Thursday, December 29, 2016

There is Still Some Hope

This time last year I was looking forward to moving into 2016 and experiencing all it had to offer. My one word for the year of 2016 was hope. I don’t know if you were under a rock or just pretending, but a lot of 2016 wasn’t hopeful. Just look at the all of the celebrities we lost. And for my Oklahoma educators--just look at the election results. Some things in 2016 were good...I got a dog. Say hi to Hershey!

Last year one of my biggest blogger inspirations Rob Miller challenged us to blog our one reason for despair and our one reason for hope. I pulled an audible and offered a few more reasons for hope. As I look back, the reasons I listed for hope I still hold strong; they are great reasons for hope.

Reason Number One:
The first reason I listed last year was a number: 140. That was the number of students I had in my classes last year. That number grew! My students give me hope. They are smart; they are talented; they are awkwardly funny; they are hardworking. They challenge me to be a better educator, woman, human, and musician. Making music is such an honor. One that I don’t take lightly, and the fact I actually get to wake up and teach kids how to sing, how to be musicians is the best. But more than becoming great musicians, my students are becoming better humans. Better humans that care for each other, seek beauty and truth in the world, and never seek the easy way out. Also, they give me coffee and donuts.

Reason Number Two:
I still work with some amazing educators! They are passionate and do whatever it takes to do what is best for their students. It is truly amazing to watch them do their thing! I’m so very blessed to teach in my building. It is truly wonderful to be so blessed.

Reason Number Three:
Oklahoma still has the best educators around. This year my #oklaed PLN challenged me to new heights in my profession. I love how they have made this terrible year better. They share ideas, they provide some of the best advice, they are funny, they uplift me, and they are so freakin funny!

Reason Number Four:
2017 is the year of the donut.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


The month of November was a bit of a rough one my fellow educators, but somehow we have survived. Or maybe we just keep telling ourselves that we have survived. However, if we look through the bull crap, we will see a lot of different things to be thankful for in education this November.

We are still here.

I know that might sound a little crazy since a lot of teachers are leaving this state faster than cheddar pretzels at a Weight Watchers meeting. But for right now in these moments, we are here, and we have each other. We have each other’s backs. I will tell you right now that I would go to the mat for any of my oklaed peeps and fellow educators any day of the week. Things might be bad right now, and they might be bad for a little bit or a lot bit longer but we are still here, and we still have each other. I will say it over and over and over again. There is nothing quite like the oklaed community of educators.

We still impact lives.

No matter what we are reaching students. Since the election, my students have been my greatest source of joy. I love watching their successes and watching them fall in love with music. I will admit that past few weeks have been hard, but they have proved to me time and time again this is the profession that I’m meant to be in. You still have an impact, no matter it what setting you are in, you can still and you do impact and change the lives of the students and adults that you come in contact with every single day.

We still have donuts and coffee.

There is no reason to for me to explain this one any further.

So Happy Thanksgiving teachers! Be awesome and be amazing. Eat lots of pie today!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Electives Matter

*Thank you to those in my PLN that helped with the creation of these questions. Josh Flores, you the real MVP.*

I’m back and leading one of the fastest hours in the Twitterverse on Sunday night. The oklaed Twitter chat is one of the best sources of professional development. This Sunday night at 8 pm Central Standard time I will moderating the chat and our topic is Electives Matters.

Clearly I love Electives. I mean I am an Electives/Fine Arts teacher, and it has my dream since I was a child. So if you want to get a jump start on the questions and have some brilliant answers go forth and be fabulous! If you answer in GIF forms ahem Rick Cobb, you will be my BFF.

Q1: What are the Electives/Specials offerings at your school?

Q2: What does the phrase “educating the whole child.” mean to you?

Q3: Why are Electives important to school culture?

Q4: If you could choose one Elective to be required for all students, what would it be?

Q5: If you could teach any Elective what would it be? Think out of the box!!!

Q6: How do we protect Electives in a time of budget cuts?

Q7: Should kids lose their Electives/Specials time to receive intervention?

Q8: Follow up to question seven, what other intervention ideas can we use to ensure that students are served correctly but don’t lose their Electives/Specials offerings?

Q9: What is your personal reason for fighting for Electives/Specials in our schools and our state?

Q10: How can you show support for your school’s Electives/Specials programming?

Monday, November 14, 2016

What Comes Next

So on last Tuesday night when it became very clear that SQ 779 wasn’t going to pass, I started going through a wide range of emotion. From anger to uncontrollable sadness I couldn’t even handle. I cry a lot all the time anyway, so it should come as no surprise that I cried. Yes, a pay raise was a nice silver lining, but it was the idea that education was something important in this state. But it didn’t happen. I wasn’t a huge fan of 779 from the get go, but it was the only viable option to raise teacher salaries and to raise classroom spending. The real reason I wanted SQ 779 to pass was so our legislature could see just how much education was respected in this state. Because that is at an all time low...

