fundraiser that needs to be mailed off, and oh let's not forget about that whole teaching thing that needs to happen. During my first year of teaching I had a major meltdown around this time. All of the stress of the paperwork(which there should be an undergraduate class in paperwork) and it being my first year teaching, I lost it. Sitting in my office after school, ugly crying. I promised myself after that moment each year would be different. But....it never fails, the end of September meltdown. It came yesterday, along with all of the feelings with it. Each year, each ugly crying overwhelmed fit comes with the biggest scariest thought I have...I have failed and I'm not enough.

Failure is my biggest fear. They idea of failure and that it could happen has always motiviated me, but that own fear of failure has at many times caused way more stress than needed in my life. I have even written about my fear of failure

The What If Game

Surely I can't be the only educator that has this little meltdown. Surely I'm not the only one who thinks that my enough is not enough. At the end of the day yesterday, I sat in my office in my classroom cried for a good fifteen minutes and then went home and cried for another thirty minutes. As I sat there on my couch sobbing into my mint chocolate chip ice cream, my thoughts were consumed with thoughts of failure and jumping to conclusions. I jump to conclusions like it is a high dive into a pool full of jello. What if that purchase order doesn't get opened? What if that entry didn't go through? What if I don't have a student make district honor choir? What if my all state CDs have one minor flaw and they get disqualified? What if? What if? What if?

Let's just take a look at all the things that mentioned. All of these things are important and all of the things are just a part of my job. Do any of those things have anything to do with teaching choral music? Okay maybe the honor choir is about teaching choral music. Because here is the thing, those things...they don't show that my enough is enough. So yesterday when I was sobbing into my mint chocolate chip ice cream was I thinking about how I got 29 middle school boys to cut off at the same time and not sing through a rest? That was no easy feat. Was I thinking about how the same group of 7th grade girls that last year as sixth graders that struggled with two part harmony successfully sang in the three part harmony? Was I thinking about how adorably polite and loving my sixth grade girls class is every single day? Was I thinking about how my Fine Arts class rocked their STOMP Projects? The things that I am judging my abilities and my enough as a teacher are in fact aspects of my job that truly are not related to my teaching, but are just the by product of being a secondary Vocal Music teacher. Then it hit me, my enough is more enough.

My Enough is Enough, Your Enough is Enough.

While yes, the paperwork side of my job is important, at the end of the day being the best educator, musician, leader, and person is what my students need and more importantly what they deserve. To put it simply, it was never about me anyways. At the end of the day it is always about the hundred and forty lives that I get to educate, enrich, and more importanlty love every day. My enough is more than enough for them.

So for the rest of this school year, when I'm tempted to have that little meltdown. When I'm tempted to believe that I'm not enough. When I'm tempted believe that I am not a good teacher. I need to remember my enough is enough and no matter what my kids making beautiful music and becoming good people is all that matter. So my friends whether you are a teacher, a student, or involved in another career just remember your enough is always enough.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Leadership and What Do They Do When I'm Not There

First of all I'm just so overwhelmed by the love and support for my little blogging project, to my #oklaed PLN thank you! Thank you for sharing in this vision and loving and supporting each other so well!

As much as we would never want to miss school, because let's be real preparing for the sub is more work than if we were actually at school that day. Most of the time that I have to be gone is for school activities but there are those times when I have the strep throat. I won't lie to you, there have been moments when my sub plans were just fluff and didn't really have any lasting impact for my students. So last year I made some changes to my sub plans and it is has really been a great thing. The chances of me ever having a certified music teacher in my classroom is a rare thing, and being willing to walk into a room full of middle schoolers is pretty daunting. Walking into a Vocal Music classroom full of middle schoolers is just down right crazy. Preparing easy to follow plans and preparing your students for that sub is so important. So whenever I have a sub, for those planned and unplanned times, I have the same lesson plan. So here is a nice little break down:

Have a binder that a sub can easily find. In that binder you need to have up to date rosters, seating charts, schedule for the day, what do in an emergency, important phone numbers (include a phone a friend/buddy teacher in case your children lose their minds), and the lesson plan. You also will need a small plastic tub that will hold all of your materials.

My lesson plan is pretty simple, easy to follow, and keeps my students singing and making music! I also have a list of pre-appointed student leaders to lead all of the activities in the different categories. At the end of this post there is a link to my favorite Teachers Pay Teachers Store for Lindsey Jarvis. If you are a music educator and more importantly a Kodaly inspired music educator check out her stuff. It will change your life. I love and use almost all of her visual aids!


