Sunday, February 21, 2016

I'm Not Okay

Things that I'm currently not okay with.......

1. The fact that I live in Oklahoma House District 98 and Oklahoma Senate District 33.

2. ESAs......oh wait I mean vouchers.

3. Holy crap the OCPA....ooops sorry for my foul mouthed ways.

4. Netflix removing Doctor Who.

5. The fact that I can't get wine ice cream in Oklahoma.

For the Love....these things are making me lose sleep at night, okay maybe not 4 and 5. Well...only every now and then.

I know what you are thinking, but Meghan where are your fun loving and happy unicorns. Right now they aren't so much happy unicorns as they are angry ones poking people with their glittery magic horns.

Let's start with number one....I live in Oklahoma House District 98 and Oklahoma Senate District 33. Currently both of these offices are held by two men that aren't exactly the best of friends to public education. I email these two almost weekly, and the majority of the time they don't respond. But when they do it is golden. After they rip apart about every part in my email they sign off with something like "Thanks for all you do...." or my personal favorite "Keep your head up, you do good things." Excuse me as I vomit.

My state Representative serves on the House Common Education committee, he is the one that introduce the bill to give us teacher pay raises that actually messed with our health insurance plans. Annnnndddddd with so many citizens speaking out against the bill he voted to send the lovely ESA bill out of committee. I'm over it. Both Representative Rogers and Senator Dahm are up for re-election this year, clearly things need to change. I'm not okay with them.

Number Two....ESAs...I'm not okay with this one at all. With overwhelming public support against this legislation, I honestly thought that I was going to die in committee, at least my unicorn and rainbow ways thought it would. But it was voted out of committee and sent to the main floor for the entire house to vote on. In order to get this bill out of committee they had to bring in the House leadership to break the committee tie vote, both of these leaders are term limited and won't be running again...frustration.

I have two major issues with these Educational Savings Accounts...I'm sorry I did it again they are vouchers. Issue number one: We should never use public dollars, tax payers public dollars to fund educational endeavors in private schools. We should be using that money to make our public schools the best in the nation. Our students deserve it, we as teachers deserve it, and our state deserves it.

Issue number two: money used from these ESAs go to private schools with no accountability. As a public school teacher I am held to high standards, as I should be considering the important work that I do, you know educating the future. With that comes accountability. I have no problem with accountability, we need it. However I am going to have to go through a Teacher Leader Effectiveness evaluation, my school has to go through the flawed A-F school evaluation model, and my students have to take the huge amount of High Stakes Testing that is given to them. It only makes since that private schools that are receiving public funding need to have the same accountability. Teachers in this state are already feeling beat up and devalued and this just makes it worse. I'm not okay with this.

3. Oh the OCPA, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs...what can be said about this lovely little group. Nothing good. I'm just going to leave it at that. I'm not okay with them.

4 and 5. I'm just going to have to realize that some people just want to watch the world burn.

Fear not my friends, now that I have got all of that crazy off my chest, I will go back to the For the Love, happy unicorns and rainbows that you have all come to love or at least tolerate. Love your students and colleagues well this week, I challenge you to seek out one student that needs a little extra love and attention this week and try to make their week a little brighter! Now...I'm going to eat a donut and binge watch Gilmore Girls.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Thank You Harper Lee

I was a seventh grader when I first read the book To Kill A Mockingbird. Those words. This writing, changed my life. I have read and re-read this book too many to count. It is a part of me, it is who I am, the words are etched in my soul and heart.

As I sat at my desk for a brief moment today, fighting back tears has I heard the news about the loss of the book’s author Harper Lee. Thousands upon thousands of lives she touched and I wonder if she ever realized that her book would reach so many.

This story, this lesson of love, friendship, tolerance, and justice still ring true today. I think that we as educators see these lessons play out every day. As I think about quotes from this amazing book: we need them, we need to live them out daily. Things are hard. We are living in times that are full intolerance and injustice, not much has changed since those words were penned by Ms. Lee all those years ago.

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

I know that we as educators try to get our students to understand this idea...but do we really live it out? Do I put myself in my students place? My colleagues? My students’ parents? My legislature(ouch)? How do we understand people? How do we really get to know each other?