Just while I was in line to vote, I had to listen to a man screaming loudly, “Teachers are lazy and need get real jobs and stop complaining.” I told him I was a teacher, and I was uncomfortable and hurt by his comments about my profession and myself. This was a relief to the people around me until he called me a dumb bitch and repeated his whole get a real job crap. This is the “respect” we are getting. The greatest part of this story was not his complete jerkness but the fact that when he got up to get his ballot, he was shocked he had to register beforehand. Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to hate on teachers--you might just need one.

What makes it worse...the argument that seems to have been made was people didn’t want to raise the sales tax a penny, but wanted to have the legislatures fix the problem of low teacher pay and educational funding. But the same exact people that started, created, made it all happen were re-elected! For the life of me I couldn’t understand it, and I still don’t.

I’m hearing and seeing so many happy hopeful educators and supporters of educators looking forward to this upcoming legislative session. Now normally I would be the girl riding my unicorn in a sea of glittery rainbows and throwing donuts to the people, but I’m not buying the Pollyanna let’s hold hands and sing campfire songs business. The amount of ways teachers have been given the middle finger lately is alarming. It sucks. And I have cried and consumed so many comfort donuts, it is out of control. I would love it if our legislatures really and truly come up with a plan and listened to those they represented instead of pursuing their own personal agendas of passing through legislation that is ultimately going to be ruled unconstitutional, but I’m not holding my breath.

So what comes next...I don’t know. I’m single, don’t own property in Oklahoma, and my family doesn’t live here, so it makes sense I can go to back home and make more money. But I love my job, my admin, my students, my co-workers, my community, and the life I have built here. I don’t know what comes next, but I what I do know is I will still wake up and teach my students how to sing and be better people. I’m going to stop writing about politics because it stresses me out, and I’m going to focus my attention on this blog towards building up other teachers and sharing classroom resources. This might get better...but I’m just not so sure.

*Side note to every person that has pulled me aside and told me I matter and what I do matters: thank you! You make me believe in unicorns again.*

Sunday, October 23, 2016

History Has Its Eyes On You

Photo Credit: Georgia Broadcasting Company
So I have been listening to a lot of the Hamilton soundtrack. Lately, I’m completely obsessed. I love everything about this masterpiece of a show. Because who doesn’t love rapping founders. I laugh, I dance, I sing along, I cry, I laugh some more, and I dance more...and of course I cry some more. The song that gets me every single time, a lovely little duet between George Washington and Alexander Hamilton called One Last Time. George Washington is stepping down and not running for a third term and the line that gets me every time, “if I teach the nation how to move on, it outlives me when I’m gone.” I cry every single time. Every single time. If you haven't watched PBS Great Performances and their documentary Hamilton's America do it now.

They idea that our founders had for democracy and free elections is just so profound. Let us not take lightly the responsibility that we have, our right to vote is one of the hallmarks of our democracy.

Another Hamiltonian idea that I hold on to is that “History has its eyes on you.” It is hard to know that you are living in a historical moment at the time, but don’t miss this moment. Don’t forget your important role in this very moment. Don’t believe for one second that you don’t matter. History has its eyes on you and years from now don’t regret that you didn’t act. Years from now when your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and students ask you where you were and what you did, don’t say you stayed home, instead of saying you made your voice heard, regardless of the outcome.

I have stayed away from writing about the presidential election because chances are you have your mind made up and what I have to say won’t change it. But for those of you that want to stay home, please listen to what I have to say. Don’t stay home. If you can’t stomach the thought to vote for the Republican nominee or the Democrat nominee or even a third party candidate, you can skip that question. Yes, the presidential election is important, but I would venture to say the items that are just below that question are even greater importance to your daily life. Those candidates and questions have a greater impact on your daily life, the life of your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and anyone in your lives. Your ballot won’t be invalid and what a statement that you could make, “I don’t like any of these people, but my vote and making my voice heard on issues that affect my day in and day out matters, I’m not wasting this moment.”