  • I leave a list of our favorite brain warm ups and movement games, I have about five on that list and the class will vote on two of them to do. 
  • After our brain warm ups and movement games, there is a list of ten of our favorite singing games. Just like with the activity before the class votes on five of them to do. 
  • Following the singing games, I have a list of six cannons and partner songs, the class votes for three of them to work on. 
  • After we work on cannons and partner songs, there is a small sight reading element. Right now my students are just working major scales and intervals. As the year progresses I will leave more difficult sight reading examples from our sight reading books and from some OSSAA Sight Reading contest released items. 
  • Once all of those things have been completed, my students divide themselves into small groups from random draw. Once they are in their groups, they vote for a group leader and the group leader will go to the sub tub and get out the game assigned to their group. In that tub I have tons of rhythmic reading games, melodic pattern games, and some Solfege help games. Students will play those games twice. 
  • If there is time, they can go back to the list of singing games and chose more games to play.

I love using this plan for many reasons. One it keeps my kiddos singing. Two it keeps my kiddos in a semi-normal routine. Finally, it passes on the responsibility to my students. More than anything it develops student leaders. 

Today, I had to use my sub plan, and I was at school! Today my catalog fundraiser was due and I had a massive amount of money that I needed to count and make sure I had the ducks in the row. So while I was sitting at a table in classroom counting money(which I hate), my student leaders taught class! It was great being able to test out this plan with my student leaders while I was there and not having them do this the first time with a sub. Plus it just really reinforced the proper behavior for class with me being there. I could redirect if needed. I told my students that when I have to be gone this is what they would do, and they loved it. If there was an area that they had some struggles with I could step in and help. But you know what I didn't have to step in. 

So here is my crazy hot mess confession, at one point I had tears in my eyes. To see and hear my students teach and lead their peers was just heart warming. What I loved was the most was that  I overheard them using so many of the phrases that I use all the time, "Check your posture" "Keep your vowels north and south and not east and west" "5 4 3 2 1" It was like watching 15 "little Meghans." Which we should be worried about if there really was 15 mini-Meghans. 

Developing student leaders is one of my favorite parts of my job, and one of the reasons why I wanted to co-sponsor National Junior Honor Society (that is a whole other story). Watching my students grow into leaders just gets me so excited. I see so much potential in them, and today I saw a future Vocal Music teacher in the making. Watching this young lady lead her class, was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, she is a natural. Her classmates were struggling and I thought that I was going to have to step in and help her out, However, she changed it. She broke it down and explained it to her classmates and they got it. By the way, this young lady is a sixth grader. She is eleven. Holy Moly Spicy Guacamole. 

So teachers, what do you do when a sub is in your room? What do you do prepare student leaders? I'm so curious and I want to know, you know so I can steal...errrr ummm. borrow your ideas. 



Monday, September 7, 2015

Literacy and the Electives Teacher

So this might be a bit of a hot mess post, but let's be real my hot messness is just a part of who I am. When I started this blog it was just a way for me to tell my story. To tell the crazy things that just seem to happen to me and to tell them in the typical awkward Meghan fashion. While that is still true, this blog has because a great avenue for me to share my thoughts on teaching, which hello...it is my passion, my heart, and my slight obsession. What I love about education blogging is that it is connecting me with so many other educators. Below are links to some of my blogger/friends(even though I have never actually met them I'm sure we are besties for the resties). Check them out!!! There are so many more but these are a great place to start!

Blue Cereal Education
View From The Edge
Teaching From Here

Okay so let's get to the point here...during last night's #oklaed Twitter chat, which by the way if you are an Oklahoma educator and you are not on Twitter or if you are and you are not participating in our Sunday Twitter chat may I ask why? Okay now I'm really getting to the point...our chat was over literacy. I love literacy it is great, amazing, fabulous, wonderful...I can get on board with literacy. One of the questions was "How can classes like electives support reading and writing?" When I saw that this question was going to be asked, I would say that my excitement was much like that moment when I pull combination pizza rolls out of the oven. Which is pretty darn excited! I'm an incredibly passionate person about what I do and what I teach, so I was looking forward to sharing my thoughts. For the love I was super pumped.

First-electives teachers are real teachers. I can't even begin to describe how hurtful and harmful I find it when other educators say I'm not a real teacher, but I'm a glorified babysitter. I am a real educator. What I teach might not look like what you teach, but let me tell ya, what I teach is real. What I do on a daily basis is real. The kids that struggles in your Math or ELA class, is a rock star in mine. I teach choir, because when I was a middle school kid, I needed it. I have wanted to teach middle school choir since I was in middle school choir. Electives teachers are real teachers we work hard to ensure quality educational experiences for our students. Students need music, art, drama, computers, foreign languages, and PE not because they "raise test scores" but just because.

Second-we teach literacy. There are so many forms of literacy out there. Musical literacy, visual literacy, digital literacy, and so on and so on. I love what my man Zolton Kodaly says about music literacy. "We should read music the same way the an educated adult would read a book: in silence but imagining the sound." I tell my students all the time that in my class we read with our ears and listen with our eyes. The first time I tell them this, they look at me like I'm a crazy loon, well actually they look at me like that all the time. I'm not just building singers, I'm building musicians. My end goal is for my students to look at what is is musically written on the page and be able to hear the music in their heads. Is it easy...hahahahahahahahahahahahaha no. It takes a lot of work on my part and it takes a lot of time on my students part. But when they get it, it is so awesome! So yes I teach literacy.