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know that you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.

Courage. I teach middle school and conflict resolution for them often results in fighting and drama. I want my students to know that real courage is not using fighting words, physical violence, and going onto social media and bashing one another. Courage is when your back is against wall and you keep going. You keep fighting. You don’t stop. You see it through no matter what. Educators our backs are against wall. We are fighting uphill battles every single day, we keep going. We email and call those legislatures. We fight for schools in Oklahoma, we fight for our students, and we fight for each other. We see it through no matter what.

Things are never as bad as they seem.

This is the quote that I always have the hardest time with, sometimes things are hard and they are bad. But…...I get to teach kids how to sing. How to find beauty in the world. This is what I have wanted since I came from school on the first day of kindergarten and put my stuff animals on my bed and played teacher. When things just seem hopeless, when I feel beaten, defeated, undervalued, and unimportant...Things are never as bad as they seem. Oh teachers, things are never as bad as they seem. We are doing such good. Such important good.

Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's garden, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.

I would be a bad music teacher if I didn't include this one. Music is beauty. Music is life.

Now...I’m going to go read To Kill A Mockingbird for the the millionth time. Thank you for making the world a better place Harper Lee.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What Is Your Song?

Today I wrapped up a unit on musical theater with my Fine Arts class today. Today they shared with me their favorites songs and moments from their favorite musicals. One girl shared "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz. 

This is just one of my favorite songs ever, I remember the first time I heard, I was only five but I remember in that moment I thought that singing would be really cool and I wanted to do that too. It became my song.

I think so much of my life is defined my certain songs during certain periods of my life. More than anything I want my students to discover a song that defines their lives or at least moments in their lives.

I felt like today that rediscovered Somewhere Over the Rainbow for the first time. That is what I love most about music. How healing, how powerful, how magical it can be. Sometimes it is hard for me to wrap around my head that this is what I get to do everyday, showing middle school kids that they can find "their song" their Somewhere Over the Rainbow. But I get to do this. Holy Smokes. I get to do this.  When kids find their song, they find their voice. They find how to use their voice in a dark world to make the biggest difference.

Educators, what is "your song?" What is "our song?" We are in a unique moment in the history of education in our state. What song is defining this moment? What song is keeping you going? What song gives you your voice?

"If happy little bluebirds fly, beyond the rainbow. Why can't I?" 

Why can't I make a difference? Why not me? Whatever is beyond the rainbow, the longing of this heart is just to change the world. One middle school singer at a time.

Monday, February 8, 2016

An Open Letter to the Oklahoma State Legislature

My name is Meghan. I am a teacher. I am a middle school choir teacher. Each day I have the chance to impact the lives of children when they are in the most dramatic moments of their lives. I love my job. I love what I get to do. It is because of my love: love for my students, my fellow teachers, this profession, and for this state I must speak up. 

When I look into the eyes of my students I see hope. I see future performers, artists, teachers, doctors, and lawyers. They deserve the best education in the world. Each day my colleagues and I fight do just that, provide the best education in world. We do this because we love this, and all we ask, is for you to show us the same dedication. 

We deserve better. Our students deserve better and our state deserves better. Being 49th in the nation on per student spending, it isn't okay. We deserve better.

We have been told that sacrifices must be made, but why must these sacrifices be made at the price of children? My question to you is have you been to the classrooms of the teachers in your districts? Have you spent time in the schools that make up your districts? You will see that what we do is so valuable. Oklahoma has some of the finest educators I know, we should be funding education to reflect this very fact. You will see that sacrifices should not be made at the expense of our children.

We deserve better. 

ESAs are not the answer. You want the best schools in America. Fund them. Pour in your resources. Draw teachers into this state. Make Oklahoma the place that teachers want to come to teach. Please don't take money from public education and funnel it into private education. 

I am not a native Oklahoman. I am from Arkansas, but I have fallen in love with this state and with it's people. More importantly,  I believe in teachers and students in this state. 

I believe in hope. I believe in love. I believe in the future. So please when you are voting this session, remember the countless children, parents, teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, counselors, secretaries, cooks, custodians, bus drivers, maintenance workers, and the like. Remember us. We aren't asking for the world, but we are asking for respect, for dignity, for the ability to do above and beyond what is best for our students. 