I know that I have readers from outside of Oklahoma, but I’m speaking to my Oklahomans. History has its eyes on you, so for the love do not stay home. This past year was a rough one, and you have a chance to enact real change. Yes you! This election season, we have seen the rise of the teacher candidates, a group of pro-education candidates seeking to right the wrongs of a group of legislators that made poor decisions that directly affected the children of Oklahoma. You have a chance to vote for individuals that aren’t career politicians, that are running for office for you. They are running to make sure your voice is heard and that you are valued. There are a host of state questions that we will affect your lives, and you have a say if they become a part of your state constitution. Yes, you, not a guy in Washington, not a guy in the State! There is too much at stake for you to stay at home. I want to you to think of a child that you know that is under the age of 18, they can’t vote, they can’t have their voice heard, you have to be their voice. Their future is in our hands. We can’t let them down. I have 137 reasons to vote. 137 beautiful, creative, funny, smart, adorable, hormonal, and messy reasons to vote. What is happening to their education is not fair, yes there things that if approved would make my life easier, but I didn’t get into teaching to make my life easier I got into teaching for 137 lives that mentioned. Don’t miss this moment. For the love do the right thing and go to the polls.

I am just a passionate educator that loves to watch The West Wing, so I am by no means a political insider, but I can give you some resources that can help you make some informed decisions. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask.

For a breakdown, the state legislature candidates check out my friend Dallas and his numerous breakdowns and profiles on candidates on Blue Cereal Education.

For a breakdown on the Oklahoma State Questions has done a great job in looking at the questions, thank you to my friends Ashley Bowser and Jeremy Stevens for sharing this valuable resource with me.

History has its eyes on you. Don’t throw away your shot! Plus after you vote you get a sticker, and who doesn’t love stickers?!?!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Not In Vain.

Let’s just say I have been a little off my game lately. Alright fine, I have been really off my game lately. I’m going to be real and honest with you: I have wanted to be a teacher as long as I can remember. However in the past three to four weeks, I have said the phrase, “I don’t know if I can do this job anymore,” more times than I would like to admit. What might surprise you is it is not the kids themselves that make me feel this way; if I could just teach kids how to sing as choir, I would be happy. What has made me feel this way? The extra. The things we as educators are now expected to do: the activity fund I am to manage and countless other things that come along with this job. I found myself overwhelmed, emotional, and downright insane. Pair this with a building under construction and some of the most ridiculous All State Choir audition pieces ever, you got yourself a super tired Meghan that is crying into her donuts and wine. (Side Note: donuts and wine are a delicious combo, and you should try it.)

People say they love me because of my unicorn and rainbow goodness and how I view life from that lens. There have been no unicorns; there were no rainbows. I would be naive to think I am the only one feeling this way. I think everyone right now is struggling with something. This election cycle has worn everyone out. We are fighting not only for ourselves but for our students so they can get the best. We are doing more with less. The reality is that if I could just teach my kids and not have the extra I would be a million times more unicorny than humanly possible. Forms, paperwork, auditions, meetings, blah, blah, blah….I can’t do it anymore.

But….there is something bigger at stake. Music is too important. Quality music education is too important for me to stop. I have this Zolton Kodaly quote framed on my desk, “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.” Let those words sink in; I have to read them and remind myself daily of this promise. There is too much at stake for me to stop. Music education in many ways is under attack and under valued. I am the only middle school choir teacher these kids are going to have in this very moment. I have to make sure choral music is valued by them, their families, and this community. This calling of mine is bigger and way more important than I ever imagined. Mankind will be happier when it has learned to live with music, and what I do will not be in vain. It might feel right now like I can’t do this. That I can’t handle what is in front of me--but it is so important. I can’t let my unicorns run away and my rainbows to fade.

So instead of the crazy, I’m going to focus on the good. A happy Men’s Choir that loves to sing, a Sixth Grade Girls’ choir that just wants to learn more, a Show Choir that wants to be challenged everyday, and the cutest dog a girl could ask for. I will not live in vain and will work to make mankind happier by letting it learn to live with music.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Self Care for Teachers

*I’m writing this post because I need to start truly putting it into practice myself.*

I am a little overwhelmed, and it is only the middle of September. I find that while I will be first one to check on other’s needs, I often times neglect my own needs. For teachers especially, when you focus on and spend so much time meeting the needs of others, you forget to meet your needs. But the reality I face is very simple: I can’t be the best for my students and do what is best for them when I am tired, overwhelmed, unfocused, and not motivated.

Over the past few days and weeks, I have been trying to find ways to better care for myself, and I have found five things that I’m going to live by when it comes to Self Care.