Third-just let us teach and do our thing. Like I said, we are quality teachers doing quality work. We have projects and lessons that educate the whole child. To ask us to teach how to read non-fiction articles and essays is just wrong. Because to ask you to come and teach choir with no training would be crazy. We will be more than happy to support you and more than happy to encourage our students in your classes. I encourage my students to read and I have them journal at the end of our content units and they love it. Plus I'm a reader myself, I love reading and I love talking books with my little darlings.  Like I said before, we are teaching literacy.

My final thought is this: Let's stop teacher shaming each other and respect what we are doing.  Let's support, build up, and encourage each other. So we can ultimately reach our goal to reach students and to make them better readers, better math students, better historians, better scientists, and more importantly better people.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

KST

One year. 52 weeks. 365 days. These numbers reflect the time that has passed since Dr. Kristen Stauffer Todd left this earth to her real "home." In the past 365 days I have watched an entire community, my tribe, my people that I have done life with through the thick and thin mourn her loss. I have been lucky to have had a legacy of educators pour into my education, but none is more prolific than the life of this amazing woman.

When I first came to Oklahoma Baptist University as a Freshman, I thought I knew it all. I was quick to find out that was not the case. I need someone to set me straight, someone that would offer me guidance, that someone was Dr. Todd. I find it funny that while I enjoyed a good cup of coffee just in the mornings, her influence over me quickly reached to coffee anytime of the day! I remember sitting in her class and remembering just how engaging her lessons where, how we were all a captive class. And for college students, more importantly college music majors captivity a group of the biggest walking talking ADHD advertisment was no easy feat! She was brilliant. And the beauty about her and about her teaching was that it simply was not about her, it was about the students that she was teaching. Dr. Todd taught us more than just Music and Art History. She taught us how to be better people. She knew that her successes with us would lead to successes in our own classrooms, our own churches, graduate classes, ensembles, opera companies, and so much more. She saw beyond the group of individuals sitting in front of her. She believed that we were all brilliant. She believed that I was brilliant. She told me every chance she could that I was brilliant. And there were days that just hearing those precious words made all the difference. When I was stressed or to a point that she knew that I was going to break, she would invite me for coffee, we would talk and then she would tell I was made for this and that I was brilliant.

The last time she and I had coffee was just a few days graduation. I was watching so many of my classmates talk about the jobs that they had just found out about or the grad schools they were going to, and I didn't have a clue. I had no job. I had no plan. I was freaked out. Dr.Todd told me something pretty amazing  "There is a group of students out there that need you more than you need them." This is why she was brilliant. Because she knew that there was a group of students out there that needed her more than she needed them. Brilliant.

KST, I hope that I have made you proud. I hope that you laugh when I ask a room full of middle school kids "questions, concerns, or traumas," I hope that my students get to experience a small of part of you through my teaching. I promise that I will make sure that they all know that they are brilliant. One year later, it still doesn't seem real or fair that you aren't here. But oh how I look forward to that coffee one glorious day. Thank you doesn't seem big enough.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Every Single One of Us...

One week. We have been in school for one week and let me tell you that I am exhausted. But blessed, seriously blessed.

This school year I took on a little project for the bulletin board outside of my room. I saw this wonderful idea on Pinterest, and I stole it. Let's be real educators, we see something brilliant and we steal it! Here is the finished project!!
I just love this phrase. "Every one of us a single note but together we create a masterpiece." Each of those note heads placed on that staff are students, a few teachers, and one awesome Assistant Principal's thumb prints. Their individual mark on this world. Each one of those thumb prints represents one living and breathing human life. Each one of those "single notes" has hopes, dreams, plans, and ideals. But also each one of those "single notes" has fears, doubts, hurts, and pains many of which are sometimes just to hard to bear. I stand outside of my room everyday and I look at this bulletin board and sometimes it takes everything I have not to tear up. When it comes to teaching kids music, I tend to get a little emotional, sorry not sorry. The beauty of this board is that what makes it cool is all the notes together. Each day I take single individual "notes" and I help them to learn how to work together to create something wonderful to create a masterpiece. It is the most beautiful sound in the world to me when I hear middle school hormone filled kids work together and create amazing choral music. There is nothing better.

Today as I was standing outside of room one phrase stuck out to me and took on a whole new meaning, "Every Single One of Us." Educators, it takes every single one of us. It takes us working as a team, as a community, as a profession to reach children. To take them new places they have never been, to teach them to explore the world they live in, to show them right from wrong, to teach how to being involved citizens of the world. We can't choose the lives our students live. We can't choose their parents, their circumstances, their homes, their heartbreaks, and their brokenness. But we can do, is the biggest action of all, we can choose to love them. All of them. Their hurts, their broken pieces, their hang ups, and all. Is it easy? Haha, no! I have some students, in fact some class hours that are harder to love than others.It involves a lot of grace on my part. I know that their actions are rooted in something else, but it isn't me. Their hurts, their broken pieces, their hang ups, and all, they bring that into my classroom and they are just craving more. More love, more support, more attention and more joy. In order for me to meet their needs I have to do my best and be my best. I have to see the masterpiece in them, even when they are creating straight jackets out of their hoodies and attaching themselves to their chairs. For many of my students I just might be the only person who sees the masterpiece that they can become.

