I am a teacher.

I am a teacher.

I hope I don’t get shot at school today.

I wonder how many students can hide behind the piano? It is the best barrier in my classroom from AK fire. More will fit if they are kindergartners… kindergartners are so small. I bet I could fit an entire kindergarten class behind the old upright piano. Fifth graders, however. Oh, fifth graders, you are so tall now. There are so many in your class. Which few will get the protection of the piano’s sounding board? What else do I have? A xylophone, a teacher desk, a drum.

“Review lockdown procedures with your students.”

Hide, children.

Hide. Be silent. Pray. Wonder why the adults have put you in this situation. I will protect you with my body, with a fire extinguisher, with… I don’t know what.

What if I had a gun?

I don’t want a gun. I don’t know how to shoot it. I don’t want to learn. I don’t want to know that there is a gun hidden in my desk drawer, next to my attendance book and my lesson plans. I don’t want to take a life.

I am a teacher.

I want to teach my students to sing, to dance, to play instruments.

I don’t want to take a life.

I don’t want to watch my students lose theirs.

I want my students to know that they are safe. Completely safe. I want my students to know that they are loved.

I am a teacher.

I hope we live to see tomorrow.

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that song from Frozen

Sisters,

I have my first-ever student teacher right now. It is my eighth year in Helena, my ninth year as a teacher, and apparently that makes me qualified to help someone else become a teacher. Terrifying, right?

I spent Christmas break making an epic student teacher binder. Seriously, it is a work of art. Custom cover, tabs, and LOTS of pages with cute fonts: standards, class schedules, classroom management pointers, and all sorts of details about how my schools operate.

This project masked the fact that I was feeling completely terrified at the prospect of sharing my classroom. I was dealing with major impostor syndrome.

Imagine my surprise when the first week with Mr. R revealed that I have, in fact, spent the last 8+ years carefully crafting a method of teaching that actually has a thought process behind it! As I explained my classroom routines and my curriculum, I discovered that there is actually a method to my madness and I have real thoughtful reasons for why I do things the way I do. You guys, I might actually know what I’m doing!

This week is Mr. R’s fifth week. In two and a half weeks, he moves on to his secondary placement. He has rapidly taken on more and more teaching responsibilities and is now teaching every class for the entire week. I spent last week hanging around in the back of the classroom while he taught, taking notes and observing. This week, however, I am tasked with getting out of the classroom and leaving him alone to teach.

Sisters, this is SO HARD for me.

What if my students are obnoxious? What if he can’t find a material he needs? What if, what if, what if?!

He’s fine. He’s more than fine, he’s doing so well.

That doesn’t make it easier to let go. I should be relishing this opportunity to get extra planning and prep done. I should be making manipulatives and planning epic lessons for the rest of the school year. I’m doing some of that. Mostly I’m wandering aimlessly, unsure of how to occupy my time without my students.

As I was lamenting my control freak nature to my amazing school secretary, she leaned back in her chair, swung out one arm, and started singing…

You know, that song from Frozen.

Letting it go,

Abby

I’m sure what you meant to say in that email critiquing my repertoire choices was thank you…

Dear sisters,

Today, my music teacher colleague and I ran six back-to-back rehearsals with about 50 kids in each group. We listened to fifth-grade narrators practice over recess. We inhaled our lunches to the sound of Feliz Navidad on xylophones. Then, we ran an all-school rehearsal for over 300 young musicians.

That’s crazy, right? Is this really what I signed up for?

Tomorrow, we’ll unload five bass xylophones over at the middle school auditorium, make sure the stage is set, and wait for the school buses to arrive carrying those 300+ musicians. They’ll pour out into the auditorium as it simultaneously fills with hundreds of parents, eager to catch a glimpse of their little snowflake, who’s all dolled up in their “Sunday-go-to-meeting” clothes.

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This colleague and I, we already did this once. Last week. Same story, different students. That’s crazy, too, right?

The other 170-odd days of the school year, I am alone in my little classroom on the prairie. The principal crosses my threshold once in a great while, and parents far less frequently. Teachers rarely have more than a minute to spend in my music room, because, as we all well know, those copies aren’t going to make themselves.

How do I reconcile these two sides of what I do? Nearly 200 days of music-making, unseen by outside eyes, just me and my students and my little classroom… and this one day of enormous production, preparation, stress. The learning really lives in the hidden days, but my reputation as a music teacher waits for me on that stage.

The show must go on,

Abby

Another Blog Post from a Teacher on Summer Break

Hey sisters,

So, we’re all teachers on summer break, to some extent at least, right?

R&R&R: Growing in intensity from June to August.

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I could write a post where I do the math, working out how many hours I work during the year and whether that balances out time off during the summer.

I could write a post about the fact that I don’t actually get paid during the summer, that the district withholds a portion of my salary and then returns it to me in the summer. I could explain that I got a lump repayment in June and won’t see a paycheck again until a month after school starts.

I could tell you that I’m still working this summer, that I’ve already taught at a two-week music camp and will soon be teaching at a two-week theatre camp, while also enrolled in two grad classes.

I’m not going to write that post. I mean, here’s one, if that’s what you’re looking for.

But instead, I’ll just say this. Do I get summers off?

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And you know, what? It’s pretty great. Today, I slept until 8:00 and then went out for coffee. I’m binge watching Law and Order.

And if you’re jealous, maybe you should be a teacher.

😎😎😎 #maybe #maybenot #letsjustsaytheydo

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Livin’ the dream,

Abby

 

Hot Cross Buns

Hey sisters,

Did you learn to play the recorder in elementary school?

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As an elementary music teacher, I am tasked with the job of preparing my students to be active participants in music for the rest of their lives. My goal (stolen from the amazing Dr. John Feierabend) is to make them tuneful, beatful, and artful. I am also responsible for preparing them to be successful in middle school music, whether they choose band, choir, or orchestra. Though it pains me to say so, there is one instrument that really drives all of these concepts home…

THE SOPRANO RECORDER.

It’s a brilliant educational tool- a historical woodwind instrument is affordable, durable, and able to reinforce articulation, rhythm and note reading, breath support, and practice habits.

But have you ever listened to 25 beginning recorder players? (Sara, I imagine you listen to significantly more new violinists, which must be a very similar experience.)

I think teaching the soprano recorder is like eating your vegetables or paying the bills… it’s not always enjoyable, but it’s important. I just hope my ears will forgive me.

One a penny, two a penny,

Abby