  1. Week day just for you: Monday nights are very important to me. Sometimes events need to happen on Mondays, but I keep that one night a week open for things just for me. Mondays are always crazy and just to have the start of the week to chill and focus for the rest of the week is so important. Plus this is also when Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelor/Bachelorette happens. All important things. So if I agree to meet you on a Monday, know you are very special too me!
  2. Find your TRIBE: My friends and family are my tribe of people. Having a group of lean on and gather support from is so critical. I am so thankful for the love and advice they give me. Plus, we have fun! Yay fun!
  3. Learn to say no: This is a hard one for me. I’m working on it; just remember, sometimes you might think you are the right person for the job, but someone else can do that job too.
  4. Ask for help when you need it: This is another one I am working on. I can’t do it all, and I need help sometimes; there is nothing wrong with delegating tasks. Also there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help by talking to a professional. Sometimes people need that next step. Seeking help is never a sign of weakest in my book.
  5. Walk away from the unimportant: I’m in this season now. I love my family/PLN that I have grown since I started participating in the #oklaed Sunday chats. However, lately those chats have left me more overwhelmed than refreshed and started to cause some stress. For me I need a little break. I’m not saying my Sunday night Twitter chat is a bad thing or unimportant (I will start chatting again), but for right now in this season I need to walk away. I think just a few weeks without participating will only enhance my experiences when I return.
  6. Remember your passion and calling: I have been called to teach. This is all I have ever wanted to do with life. Impacting the lives of children is far more important than any amount of stress in my life. I need to remember and remind myself daily that it is and will be worth it. My why for this job is far greater than my stress.

What works for me might not work for you--and that is okay--but please take time to take care of yourself. If you aren’t at your best, your students can tell, and they will pick up on that as well. Just be you, and be the best you that you can be.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Dear Oklaed,

Dear Oklaed,

I could never have even imagined that when I first check it on a Sunday Twitter chat how that was going to transform not only my teaching but my life. Making sure that I'm there and present each Sunday has become such an important part of my life. As much as I love this community and what it has brought to my life, I would be lying if I said that it wasn't a little overwhelming.

I love it. I love this community; I love what you all do, and I think that you are all amazing and passionate educators. But I need a break. The start of the school and All-State Choir Season as me not just overwhelmed, but super overwhelmed. I just need some time to focus on me and chill on Sunday nights. I won't be gone forever, but I think taking a few weeks off is what I need.

I will still be blogging and tweeting around, and I'm sure that I will see many of you at an EdCamp, or a Happy Hour!

Keep doing the amazing things that you are doing. Keep loving kids, loving life, and loving donuts.

For The Love,


Sunday, September 11, 2016

15 Years Later

It seems to be the question that so many ask around this time of year, "Where you when 9/11 happened?" This question often brings on a full range of emotions, from sadness to rage and everything in between.

Where was I that day? When the first tower was hit was in my 1st Hour 7th Grade Girls Choir class at Ramsey Junior High, but I didn't find out about the attack until I got to my 2nd Hour Lifeskills class. I was sitting in my English class with our eyes glued to the TV when we heard about the Pentagon and the plane that crashed in a field in and then as the towers fell. I will never be able to get the image of that bright blue sky with those dark black clouds out of my mind. I hold that memory forever.

When I think about that day and the days that followed, I didn't understand. I didn't understand the world that we were living in and what was to come. I have always had some level of positivity in my life, I have always had unicorns and rainbows surrounding me. If you think that I'm too unicorny now, you never met seventh grade Meghan. However after that day, and really after those moments that morning, I had no unicorns or rainbows. I was twelve years old and just days away from beginning a teenager. I had no clue how the world was about to change. Sometimes when I think about that day, I find myself feeling the same feelings that I had as a young teenager.

I was the same age as my students are now when 9/11 happen. My students are post 9/11 babies; they have no clue what the world was like before. They don't know about the world where people could walk with their family members and friends to the gate of an airport and meet them at the gate. They don't know the world without terrorism being at the forefront of everyone's minds. They don't know the world without war.

Educators today face many uphill battles, but I truly believe one of the hardest battles is to getting students to understand what that day truly meant to us all. I believe this is true of any historical moment. I have heard stories and seen those telling their stories about where they were and what they were doing when they found out about the assassination of JFK or the explosion of the Challenger, but I couldn't identify with it, not because I didn't understand the significance but simply because I had no first-hand experience with the tragedy. Our students understand what happened, but they can't connect to it. It is our job to help them connect. It is our job to tell our story. It is our job to make sure that they understand where we came from so we can guide where we are going. They have to understand that the situation we find ourselves in our a result of what happened that day 15 years ago.

I felt that 15 years ago I lost my sense of innocence, we all did. I lost my sense of safety. That was the intended goal of the terrorists that planned and committed these attacks to take away our innocence and to take away our safety. But we rise, every time we rise. We take challenges, we take the pain, and we take a deep hurt, and we go forward. In the face of darkness and evil, we have hope.  I will never forget that day, and the days after, and know it is my duty make sure my students understand those feelings that I felt. More importantly, it is my job to make sure that they understand how much love and more hope that we need in this world.