Educators we are creating masterpieces every day. Are some days harder, yes, but they are always worth it. So my challenge to myself is to be reminded everyday that it takes every single one of us, to create masterpieces. I am not in this alone. We are all working together to change the world. It is a daunting task, but we are professional educators armed with love and compassion, we create and make the most beautiful masterpieces out there! So my friends, this school year, let's choose joy and let's choose to make fabulous masterpieces.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Freshman Flashback

Tomorrow is OBU's move in day. It is so hard to believe that just eight years ago I was moving into to good old WMU and by old I mean super old, and starting my journey at OBU. Let's take a moment and just all have a collective scream that it happened eight years ago and not yesterday. Those four years were the craziest, busiest, and one of the greatest times in my life. As much as I loved my time at OBU I wouldn't trade in this journey and this chapter in my life for anything. But there are just a few things that I wished I knew back then.

Dear Freshman Meghan,

Welcome to college! It will be great and scary and awesome and fun and stressful all at the same time. Just a few little things you should know:

1. Being a music major. Abbandon any of the ideas that you have built up in your head about being a music major. It won't be like hours of high school choir. Let's just say you will spend hours in the libary, hours in the practice room, hours looking over symphonies and determining chords and form, writing fake lesson plans for your methods class. You will streached and you will be become better. You are blessed to be studying with some of the best professors in the world. Don't take that for granted. Don't forget their lessons. Spend extra time with Dr. Todd and drink lots of coffee with her.

2. Coffee You will no longer hate it. I promise. I really really really really really really really promise.

3. Friendships You are about to meet some of the greatest people in the world. Some of them will only be in your life for a season. They will bless your life in that time and even eight years later they will be there for you when you need but they won't be apart of your everyday life. However there are some friends that will stay with you way past graduation. You will all laugh together, cry together, travel together, teach kids together, and have fun group text conversions. These ladies will be there for you no matter what, no matter the distance, and no matter the time since you last saw each other.

4. The ARA. You can eat cereal and ice cream with every meal. It is awsome. The rest of the ARA...not so much.(Okay you still eat cereal and ice cream for dinner, but it is okay you are an adult so you can do that).

5. Maybe Teaching High School Choir Isn't What You Want You will be surprised by what age group God lays on your heart to teach. Shocked. And you will love it. Totes love it.

6. The Walk. Treasure those precious moments. Remember every step.

7. Nickname. You will start answering to the nickname MegLo. It may seem silly. But it will become a part of you. Because the person that gave you that nickname said it was because it made your name more fun and reflect that joy that you have for life.

8. Ring By Spirng I know that you are thinking "hey it's OBU, I'm going to meet the love of my life, get engaged, and get married three weeks after your graduation." Hate to spoil it for you, but it won't happen. And it is okay. In fact eight years later it still hasn't happened. And it is still okay. You know why it is okay, you can take up the entire bed, watch whatever you want to watch on Netflix, and you don't have to share your cereal (that is a big one for you). You will struggle with it. You will have days when it seems like that desire of your heart won't happen. But this journey, this gift of being single is one of the best gifts ever. Embrace your place, embrace this time. You won't regret it.

For the Love,
The 26 year old you about to start your fifth year of teaching.
P.S. You are still awkward. You still trip over stuff and run into glass doors.

Like I said before, I wouldn't trade in this season of my life for the world, but I do have moments when I wish I could go back to those days of Bison Hill and maybe do things a little differently. Spend more time with friends, have lots of fun, and okay maybe practice a little bit more.

God Bless OBU.
Because putting black eyeliner on your cheecks and jumping off benches in front of the steps of your dorm, is totes a Freshman thing. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Dear Middle Schooler,

It is so hard to believe that school is just around the corner! I love summer and I love being able to relax and have some time to read books, go to the pool, go to the beach, and binge watch One Tree Hill on Netflix. But as much as a I love those days, I love teaching middle school kids how to sing even more!

So here are some thoughts that I just feel led to share, these are all things that I wish middle school kids knew and really understood before school starts. Oh and some of these things are pretty good for adults to remember too!

