Thursday, February 21, 2013

Blessings of being a Catholic School Teacher

Long time, no talk/blog.... Sorry for my month long hiatus, life has just been wonderfully busy. One of the main reasons that I have neglected this blog is because God has blessed me with a wonderful roommate to share life with! So, a lot of my reflections have gone to her instead of this blog.... oops ;) 

Over the last month I have really learned what an amazing gift God has given me, which is the blessing of teaching at a Catholic school. My boyfriend Matthew is great at constantly reminding me of this!!! 

I just wanted to list a few reasons why I love teaching at a Catholic school

- Catholic schools week! This Catholic schools week I had a very very special experience of bringing 8 of my students to a Band workshop led by Mr. Hanman who was my professor at BC! It was just so special and, as my principal noticed, my smile as I played along in the back was just huge! When I was his student I learned so much about music, but even more importantly he constantly inspires me to challenge myself and always grow as a teacher. 
- Catholic Schools Week also including some of these fun activites:
        - Praying a Living Rosary with the entire schoool
        - Participating in a "Rock" concert with a Catholic Praise and Worship band
- Praying EVERY class! (I pray a short spontaneous prayer before every class and then end with the students joining me in a Hail Mary or Glory Be usually. For the Preschoolers we say a call and answer type prayer, aka they repeat my words, "Thank you Jesus for this beautiful day!" (It is just the sweetest thing to hear 4 years olds say. Especially when they add that they LOVE Jesus. Childlike faith- we are all called to this simple love and trust. 
- The opportunity toe share my faith and my relationship with Jesus on a daily basis.
- When teaching about the Medieval period, I can play a Mass for them and then talk about how composers used the various parts of the Mass (Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, etc...) for the words for their compositions!! 
- Celebrating Mass weekly with my students, especially when I had my Choir (about 20 5th-8th grade girls) sing "Unashamed" for the distribution of ashes on Ash Wed. Unashamed- Starfield
- The freedom to be able to say to students who are struggling, I am praying for you. 
- Using mass songs and praise and worship songs to teach rhythm, performing techniques, and many other aspects of music! 
- My choir is singing "Hold Me" by Jamie Grace and they LOVE it! Hold Me- Jamie Grace
- More and more God is telling me that my MAIN job is not to teach the students every nitty gritty aspect of music, but to simply teach students Music because it is His gift to us, His way of allowing us to share in the beauty of His creation. Whenever I think of teaching in this way, I have so much more peace, and all the worry about "not being organized and planned enough" just melt away! 

So to summarize- God is good, very good. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Back in the swing of things. :)

So, after the craziness of Program preparation and practicing and practicing and practicing and practicing... you get the picture, it almost feels like a break to get back to normal. Now my job is back to teaching kids to love and appreciate music by showing them how much I love and appreciate music! :) (Not too bad of a job, I have to say). I mean, what person can say that they get paid to walk around a classroom with kids acting like a train, sing a song about random animals where a hippopotamus says "bookadoo", sing directions, dance around to Irish music, etc... :) Constantly I have to remind myself how much joy that I can give and receive at my job. It is only when I get overwhelmed with the nitty gritty details and discipline that I lose my joy. The days when I live in the moment, have lessons planned, and then give the rest to God are usually just amazing days, when I leave work fulfilled and filled with joy.

I am also excited because I have come up with plans for "Units" for the rest of the year to help this incredibly unorganized woman begin to organize her lessons and classroom :)  (since I do not have a curriculum, which is good and bad at the same time)

Here are my ideas (if you know of any activities, songs, stories that go along with any of these, PLEASE share!! :)  or if you have any ideas to expand upon each unit, I am open for ideasm very open!

K- Fun Folk Songs 
1st Animal Themes
I Bought Me a Cat
2 Multicultural Unit 
    • Spain
      • Start with Spanish song (Aqui) 
      • Talk about the various instruments and way of singing
    • Germany
      • Teach them Alle Meine Entchen 
    • Ireland 
      • Lesson on a Simple Irish Folk song melody 
      • Teach them a little Irish Dance 
- African 
3rd Grade-- 
Theory (have them do a little quiz to see where they are before we have recorders) 
Beginning Recorders -- basic, GAB, with many songs on these 3 notes 
4th Grade-- RECORDERS 
Playing for belts, learning notes, rhythms, dictating rhythms… 
5th Grade-- Music History    ( The very nerdy side of me is super excited about this! - I absolutely LOVE Music HIstory!!:) 
Jan- Before Medieval
- Greek Theater Lessons :) 
- Chant (cont. the lesson plans I was doing for Chant) 
Feb- Medieval
March- Baroque
April- Classical
May- Romantic 
Jan- Piano unit 
Playing the Paper keyboards and learning a little about scales and chords in the process