Monday, September 5, 2016

100% Real

Photo Cred: Justin Rosser
Sometimes people suck. Sometimes people say mean things. For the love, people say mean, hurtful, and harmful things. Sometimes they don’t mean it, and it just happens, but then sometimes they know exactly what they are saying and what they are doing. As educators, we develop a tough skin to all of the things said about us and said to us, but sometimes we just can’t have a tough skin about some things.

I love my job as a Vocal Music teacher. I love every part of it, and yes, some of it is hard to love, but I do. One of those hard to love areas is when I hear the one comment (in some form or another) every Elective and Fine Arts teacher hates hearing, “You aren’t a real teacher.” I can handle when I hear this from those outside of education, but when I hear it from other educators, I can’t even describe the hurt I feel. Just stop. Please for the love just stop.

I can assure you, what I do in my classroom is 100%. I went to and graduated from a real college. I earned a real degree. I teach at a real school. I teach in a real classroom. I teach real children. I am a real teacher. My classroom and my subject area might not look like your classroom and your subject area, but I do not teach at and in some magic fairyland. It is 100% real.

So many students I have had the opportunity to teach and love come to school not because they love going to math class; they come to school so they can sing, play an instrument, draw and create amazing masterpieces, act in plays, play sports, create computer codes, and learn a new language. For many students who feel they would never be successful in another area of their school career, they are successful in mine. They show up each day knowing no matter what happens in another class or any other circumstance, they can come to my classroom and be so successful. If that isn’t real, I don’t know what is….

This needs to stop. Teachers, we must stop shaming each other and check the egos at the door. It doesn’t help us and certainly doesn’t help our students. We are fighting uphill battles daily and fighting each other shouldn’t be one them. For the love, we need to get it together, before we end up biting ourselves in the butt.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Force of Change

While recently going through some old files, I came across my philosophy of education paper that I wrote for my Intro to Music Education class my sophomore year of college. I had it all it that paper, quotes from the Music Education giants Carl Orff, my man Zolton Kodáy, and Edwin Gordon, Arthur Holmes because I went to OBU and I thought that is what I was supposed to do, and all of the big words. I made an A on that paper, and I’m sure sophomore MegLo was thrilled by that grade, but semi-adult Meghan has to laugh. Do I still believe in every word I wrote? Yes. Do I think that my personal philosophy of Music Education has changed? Yes.

While the words of Orff, Gordon, and Kodály are important, but what I found is that my view and my role has the educator has changed. I had no idea at the age of 20 when I wrote that paper what I was going to encounter in the classroom. After five years in the classroom, I still think of myself as a baby teacher, and I have no clue what I’m doing. The reality is a finally found what works for me. My philosophy is simple; I don’t need the fancy words of Carl Orff, Edwin Gordon, or even Zolton Kodáy to determine how I view education. What I need is my words, my thoughts, because, after all, it is my story. My story, my journey to share with the world. My philosophy is deeply rooted in my why. Why do I teach? Because every child deserves the privilege to sing. My philosophy is simply this: Music Education should be a force for change in this world, and it is my job to bring about that change.

We live in a world that is driven by instant gratification. We want it done quickly, and we want results now. We stop to realize the beauty of the world. We stop to realize the beauty of sound, the beauty of silence. We lose that sense of wonder. We have to have a force of change to experience this beauty; it is my job to help my students discover that feeling again.

We live in a digital age, and while I love technology and what it has done for education, sometimes are just too dependent on it. Kids need to play without a screen, kids to experience and feel the music they are making. Kids need to know just exactly how powerful their voice can be. We will need a break from the screens sometimes. For some of my EdTech friends, please don’t take what I have to say to offensively, but sometimes our students are too tech driven. They need a break; they need to experience the world without their devices if only for an hour or two. Technology has its place in the choir, but choir and music are experiences. They need those experiences.

Music causes us to pause and reflect. It is my job to teach my students what to do with those pauses and what to do with those reflections.

What is your philosophy? Your journey? Your story?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Calling All First Year Teachers!!!

We can try to fight it, we can deny it, but we can’t change it. School is coming. Each year always brings new excitement, and of course, it always brings a whole new crop of professionals into this crazy profession.