1. Lockers. This one is more new sixth grade friends that will be gracing our hallways. Having a locker is a huge rite of passage for a student and it can be exciting and scary at the same time. Just remember that it is more than okay that you can't open your locker the first time. In fact it is more than okay that you can't open your locker on the second, third, fourth, fifth and so on and so on try. Don't give up! You will get the hang of it! Just remember that on the first day of school there will be lots of teachers and your principal and assistant principals that will be more than happy to help you open your locker, that is what we are here for, to help you! However, the more you practice and the more you try it on your own, you will get it! This goes out to all middle school students. Don't let your locker turn into the bottomless pit. Lockers can get super messy real fast! Just remember to clean it out once and awhile. Oh...don't leave food in your locker. Gross.

2. Join Clubs. Be apart of different organizations and meet new people. Do you like to sing, join choir (cough cough hint hint), do you like to play an instrument, join band or orchestra, do you like to draw, think about Art Club, do you like writing, think about joining a poetry club, creative writing or newspaper club, do you like to lead and serve other peers, think about joining student council, do you love sports and playing them, try out for a sports team. There are tons of places for you to find a place to thrive at what you love to do. Plus when you are a part of clubs and organizations you will find other students that like and enjoy the same things you do and you can start building friendships with them. If there are dances and game nights go to them and have fun! If you have friends in choir, band, orchrestra, or they play on a sports team go to their concerts and games and support them. Have school spirit!

3. Listen to your teachers and do your homework. Put your phone away, social media and everything else will be there at the end of the day. No further explanation needed.

4. Problems with your friends. They will happen and how you handle them will show your true character. When you actually have a problem with friend, don't text them, don't post about them on social media, and don't start talking about them to other friends. Actually talk to them and if you feel that you can't talk to that person without getting upset, then go and see your teachers and counselors and let them help you. If you feel that you are hanging out with people that are wrong for you, that do things that you know that are wrong, it is okay to walk away. If they don't do everything to still have you in their lives then they weren't truely your friends.

5. Have fun! Middle School can be scary but it can also be one place that you can have a lot of fun. You are in the transition years from being a kid to teenager. Have fun, don't take yourself to seriously, laugh, be open to new things, and seek out those that can help you when it is overwhelming.

To all of my teacher friends, I hope you have an amazeballs year this year! Do cool stuff and please tell me about I want to know!! I'm looking for feature bloggers and I would love for you to guest blog about what you are doing in your classroom.

To my students for the 2015-2016 school year, I'm so looking forward to this amazing school year. We are going to have a blast!  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

For Rent-Part Two

A few weeks ago I blogged about my awful search for a new apartment. Holy smokes. If you did not get to read that post here it is below!

For Rent Part One

Yes I would still much rather poke myself in the eyeballs with flaming hot chopsticks than look for an apartment.The past fews days have been full of tears and questions. However through these tears and questions, I found trust and favor. I learned one very tough and very hard lesson. As much as I disliked going through the process of finding a new apartment, the very important truths that I learned is what I will take away from this search and hold close to my heart for the rest of my life.

I Had An Attitude Problem. 

Let me start off by saying that at one point in time I loved living in my current apartment, but as time moved forward and circumstances changed my attitude changed. Sensing that I needed a change anyway I begin that process of searching for a new apartment, but things got hard. I hit some brick walls. A lot of brick walls actually. Budget constrictions, wait lists a mile long, and nothing seemed to be coming together. I became angry and hateful. I was frustrated with myself and my inability to find a suitable place that it started to bleed over into other aspects of my life. You see here is the thing, I lost sight on the fact that God was working. I had become ungrateful for the place that I had been blessed with, and I forgot about what lead me to my current home. Two years ago, I was days away from my lease ending with no where to go, I searched and prayed God blessed me with what I needed at that time. I was blessed again to stay here for another year after that. I forgot. I forgot that I am the daughter of the one true and living God, and that He will always provide. And just like that, a ton of bricks-lessons were taught and I was reminded of the goodness and grace of God.  

 Perspective Change

I heard the story of a woman and her child as they jumped from house to house trying to escape from horrible circumstances in their lives. Here I am complaining about my apartment and then I realized, I have a home, I have a roof over my head, and I have safety and protection. So I stopped looking and I started to be thankful. I started to trust that God was going to provide. Everything would happen in His timing. I asked for the prayers and council of good friends, who covered me in prayer and gave me helpful insight. Then the next crazy thing happened, knowing that be faith filled means taking risks. So I prayed it over and knew that God was going to provide for me, and I gave my move out notice to my complex without having another a place to go lined up. In my very calculated and well planned life, this was not an easy thing for me.

For the Love! 


You guys, God is good and He provides and fulfills His promises every single time. With the help of my parents my apartment hunt ended today and I found a new apartment to call home!! I'm so excited about this next chapter in my life as I get to move back into a community that is so dear to my heart, and I get to make new connections, build new friendships, and have more people in my life to love on. Because you know I'm all about loving people! I'm so very excited about loving my new neighbors! 

So I'm moving for the third time in four years and I'm moving on Saturday!!! So this week is going to be filled with thankfulness and packing. For the love, so much packing....

