Monday, May 23, 2016

A Year in Review

It is a Monday morning at 11:30, I'm still in my pajamas and bathrobe. I only have 250 steps on my FitBit, and I had cake for breakfast. It must be summer.

This school year has brought laughter, tears, joy, heartbreak, success, and failure not only in my classroom but for teachers across the state of Oklahoma.

I started this school year by changing my focus. The Vocal Music world can be cut throat. We are pulled in nine million different directions, we are tasked with the responsibility to prepare students for contests, concerts, and musicals that we many times find that to be our only focus. Over the the past two years I found myself in a dangerous trap of it being about me. It isn't about me. It was never about me and it never should have been about me. It should always be about my students and their successes not my recognition. This year I made the intentional choice to focus on building community in my classroom. We didn't sing a note written on a page of music that would have been used for a performance, audition, or contest for the first two weeks of school. Instead we spent that time getting to know each other, building a community of trust, and building friendships. Because I spent that time with my students it made the year so much smoother. During the school year I would try to have one day about every two weeks for at least thirty minutes of rehearsal going back to those community building activities. Some might question why would spend precious rehearsal time focusing on this, and my response why would you not? We are not only building musicians but we are building young adults that need skills to function in society. I don't regret it at all. This year I learned more about my students and I loved them.

This year wasn't without some failures as well. As any middle school choir teacher in Oklahoma will tell you that OSSAA District Contest Sight Reading was a beast. A raging, hairy, slobbery beast. I have always done well at Sight Reading Contest. My students start sight reading in September. They are fabulous sight readers, but this year there were changes. We were thrown for a loop and my students felt defeated. I felt defeated. However, we picked ourselves up and we made more music. We had some fun. We sang Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake. We found ourselves again, and we had fun making music.

For me I became more involved in the #oklaed community and meet some of the most passionate and amazing educators. We are passionate about students in Oklahoma and we are outraged by the decisions that our legislatures are making that are negatively affected our children. This year with our budget crisis students have lost programs, educators lost their jobs, and horrible decisions had to be made in order to keep schools open. All the while money is being wasted on trying to impeach the President and building a reflecting pool at the Capital. We didn't stand for it. We made our voices heard. This year dozens of pro-education candidates filed to run for office. People are more informed of what is happening because we refused to stay silent.

I'm proud of this school year. I'm proud of what I, my students, my school, and my fellow teachers in my district and across the state accomplished. I would say that I can't wait to see what the 2016-2017 and I really can't but for right now, I'm going to enjoy my summer!

Educators what are you proud of? What did you do this year that you loved? What did you do this year that you won't be doing next year? I would love to know!

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