Meghan Loyd 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Game On

I will be the first to admit it. I love television. I am Kenneth from 30 Rock. One of my favorite TV shows of all time is The West Wing. I was surprised that I ended up liking this show as much as a did, and I will always and firmly believe that Jed Bartlet is the best President America has ever had.

One of my favorite episodes of The West Wing, came from it's fourth season. President Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, was in full swing for his reelection to the presidency. The West Wing team was in full debate mode and prepping for the final debate. The phrase they used "Game On." All the team wanted was a "game on" moment, one moment when they knew the President would put his opponent, Florida Governor Richie, played by James Brolin, in the ground and cement the President in the minds of Americans as the best man for the job. The game on moment was on of the best moments of television. When Bradley Whitford's character Josh Lyman (whom I still hold on to as the greatest and cutest White House Staffer ever), proclaimed Game On, I jump off my couch every time.  Oh and Rob Lowe's Sam Seaborne, "Strike him, throw him, anyone wanna spin?' We can talk about the First Lady cutting his tie seconds before he went on stage later!

So why am I writing about this? Because teachers, this is our Game On moment. This is our time to declare Game On to those at our State Capitol that are making the decisions that are terrible for our students and for our state. We will not be silent. We will send emails, we will share our stories, we will invite you to our classrooms, and we will show you what we do is important. We will fight for our students and for our classrooms. We will not be silent and will ask questions. We will fight against ESAs, will fight to make sure that one of the most successful Pre-K programs will stay funded, will fight to see that all school districts and all students get the funding that they deserve. As a choral music educator, I can tell you that I would love to have an accompanist that doesn't have to be paid out of activity funds (funds raised by students) and that I could purchase music from living composers and those composers get the credit they deserve. More importantly I don't want to have to pass on huge costs of running my program to my students and their families. I want the best for my students, and my Game On is strong.

Teachers, together we are better. Let's do this thing. No strikes. Game On!

5 4 3 2 1

I love a good blogging challenge! Thanks for getting me writing again, it has been awhile!!

What has been your ONE biggest struggle during this school year?

1. This school year I have struggled with taking care of me. I love my job, I love my students, and I love my fellow teachers. I spend so much time caring for others and pouring into others that I forget to care for myself. I know the importance of taking care of me, but I feel guilty when I take that time to focus on me. 

Share TWO accomplishments that you are proud of from this school year.

1. After 5 years of teaching and trying and crying....I finally had students make the OCDA All State Mixed Choir! I finally found a system of teaching and working that will ensure student success at that competitive level.

2. The other accomplishment I'm proud of is how I have developed a sense of community with my students within my choral program and classroom. I love seeing the friendships that have developed among my students, including seeing students love and mentor those that just need a little extra help. 

What are THREE things you wish to accomplish before the end of the school year?

1. Survive contest season, and continue to thrive and impact lives! February is hard for middle choir teachers. 

2. Be a better mentor. I want to reach out to other teachers and find ways to help them help their students. I want to help every teacher find the resources needed to reach their students!

3. Move this blog over to stand alone website. This is a "what if it fails" in my mind. This blog has been my one of my greatest joys. I want to develop this into a site that teachers, especially music teachers, can find resources and inspiration for their classrooms. And just think of all the unicorns and rainbows I can share!!

Give FOUR reasons why you remain in education in today's rough culture.

1. Because every child deserves access to quality music education. Every child deserves to know the beauty and wonder of music. Every child deserves to know how music can change their world.

2. Because every child needs to know that they have a champion. Because they need to know that some one loves them, even if I might be the only person that tells them.

3. I love singing and I love showing kiddos how to do it.

4. Where else do I get paid (not enough, but whatevs) to jump up and down, sing songs, and play games with some of the coolest kids on the earth.

Which FIVE people do you hope will the take the challenge of answering these questions.

1. Ashley Bowser-My assistant principal rock star super hero. I would just love to hear his thoughts!!

2. Jen Williams-Because she has dark and twisty unicorns and rainbows.

3. Kas Nelson-Because she is just so much fun!!

4. Peter Anderson-Because this guy is super legit. 

5. Megan Morgan-We have similar names and similar souls.