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

To Tulsa with Love

It is incredibly hard to believe that just four years ago I packed up everything that I owned and I moved to city where I only knew a few people. It was a huge risk. A huge leap of faith. Moving to Tulsa meant leaving behind everything that I have ever known. This has been and still is the greatest journey I have ever been on, and I fall more in love with this city and the people in it with each passing day. In these short four years, I have moved three times(and I'm about to do it again), been a member of two amazing churches, taught a bunch of kids how to sing, made some of the most amazing friends, and learned some of the most invaluable lessons.

Over the past four years, I have learned so much about myself. This might be shocking truth but I have always been an incredibly independent person. The about of pressure I put on myself to be successful can be a bit daunting and overwhelming. I always want to do everything with excellence, and it has been a driving force throughout my adult life. But many times, it can be crippling and sometimes way more than I can handle. One of the most important lessons that I have had to learn, is that it is okay to admit that I need help. Admitting that I need help isn't a form of weakness, but in many ways it is a source of strength. I'm a work in progress, and will always be.

But perhaps the greatness lesson, has been my relationship with Christ. I was the girl that went to private Baptist college, I thought I had the whole faith thing figured out. Boy was I wrong! Over the past four years I have experienced some of the deepest highs and lows in my faith. Throughout each time, I have walked away knowing that God has provided. My trust level, my belief, and learning how to do the irrational has greatly improved. God is a provider and He will always fulfill His promises. Trusting in God's timing has been the hardest. Going back to that whole independent thing, but really the "I think I know everything part of my personality": my plan is always the best. Or at least so I thought, but this plan God has for me, oh man it is just so good! Learning and watching it unfold has been both a joy and so scary at the same time.

My relationships are different too four years later. I love my family and moving away was really hard. To say that has been easy is an understatement. But they will still drop everything and show up when I need them. And we eat cheesecake when they come.

The greatest joy has been my friendships. Some of the most precious and dearest people have become a part of my life over the past four years. They have loved me, challenged me, shared their hearts with me, created environments where I have been comfortable to share my heart with them, encouraged growth in my teaching, and growth in my faith. Many of these friendships have taken me by surprised and they have given me such joy. They have allowed me to me and celebrated the funny ha ha hot mess that I can be, and they are just awesome. They are my people, my army of prayer warriors, and my weridos. I can't even begin to list you all by name because I am just so worried that I would forget someone, but you are greatest people on the planet. Thank you for listening to me, praying with me and for me, laughing with me, crying with me, and all of the in between.

So here is to many years with you Tulsa. Here is to new adventures in teaching, new adventures with new friends and old, new adventures to better myself and lifestyle outside of my classroom, new adventures in serving Christ and His church, and of course Josh's Snow Cones and Not Your Grandma's Cupcakes.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Kodaly Level One

Twelve days ago I started on one of the most challenging things of my professional career. I started my Kodaly Levels training. Kodaly is an approach to teaching music. There are three different levels and over the past few days I started working my first level. One of the best decisions I have ever made.

Over the past few days I have devoted hours to learning more about becoming a better musician and an better teacher. I practiced lots of solfege (do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti think Sound of Music for my non-music friends), learned about Kindergarten and First Grade(mad props and respect to elementary music teachers), and pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I cried a lot. I made a lot of great friends. I became better.

I'm so excited to get ready to plan out and take what I learned and apply it to middle school choir! These past two weeks have given me a renewed focus on what I am teaching and how I am teaching it. There are just so many things swimming around in my brain! Being able to apply everything I have learned will have to go in phases. The first phases is for me to continue my own practicing of my own musicianship. The next step is starting with my sixth grade classes. Before school starts it is my goal to develop a plan for sixth grade, the year after that seventh grade, and finally then eighth grade. So my upcoming sixth graders are my guinea pigs but I know starting and building my Kodaly inspired curriculum is going to make them better musicians and people. This will be a long process but I'm excited to be going on this journey.

During this course I learned more about the man behind this approach Hungarian composer and educator Zoltan Kodaly. Kodaly was so deeply considered about the music education of his fellow Hungarian people. Each day in our methodology class our instructor Bev shared a quote from Kodaly, this one she shared today has just spoken to me and brought on one crazy ugly cry.

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

Oh music teacher friends, we are making the biggest difference. I know that there are rough days. I get it, I have them too. But how amazing it is this beautiful thing that we do? We get to teach music AND more importantly we get to teach kids. In a world that is so messy and so painful we get to share music with the world. So don't stop. Keep going. Keep chasing. Keep doing what you do. We got this!

A huge thank you goes out to my fabulous instructors Sandy and Bev, thank you for pouring your knowledge and expertise into us. I'm so glad to be going on this journey with you. Thank you for making me a better musician and teacher. Another huge thank you goes out to Dr. Gerber, thanks man. I'll try not to suck. Thank you to all of my friends that have encouraged and prayed for me and over me for the past two weeks, I really felt your prayers! Finally I'm so thankful that God has given me this gift of music and of teaching, and that He allows me to serve Him by teaching middle school kids. So excited for this next chapter in my teaching journey. For the Love, it is going to be best one yet.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What Are You So Afraid Of?