First-year teachers, this is for you! Some of you are coming fresh out of college teacher preparation programs, and some of you are alternatively certified and leaving one profession and entering into another profession. Regardless of your path into the classroom, you are here now; buckle up it is about to get so good! First-year teachers keep me on my toes, and I am still a newbie teacher (or at least I think I am)! You are coming into your classrooms with fresh perspective, energy, and excitement. All of those are things veteran teachers are incredibly jealous of and wish they had. I love getting to know first-year teachers and developing friendships with you because you have something to teach me.

I remember my first year of teaching. I remember my successes and my failures, the times I laughed, the times I cried, and all of the crazy moments in between. There are so many things I wish I knew back then, and I want to share those with you.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

I went into my first year of teaching thinking I had finally arrived. I had my college degree and did my internship; I got this! I could not have been more wrong. My undergrad degree prepared me for a lot of things: how to plan a rehearsal, how to teach songs, how to conduct, and how to plan a concert. What they didn’t prepare me for: how to communicate with parents, how to run a parent-teacher conference, how to handle the student who just won’t do anything (in music education world you just think every kid will love music), how to manage an activity fund, or how to keep track of the nineteen million forms you have to keep in order. I thought I had it all under control; I was quickly reminded that was not the case, and I needed some help. There is nothing weak or wrong with asking for help; I still ask for help. Ask someone to read that email to a parent before you send it. Ask your administrator if they could sit in on a conference with you if you are worried about the parent. Ask someone to come in and watch you teach; take their feedback and put it into place. If you are struggling with a student, ask if anyone else is; don’t think it is just you. Chances are it isn’t. There are countless teachers on your site that want you to be successful. They know what they are doing, and they can help you. Use that help!

Remember You Are A Professional

You have worked so hard to get to this place in your career. You are a professional. Treat yourself as one, and always make sure you are respected as one as well. If you are in an email back and forth with a parent, stop--be the professional. You don’t need to engage in that conversation; send it on to your administrator and let them help you. Dress like a professional. Talk professionally. Make your students believe you have been doing this for years! Don’t argue with a student; those go nowhere, and you lose credibility with the rest of your students. They might be going through things you could never imagine.

Procedures Are Your Friends

I love procedures, and I have a procedure for everything in my classroom. There are procedures for coming into my room and leaving my room. There are procedures for passing out music, for passing in bell work, for sitting, for standing, and getting on and off risers. If it happens in my room, there is a procedure for it. I don’t just do procedures the first day of school and hope they get it. I spend the first three weeks of school hammering in those procedures. Of course, I sprinkle a little content in there too. After those three weeks, do I stop talking about procedures? Heck no! Every day is a reminder about procedures. To quote my friend Matt Fore, “Procedures get practiced 180 days. Otherwise, you get chaos.” Take the time needed to work on those procedures. It pays off, I promise!

Get To Know Your Students

This might sound like a no-brainer, but I thought I did a really good at knowing my students. But looking back on it, I think I could have done a better job. Just like I mentioned with procedures, spend those first couple weeks of school getting to know your students. Play games and do team building activities. Just as important, make sure they know a little bit about you, too!


Cherish your weekends. Take time to take care of you. Do fun things! It is all about time management, I set a deadline for myself: if it isn’t done by 4 pm, it can wait. Don’t overload yourself. You have a long career ahead of you! Brace and pace yourself!

Get on Twitter

Chances are you might already be on Twitter, but if not, this is your chance to grow yourself professionally. I love Twitter! This is the best professional development I have ever received! There are awesome educators out there, and you will learn and grow from them! If you need a list of some to start with, check my “Blogs to Read” page; they are the best! If you are a teacher in Oklahoma, take the time to make the Sunday night #oklaed Twitter chats a part of your life! We chat every Sunday, 8 PM CST. It is well worth your time and will help you so much.

You got this, teachers! Go out there and change the world!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Stick Your Landings

If you are following me on Twitter, if you aren’t click here I promise I’m a fun kind of crazy, you have noticed that I’m borderline obsessed with the Olympics. Okay fine, I’m absolutely obsessed with the Olympics. As I’m currently writing this, I’m cheering on Team USA in Men’s Water Polo.

For the love, the Olympics are just my favorite time. I love the Summer Games, and I love the Winter Games. I’m also incredibly emotionally invested in the games. I cry. I cry a lot. I scream, I cheer, and I holler. I am deeply invested in TEAM USA. I don’t care if you judge me or think I am crazy. I will still jump off my couch and practice my gold medal winning gymnastics dismounts every single time.

