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.