Fear

I can't even sugar coat this one. Sorry. Everyone has something or even someone that they are afraid of, including children. As a little girl I was scared of thunderstorms, which is a problem if you grew up in Arkansas like myself. I hated storms, when it would storm I would throw the covers over my head and squeeze my Teddy Bear tightly till it passed over. As an adult my fear of thunderstorms has gone away but I still hold on to a few childhood fears like spiders those aren't going away time soon. But there is one fear that has developed as an adult. It has held me back and has had a pretty big grip on my life. I have a fear of failure. Fear that I will work hard towards a goal and falling flat on my face at the end. Fear that I will let others down when I'm not successful. Fear that I will fail my students. It has such a tight hold on my life. Because of this fear I put an insane about of pressure on myself in order to be successful. I found that I was letting my fear control my life. Then I stumbled across this Bible Verse, "It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." Deuteronomy 31:8 

In this verse Moses is talking to Joshua. Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt, and was taking them to the Promise Land. But through a series of other events, Moses was no longer going to lead God's chosen people into the Promise Land, instead Joshua was going to be leading Israel. I don't know about you but I feel like Moses would be a tough act to follow. The guy did part the Red Sea. Moses spoke these words to Joshua. That phrase, the Lord who goes before you, friends how amazing is that?!? God is before us, next to us, and behind us, we are covered. I need to replace my fear with trust. Trust that God goes before me. Rachael Myers, a writer and blogger with She Reads Truth, says it like this, "If I do trust God, then I have nothing to fear and I have every reason for joy." I have every reason for joy. 

So this brings me to what I'm currently doing to face my fear of failure...Kodaly Music Training. I will blog about the specifics of Kodaly at a later time, but I can tell you this, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It is stretching me and growing me. This is taking me out of my comfort zones and causing me to face this fear of failure head on. I'm so excited about how this training will effect my teaching. I'm already learning so much. Is it hard? Yes. Do I want to put my head through a wall? Yes. But I'm trusting in God. Leaving fear behind and knowing I have every reason for joy.
By the way ladies if you need great Bible Reading Plans, She Reads Truth is amazing!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

For Rent

I Would Much Rather Poke Myself in the Eyeballs with Chopsticks.

I am apartment hunting and right now, poking myself in the eyeballs repeatedly with chopsticks sounds more desirable and more productive. I have lived in my current apartment for almost 2 years now. While the first year I had no issues, the past eight months has been problem after problem. Hello, they threw away my wreath because they thought it was a Christmas decoration...it was not. Plus I'm ready to be a little closer to work. This process has been nothing short of a nightmare. As with any experience with moving it is a nightmare. I'm not even to the point where I have to start packing. By the way, packing brings out the worst in me. I might yell at you. I'm sorry ahead of time. There are budgets to keep in mind, locations, pet policies, and other things that I feel like I need in my home. 

I have spent weeks looking and driving all over South Tulsa and Broken Arrow. I have an ever growing stack of brochures, spent countless hours looking through websites and reviews, and toured 20 different apartment complexes. AND I JUST WANT TO BANG MY HEAD AGAINST THE WALL. 

I felt like I would have found the perfect place and then: "oh yeah, no pets allowed," "oh yeah, there are no washers and dryers in the units or hook ups, you would have to take your laundry somewhere else." "oh yeah we have a wait list that goes into November." And my personal favorite..."I have nothing and won't have anything, you don't need to stay." Never mind at this point I would much rather poke myself in the eyeballs with flaming hot chopsticks. 

Let me just address this because the question has been raised, "Meghan why don't you buy a house?" Here is the simplest answer, No. I have some other financial goals that I want to accomplish before taking that next step. For right now, renting is the perfect thing for me and I don't want to mow a yard. Ever.

I have some time before my current lease is up and that gives me some time to make some decisions and I find a place that fits my needs. But For the Love, I just hope that my sanity doesn't go out the window before then. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Daddyo

Happy Father's Day!!!

To all of you dads out there: biological dads, step dads, adopted dads, foster dads, spiritual dads, or if you are mentor dad to anyone on the planet, happy happy day too you! Thank you for leading your families and leaving legacies!