Speaking of gymnastics dismounts, I want to talk about the queen. I’m not talking about Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas, although they are queens in their own right. I’m talking about Kerri Strug, a member of the 1996 Magnificent Seven. One of my fondest memories of my childhood was watching the Team USA Women’s Gymnastics Team Finals. My parents let me stay up late and look at the event, of course, I had to do some begging. I loved those ladies. The gymnastics world had been dominated by the Romanian and Russian national teams and America finally had it’s shot. America was just points away from clenching Team Gold, but the unthinkable happened. Kerri Strug tore some ligaments in her ankle. Her vault score was the difference between where those ladies would stand on the medal podium. She was in searing pain. It was all over her face. She knew what she had to for her team to win. She vaulted. She vaulted for her life. SHE STUCK THE LANDING. FOR THE LOVE SHE STUCK THE LANDING!!!! If you don’t believe me, or you have forgotten about his amazing moment in American History watch this, and watch it now.

You might be thinking, Meghan what in the world does that have to do with education? Stay with me here; we are all Kerri Strug. Educators in Oklahoma have some torn ligaments in our ankles. The 2015-2016 school year was one that many would like to forget. We were met with body blows after body blows. We knew the budget shortfall and crisis would be bad, but we would have never imagined it being that bad. For many we are starting the 2016-2017 with less money, some with one less day of school a week and still the same expectations, some of us are having to absorb extra students into our classes because the teacher shortage is a real problem. But we still have to vault. Lean in close; this is good, we will stick the landing every single time.

We still stick the landing every time because our students need a champion. We still stick the landing every time because we are professionals, and we know the job we have at hand. We still stick the landing every time because we know the importance of that landing, and it is the difference between success and failures for our students. It is painful, and it is hard, but we do it anyways because we know that the result, in the end, is worth it.

So this upcoming school year, stick your landings. Raise your hands high on the dismount and enjoy every moment. Oh and GO TEAM USA!!!!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dear Target Mom,

This week I experienced one of the most surreal experiences as an educator. This experience was not in my classroom, but in the school supply aisle in Target. As I was there getting some pencils and index cards, I overheard a woman ranting and raving over her child’s school supply list. What was she so upset about? That the school had a box of Kleenex as one of the required supplies. According to her, if it were something her child would not personally use, it shouldn’t be purchased by individual parents, but by the classroom teacher. I didn’t know this woman, but I politely introduced myself to her and explained to her why I, as a teacher, ask for Kleenex on my supply list. Her response: “Buy that s**t yourself and don’t use my hard earned money, you lefty communist teacher.” She walked away, and I walked away in tears.  Of course, like any other stressful situations, I figured out what to say after the fact.

Dear Target School Supply Mom,

My name is Meghan Loyd, and I am the school teacher you berated: “Buy that s**t yourself and don't use my hard money, you lefty communist teacher.” Engaging you in the school supply aisle wouldn’t have been the appropriate thing do, but I hope if you were to hear what I have to say, maybe it could change your mind. First all, I don’t know you or your financial situation; it is none of my business, but please don’t assume you know me and my financial situation. My money is hard earned too. I have rent, car payments, health care expenses, utilities, and fur babies to care for; yes, I buy some supplies for my classroom, but if I tried to buy all of my school supplies myself, it would provide a huge strain to my budget.

I understand times are hard, and many families are struggling. I’m sure if that is the case for your family, and you can’t afford some of the community supplies on your child’s list, if you talked to that teacher, they could work something out for you. However, taking into consideration your response toward me, that isn’t the case. Teachers across this state are being asked to do more with less. When we ask for a box of Kleenex on our supply list, it is not because we are too lazy to buy them ourselves; it is because we know if we did, we would be out of Kleenex by October.

I wish we lived in a place where education was of the highest value. I wish we as educators didn’t have to ask for supplies and all of our supplies just so happened to be provided for us. However, that is not the case, and we need your help sometimes. If it is too much, please talk to your child’s teacher directly; please don’t bad mouth all teachers in the aisle of a Target.

If you want to help, here is what you can do: don’t buy just one Kleenex box, buy two. Buy extra pens and pencils your child’s teacher can use for their whole class. Or, maybe you just purchase an extra supply set for a child in need. Those are things we need--what we don’t need are haters in the back-to-school aisle.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Kodaly Level Two Wrap Up

Last summer I began my journey into the world of all things Zolton Kodály. Little did I know this training would not only challenge me as a musician and an educator but as a human being. I find myself each moment discovering more and more about this amazing man and educator, and each time my mind is blown away.

For those of you unfamiliar with Zoltan Kodály, here is just a brief little overview. Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967) was a Hungarian composer, philosopher, and nationalist. While he did not develop the method, his colleagues and students took his ideas and teachings and developed the Kodály method of music teaching. According to Kodály educator Susan Brumfield, “In reality, the teaching inspired by Kodaly may be more accurately described as an approach to music education, based on Kodály’s vision for the musical, intellectual, physical, and spiritual development of children. Kodály-inspired music education is known for its sequential development of skills, emphasis on music literacy and singing-based curriculum” (First, We Sing! Kodaly-Inspired Teaching 8).

