Monday, January 25, 2016

Fight with Love

I am sure that there is someone out there that is annoyed with my unicorns and rainbows attitude. I know that it can be a bit much sometimes. For me, I have to try to see the world in a positive light. But I cannot apolgize for who I am at my core, I'm just full of unicorns and rainbows and I will always talk about loving kids.

We have lots of issues to talk about in our educational community. What gets me fired up about talking about these issues is my love for kids. What upsets me most about a 47 million dollar budget cut, is because it isn't what is best for kids. So many decisions are made and many of those decisions aren't what is best for kids.

I talk about loving kids and loving this profession, because we need too. The moment we stop talking about why we love our students, why we love our profession, and we do this...we lose. We lose the battle. Someone has to fight for our students. We have to be their voice. We should never stop talking about loving kids. It might some trivial or a no-brainer that we love kids, but we have to make it known and say it all the time. When I hear educators talk about loving students and loving what they do, I get excited and inspired to do my job better.

We fight with love. We brag on our students, to their faces, to their parents, to our adminstration. We brag on them and we love them. We fight with love, because it is the right thing to do. When we fight with love, we let those in leadership roles and elected officials know how incredibly important our mission is, why we do what we do. We fight with love because our students need us, we fight with love because we need each other. Together we are better.

I will fight with love. I will fight with love for my students, and do what is best for them daily. I will fight with love for my fellow teachers, because we need each other. We are professionals and it is time that we are treated as a such. I will fight with love, because the state of Oklahoma deserves better.

Don't ever stop talking about loving kids. We stop, we lose, but more importantly our kids lose. Share the unicorns and rainbows throughout the world!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What's Next?

I can't even begin to describe the thoughts that have swirling around in my head the past couple of days. Unless you have been living under a rock or you are just trying to avoid the bad news, it has been a rough couple of days for teachers in Oklahoma. We knew it was coming. We were prepared for it, as much as we could have been prepared for it. But I can tell you the shock of the revenue failure and 47 million dollar budget cut to PK-12 education news, I found myself without my unicorns and rainbows that others seem to love about me. I was mad, in fact I'm still mad. I'm completely to blame for this problem.

Before you say, "Oh no Meghan, don't blame yourself!" Well...I am. You see here is my confession, I never transferred over my voter registration from Arkansas to Oklahoma till recently. I didn't vote in the last election. Because I didn't vote, because I didn't show up and do my civic responsibly individuals that are making decisions that are hurting students and teachers are still in office. And again before you say..."Oh no Meghan, don't blame yourself!" Well as a teacher and as a citizen I had a responsibility to care for the well being of my students and I didn't do it. For that I feel guilty. While many of fellow Oklahoma Edu-Bloggers have shared their thoughts on the issues, I have remained silent because I simply felt too much anger and guilt. Anything that I would have written would have been a lie at best. I have no right to complain or be angry, because I did nothing. My apathy and laziness helped create the problem.

What I have to remember before I beat myself up too much, is it is time for me to move on. So I ask what's next? Where do I go from here? My first step, register to vote. Check. My second step, stop being silent. I have always loved the story of Esther and I came across this verse recently that really spoke to me, "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14 Now I'm not saying that this funding crisis in education is exactly like the issues in the Book of Esther, but there is truth in this verse. We as educators can't remain silent anymore. We have to speak up and reach out. We have to get our voices heard. If we don't share our story, if we don't speak up for our students, nothing will change. Another truth, this is our "for such a time as this." We are in a crazy time, but we are here for this very reason. We are here to love, support, encourage, stand up, and show up for our students. We are teachers in Oklahoma right now, we should not be ashamed of it, but we should embrace it and do what is best for our students. Our time is now to make change, meaningful and lasting change. We must embrace our space and embrace our time.

Another what's next for me is coming from an idea sparked by Mid-Del Public Schools Superintendent and education blogger, Dr. Rick Cobb, gave a challenge to #GiveItBack. You see I'm going to be getting about 30 dollars back in my wonderful little tax cut, those 30 dollars are going straight to my school, where I know that they will be used to benefit the students in my school. I urge you do the same. Take that money and donate it to your local school district.