Let me just tell you about my Dad, he is the coolest person on the planet. He is the most extroverted introvert I have ever met. His sense of humor, it is weird. Example: every year for Christmas he asks for socks and underwear, it never fails socks and underwear are on his Christmas list. This past Christmas he got a tablet, which for my dad who is permanently stuck in technology era of 1999 with his Nokia flip phone, this is a big deal. His response, "I'm joining the 20th century, now you people can't make fun of me." Ummm sure Dad, welcome to the 21st century, but that is okay. Now don't worry he did get his socks and underwear for Christmas. In fact on Christmas morning after we opened gifts and got ready to go to my aunt's for Christmas lunch, he gathered my brothers and I around and told us "I have something very important to tell all three of you. I'm very comfortable in my new Christmas underwear." He says it calmly with a straight face and walks away.My brothers and I just stared at each other and bust out laughing. As a kid, my mom had to be at work at 7:30 so she was already on her way to work by the time we were up and moving around, so that meant that my dad to handle getting us all ready for school.  I am not a morning person. The only day I'm a morning person is on December 25th, and even then it is iffy. So on those mornings when I was looking and acting in a lovely (read grumpy) mood, my dad would grab me by the arms and get in my face and scream "it's a beautiful morning!!!" I would crack a smile, but please understand I really just wanted to punch him in the face. Because he is my father, I didn't. 

As funny as my Dad is, he set the bar high for any other man in my life. He is simply the best. This God fearing, John Wayne loving, Sci-Fi nut, teddy bear of a guy is best out there. He is a leader and innovator in his industry. I look at the countless lives and families that my father has impacted and he has left a legacy. If you don't know what my Dad does he is the executive director of a non profit Sheltered Workshop that provides job training and life skills training for adults with disabilities. He has sacrificed so much of himself to make sure that he not only provided for his family but for his clients and their families. He loves his clients and I love it when they light up whenever he enters the room! He has taught me about hard work and determination. He has taught me to always work with a standard of excellence and he taught me how to lead others and demand that same standard of excellence. He has shown selfless love everyday of my life, and cared for his parents in their final days and was a source to comfort as we all grieved through that process. 

So William Bradley Loyd, I hope that you enjoy your John Wayne DVD box set, but please know what your real present from me is accurately displayed in this e card. xoxoMeggio!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Sense from the Senseless

How Do You Make Sense out of the Senseless?

9 lives. Gone. Families and a community left to pick up the pieces. On Wednesday night one man sat though a time of Bible Study and prayer and then open fired killing 9 people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When I checked my Twitter feed that night I read the news and tears started freely flowing. These individuals had come together as the body of Christ, to study the word of God and to cover each other, their families, and their community in prayer. My heart broke. It didn't make sense. Nothing made sense. But how do you put into words your feelings regarding such a senseless tragedy and were do we go from here, how do we respond? Since Wednesday night we have read, heard, and seen much debate on race in America and gun control, but that is not the purpose of this post, if you want to have those discussions with me, lets get coffee and talk it over. For me, my response is with the powerful, scandalous, life changing love of Jesus. 

Love

The love of Jesus is just so crazy to me. His love was so great for us that He gave up His very life so that we might have life. He is a light in a dark world and shines bright. It could be so very easy to get trapped in a cycle of hate. To allow fear and anger to take over our hearts, and forget about the love that was lavished on us. I am not going to lie, I was mad and angry when I first heard the news. My brothers and sisters in Christ had gathered to study God's Word and to pray, and while they were doing that a man filled with evil and darkness sat and listened to their discussions and their prayers and then he opened fire and took their lives. I was filled with hate and anger. But then like a ton of bricks, which is how God does it so many times, I realized I was becoming a part of the cycle of hate. I was meant to be a source of light. 

Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior once said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Simply put while it is okay to mad and angry, we must not become a part of the cycle of hate, but in order to bring true healing to a broken and hurting world, we must bring love. We must show the love and the light of Christ. As I began to wrap my head around this concept, I began to feel peace. 

What Now?

So where does this leave us? Where do we go from here? The first thing we get down on our knees and we wrap the community of Charleston in prayer. We are the Church, the church is not a building but the Bride of Christ, we act like accordingly. We show love and we show light. We live out the verse of Micah 6:8 out, We act justly, we love mercy, and we walk humbly with our God. We act justly by seeking justice against those that harmed and endangered the Body of Christ, we love mercy by showing mercy to even the least of these, fully knowing that our God has already shown mercy, and we walk humbly knowing that even in the darkest of situations God is at work. 

To the families of my fallen brothers and sisters, I pray for peace and for comfort. I pray that you will be surrounded by the comforting and powerful love of Christ. I pray that you will be able to face the next day and the day after that, fully knowing that some days you just have to take it five minutes at a time. I pray that you will never feel alone but covered with compassion and grace. 
To the church leaders of Emanuel AME Church, I thank you for your leadership. I pray for healing for your church family and I pray for wisdom and discernment in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. You are so deeply loved. 
To the community leaders of Charleston, South Carolina, I pray for wisdom and guidance. I pray over your leadership as you begin to heal your community.
For the Church in America, I pray that we do not turn a blind eye. I pray that we will live out the high calling of Christ to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths, and that we will love our neighbors as ourselves. I pray that we will not be consumed with hate but instead consumed with God's love and show it everywhere and to everyone.

It may not seem like it now, but I know that in this situation, what Satan intended for evil, God will use for good. Hell doesn't get the victory. Because that battle has been fought and it has won, only by the blood of Christ.