Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Poker Face

"You can't chose the cards you are dealt, but you can choose how you play them."

I put this quote up on my SmartBoard today as I shared some pretty upsetting news with my news with my students. Before I even told them that we were needing to cancel an upcoming performance and trip, I had them tell me what this quote meant in their own words. Here are just a few of their responses.

"Sometimes we can't choose what happens in our life, but we can chose how we react to it, both good and bad."

"We might not be able to control who comes into our lives and how they act, but we can choose our reactions towards them."

"Sometimes life can be hard and difficult, but how we react to situations determines our character."

"Life can suck. But we get up and make the most with what we have."

"You have to stay positive, even when it is really hard."

Out of the mouths of babes...

The Cards...

The cards we have been dealt with lately, well it is losing hand. Funds cut, non-sense legislation, talking heads that are not in our state but seem to be experts on our children and our education system, and the lack of respect for our profession as a whole. I went to college, I took the tests, and I paid all of the money, it is time that I'm treated as a professional for what I do, day in and day out. This is environment is hard and toxic. I don't do well in negative situations. I fall apart in negative environments. I will admit that lately I have allowed the cards that I have been dealt determine my attitude. My attitudes towards my faith, my family, my friends, my colleagues, my students, and my profession. I started to create more tension in an already toxic and hard environment. 

How To Play The Game...

This should not stop my passion for life. This poorly dealt hand does not determine who I am as an educator and as a person. Things are rough and hard but it all depends on what I do with circumstances that I have been dealt with. This does not stop me from doing amazing things in my classroom with my students. Despite the hand that we have all been dealt with in education, I'm inspired by educators that are going above and beyond the cards that they have been dealt and doing amazing things with their students. Yes sometimes life sucks, but we get up and make the most of it. We play the game to the best of our abilities. We create joy out of chaos. For the Love we just do the best that we can. 

For the Love...play your game and play it well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Take Another Little Piece of Heart

This is all I have ever wanted to do. Being a teacher is what makes sense for me. I cannot even picture myself doing anything else but teaching. Most little girls played house, but I played school.

The reality is simple. My heart is breaking because of the current state of public education in Oklahoma. My heart breaks not over the instruction or love of children that I see my colleagues give day in and day out. My heart breaks because of the elected officials that are making terrible decisions that affect students.

SB 1187...then amended again...then amended one more time, passed the Senate and is on the way to the House. If this does not scare you, it should. Eliminating background checks for educators, eliminating the minimum teacher pay scale, health insurance requirements....it takes away everything. If stripping away everything is what makes school districts feel empowered, I want to know what dictionary the Oklahoma legislature is getting their definition of empowerment from.

Here is the kicker...75% of students will show mastery on EOIs or entire buildings can face mass firings. So you take away everything and demand students to do more with less. It doesn't make sense.  Not to mention the fact that the legislator is dragging their feet on approving the new Oklahoma English Language Arts Standards and Math Standards. Standards that were written by Oklahoma educators, that know what is best for Oklahoma students. I have read these standards, they are great and will be great for kids. Why would we not approve these?

A little piece of my heart is taken away when such terrible decisions are made that negatively effect students. We can change this, you see we have been given this amazing thing called the right to vote. We should be aware and we should be educated on what is happening. Plus we should go out of our way to thank those elected officials that are fighting for public education in Oklahoma! Below are the links to Oklahoma House and Senate websites. Please contact your elected officials, let them know how you feel.

We have so much power. I know that I can make my broken little educator's heart whole again, even when I email or call my elected officials and I don't get a response, I know that I did the right thing. I fought for my students. That makes my heart whole.

Oh...here is some Janis Joplin

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Music in Our Schools

Happy Music in Our Schools Month!!!! Now I might be a little biased but I totally believe that music is the best subject in our schools. My life has been forever changed by having access to music education as a child. So much so that I have dedicated my life to providing music education to children.

We have heard the reasons for having music in our schools, many people like to point out that it raises test scores and kids in music programs have higher grades. While yes these are true and there is research to prove these things, music needs to be in our schools just because.

I'm beyond thankful for music in our schools for so many reasons, but here are just a few.

1. Music Classes Helped Me Choose My Profession-I have wanted to be teacher since my first day of kindergarten when I came home and organized my soft animals on my bed and taught them what I learned at school. However it wasn't until I was in middle school choir that I discovered that I wanted to teach middle school choir. It was in that class I discovered my passion and found my voice.

2. Music Classes Taught Me About Humanity-Music carries the full range of human emotions. Music makes me aware of what is happening around me. Music makes me believe that there is something better out there.

3. Music Classes Made Me A Better Me- I learned more than notes and rhythms on a page. I learned more than how to sing with good tone. I learned more than artistic expression. I learned how to be a better person. I learned about hard work and responsibility. I learned how to work with others. I learned how to take constructive feedback.

4. Music Classes Taught To Me To See Beauty In Everything-This world is dark. It is painful. But there is always music. Sometimes in the most painful moments of my life, music has been there. I have always been able to know that it would be there. In my music classes, I learned that my art not only changes myself, but it can change the world around me.

In the depths of this budge crisis and revenue failure here in my state of Oklahoma schools are having to make tough choices. My heart breaks when I see that those tough choices involve cutting Fine Arts programs. We need Fine Arts. We need music, not only just because of the reasons that I listed above but also because we need well rounded kids. I know that not every kid will love choir, band, strings, drama, art, or speech but I know that for the kids that do love them, they need these classes. They need these successes, and we need to offer them to all students.

So this month (and everyday really) thank the music teachers in your lives. So to my music teachers past and present, thank you. You are the greatest. Your influence is still so strong in my life.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Just Stop the Bleeding

Oh where oh where have my happy little unicorns gone?

When the news broke about the state of Oklahoma officials ordering $235 million dollar cut to state agencies after revenue failure number two, I might have had a brain aneurysm. An 18% cut overall to public education. Insert brain aneurysm here.

Can I just say, please stop the bleeding. Enough is enough. This has to stop. For the love, this needs to stop.

I am a product of public education. I truly believe in public education. I became a public educator, because I believe that public education will change the world. I believe in public schools. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am meant to be a public school educator. I love school. It is because of this love, my heart breaks and my brain has aneurysms when hear of more money being cut from public education. Because do you know who the victims are of budget cuts and revenue failures? Students. Children.

Oklahoma, I love you. I love the life I have built here. I love the friendships that I forged and the community that I have built with my students and my school. Now I'm asking for the same love.

If you love a child that is educated in public schools in Oklahoma, I beg of you to contact your elected officials and tell them enough is enough. It is time that the children of Oklahoma are put first. Being 49th in the country in teacher pay and per student spending is not okay, losing up $235 millions dollars in funding is not okay. We can make a difference. We can all make a difference. We have to stand up and ask that the bleeding stop. Our students deserve better, they are the future of this state and this country, and it is time that we make them a priority. The educators in Oklahoma are top notch. I truly believe that we can have the best schools in the country, but we need a legislator and a governor that is willing to make that commitment. Stand together Oklahoma, it is time to change the story. It is time to stop the bleeding.