When educators like myself want to achieve certification in the Kodály approach, there are three levels of training to complete. These levels offer educators intensive training in musicianship, methodology, conducting, and folk dancing. Yes, you read that correctly, folk dancing! Last summer I took my Level One training, and you can read all about that here: Level One Wrap Up. Level One was intense; Level Two was insane. But, a great insane.

To start off, let me tell you just a few moments that will go down in the Meghan Loyd, Hot Mess Express Hall of Fame. Trust me, this is a great Hall of Fame. I should sell tickets just for a viewing.

Hot Mess Express Number 1: The Books.
I ordered all of my needed materials for class three weeks before classes started. Well, for whatever unexplained reason, UPS will not deliver to my apartment complex. They will deliver to the Post Office, and then the Post Office will deliver to me. I did not know this--if I had, I would have ordered them five years in advance. The class was set to start, but I still did not have materials; luckily a wonderful friend of mine let me borrow her materials. My books arrived on Week Two, Day Three of my two-week course. However, the Postal Service delivered them to my apartment complex office that opens at 9 am and closes at 5 pm...I was in class from 8:30-5:00. I now have my books. The class was over, but I had the resources. When I called UPS, they told me if they could deliver to my apartment complex, they would have just placed them outside of my door. Thanks for the reassuring information of what you would do if you could have done something. Get your life together, UPS!

Hot Mess Express Number 2: The Dress.
One day I wanted to be fancy, and I wore a dress. That day there was a tornado warning and wind gusts that gave me more than one Marilyn Monroe moment. But perhaps the greatest moment came in folk dancing: when I decided to get fancy and do a little spin, my dress decided to do a little spin too and showed my instructor my pink polka dot undies.

Hot Mess Express Number Three: The Glasses.
My dog ate my glasses. For real, it happened. In the middle of the night, said puppy got hold of my frames I need to function and chewed them to bits. So, I missed my morning musicianship class because I needed to get new frames and lenses.

While those moments will forever be in my mind when I think about Kodály Level Two, the moments of learning will always outshine the crazy. I finally understand modes, along with the tagline “What the Phrygian?” When I become a better musician, I become a better educator. I learned to “cut the crap” and that my students should be working harder than I am. I hand my students everything on a silver platter, and I now I realize the huge disservice I have done them. Do they know the concepts, or have they just leaned so heavily on the crutch I gave them that they make me think they know the concepts? I have a huge habit of singing while conducting, and I need to break that habit. I’m just giving my students one more place “to read” from; it is confusing for them. Are they following my mouth, or are they following my conducting gestures? At any rate, this only creates a crutch to their learning.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I write about community. I believe educators need community. My Kodály training has provided me with the greatest community I could have ever asked for, and for that I am thankful. These music educators are amazing to me. They have made me laugh till I cried and almost peed my pants, they embraced and accepted my quirky brand of crazy, they have inspired me, and they have empowered me. To my Kodály Ballers, thank you. You are my tribe, my people, and my heart. Growing and learning with you has been my greatest joy. My instructors are amazing. To Sandy Knudsen and Bev Aynan, I will never be able to repay you for your guidance, mentorship, and love. Perhaps the best way I can is through my teaching. I strive daily to make you proud! Kodály has given me another family of music educators, and I love that! We cannot do this incredibly important job alone. We need each other.

My biggest take away is this: we need music now more than ever before. Zolton Kodály once said, “We must look forward to a time when all people in all lands are brought together through singing, and when there is universal harmony.” When Kodaly was at the height of his career, and his beloved Hungary was reeling from the aftermath of World War I, he lived through World War II and watched his country fall behind the Iron Curtain. I can’t imagine he thought things could get any worse for his land and his people. He held onto hope and believed the world could be brought together through singing. We need music today. We need to sing. We need to sing loudly and together. We need to believe our song will bring peace. At the end of our Level Two concert, and at the end of many sessions meetings of Kodaly Educators across the nation, they close out the meetings with the song “Harmonia Mundi.” This 16th Century German Chorale arranged by Hungarian Lázló Vikár with English text by Sean Deibler leaves me in tears every time. There is something magical about community singing, and in today’s climate, these words need to be sung.

We gather here together with joyful hearts and minds.
To raise our voices ever, our distance souls to bind.
To remember in this moment of friendship, love, and joy.
That music made together can one day heal mankind.