So maybe the past couple of days I have had some pretty sad unicorns and rainbows lately. However, my unicorns and rainbows are happy and passionate once again. I'm going to do what is best for my students and I'm going to speak out and stand up. That is my what's next.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Reason for Despair. But Even Bigger Reasons for Hope

2015 is gone and 2016 is here!!!!!

Recently this article was published by The Atlantic entitled Can Schools Be Fixed?, all of this shows some inidividuals feelings of despair and feelings of hope. Fellow #oklaed blogger, Rob Miller, from View From the Edge issued a blogging challenging to all the #oklaed bloggers to create our own reason for despair and reason for hope. I might have broken the rules and included more than one reason for hope, because you know unicorns. Thank you Rob for this challenge, I'm looking forward to seeing what this year will hold for all of us!!

Reason for Despair

My reason for despair is a number. 49. That is currently where Oklahoma ranks in education spending per student and in teacher pay. That number has lead to a whole hosts of other issues. The biggest being the largest teacher shortage crisis that the state has ever faced. Why does this number bring me so much despair? Because of the sheer amount of people that are okay with this number, those that are okay with being ranked so close to dead last. It is not okay. It will never be okay. If you have been paying attention to the news recently you will hear and see stories surrounding the mid year budget failure, more money and more resources being cut from public education. The victims of this number 49. Every single one of us. Every single citizen of Oklahoma. How did this happen? How did we let this happen? What are we doing to fix it? What is our legislature doing to fix it? This number. This piece of information just makes me sad. 

Reasons for Hope

I wouldn't be the unicorns and rainbows blogger that I am if I didn't believe in hope. I have hope and lots of it! I still believe and firmly believe that education can change the world!

My first and biggest reason for hope is another number. 140. That is the number of students that walk into my classroom everyday. They are not data points on a chart, but they are some of the brightest young musicians on the face of the earth. They make me a better person. Each day I have the greatest privilege in the world of waking up and teaching them. More than that I get to teach how to sing. Singing and making music is how I cope with this messed up world. I get to do this. I get to share what I love with middle school students. I tell my students everyday, that they have a song to sing, and it is my job to help make their song better. The world deserves to hear their song. No matter what, I'm impacting their lives. When I look at my students I see hope. I see a group of young teenagers poised to change the world. I firmly believe that when we teach students to see the beauty in the world and ultimately how they can make the world beautiful. We win. Everyone wins. 

My second reason for hope, I work with some of the most amazing educators on the planet. The team of teachers, administration, counselors, and support staff assembled at my school work day in and day out to do what is best for kids. I am constantly amazed by the things that go on in the classrooms of my co-workers. When I hear students say they love their teachers and they love their school, it gives me hope. Some of my closest and most meaningful friendships I have right now in my life are my colleagues. Their love and care over my life is overwhelmly beautiful. They give me hope. I work with the most caring, compassionate, loving, bold, generous, and out of the box thinkers out there. 

My third reason for hope. Educators in Oklahoma. Over the past four to five years I have been blown away by caliber of teachers that I have met in this state. Each Sunday night I am challenged through the #oklaed Twitter chats, I am encouraged by these educators, and I am deeply grateful for their love and devotion to the students that they serve. They are brave, They are bold, They fight every single day to make things better for their students and for teachers across the state. As a music educator, I am a part of two organizations that have connected me with other music educators. We do not get to see each other all the time, but when we do we are able to share, grow, and make each other better. We are in this together. 

My fourth reason for hope. Donuts. That's all. 

There are uphill battles ahead. They will be hard. They will stretch us. I will admit that there are reasons for us to have despair. There are reasons for us to be concerned, worried, outraged, and even a little scared. But...there is hope. There is always hope. There are always unicorns and rainbows. If you are involved in education, share your story. Tell the world. You have a song of hope to sing, and the world deserves to hear it.