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Success! :)

My inaugural Christmas Program finally happened on Thursday January 3rd, the 10th Day of Christmas! :) 

You see, the sky decided to open up and blanket KC with all that white stuff for one day only, yup you guessed it, the day of my program. I had never been so bummed to see the magical flurries and I definitely felt like an adult when I was devastated to have a Snow Day. I thought to myself, "Wow, I sound old!" Anyways, because of the Snow Day my program was moved to after Christmas Break. 

Now all this sounds very sad and depressing but I forgot to mention how amazing that day ended up turning out. Basically all I can say it that I am very very blessed. My boyfriend, Matthew, was planning on surprising me for the program but even though it was canceled and there was snow persistently making its presence known, he came down anyways and we had a very special visit! (Yup I am definitely blessed!!!) 

So, God just likes to work in mysterious ways, that is for sure. 

Anyways, the Program finally occurred this past Thursday and I am incredibly blessed to say that it was a SUCCESS! A large majority of my students enjoyed it and many many parents overwhelmed me with their praise and congratulations. It was definitely a night I will never forget! Even the priest at our school's parish came up to me and said, "This was a good program... actually this was a VERY good program!" It was so funny though because at the start of the program I had to check myself and remind myself that it was not a practice. I had the blessing of running through it many times to fix many kinks and so I was quite used to seeing the whole thing performed. 

So, a post about an Elementary Christmas Program is not complete without all the funny instances (that were all caught on tape) and memorable moments. The fact that this Program went so well is in large part because of the Power of Prayer and God's grace because all the facts added up to much less success. Since the Program was moved to after the break I had: many kids gone on vacation, kids who were sick at home (my Joseph being one...), a few kids who moved from our school, a few kids who just didn't show up,  etc.... Right before the Program began I had 2 of my Wise Men (3rd grade boys) come up to me and share with me that "Michael (the other wise man) was sick, but we think Ryan can be the third because his costume looks most like a king." I just loved how they figured out the problem by themselves. Let's see, I had a 1st grade girl "rock out" to Away in a Manger (I think she had her own version playing in her head...), one of the preschoolers lifted up his shirt and was rubbing his belly, the preschoolers decided to clap for themselves, one of my narrators for the Nativity play had decided that he was also a shepherd proceeded to leave the Nativity scene and cross the entire stage to go say his line "And Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart" (and this crossing of the stage was definitely not planned...), my little 1st grade boy who soloed "Away in Manger" did an amazing job and melted many hearts, and the finale successfully startled the audience because I had the entire school stand up and sing the 2nd verse of Joy to the World after the Kindergarteners sang the first verse on the stage. 

Whew... that was a mouthful, but I decided that since I have not written for awhile that I would update you all. :) 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Humility's role in the success of the Christmas Program!!

I know I have spoke about this a few times, but I am now blessed to see the fruits of working on being humble and simply asking for help. Today we did our first walk-thru of my program and with the help of my wonderful principal and my fellow teachers, I am finally seeing it come together. For some reason I decided to create a program with MANY moving parts but all the teachers are just willing to help me with whatever I need, including more time to practice and staying during rehearsals to control the groups :) I have been asking for A LOT more input and I am so much more relaxed and at peace, instead of just trying to do everything alone. God is good because He is here for me and is helping me tremendously through all of my supportive staff and colleagues!!

On a more silly note: I had a BLAST with the microphone today! It was so fun to have it in my hand as I directed everyone around. Another thing that I have come to realize is that I actually enjoy directing people (who knew!) Once I had an idea of where I wanted people and when, I have truly enjoyed working through my Nativity play, teaching students to cheat out so we can see their expressions and working on how we walk on and off the risers, etc... :)

So, as you can see I am starting to see everything come together, probably because I have finally realized that I CANNOT do this alone!! Nope, not possible... and yet I was trying to... silly me :)

Here is the completed program in case you were interested :) (they will be printed on red and green paper to be festive!!! :) (I had a lot of fun creating this!! :)

Thank you for all the prayers and support!! <3

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Prayers work :)

So, another first occurred today.....I was almost in a car accident! But, I was praying my rosary so I am sure that Mary saved me this morning! I was in the left lane and a very unaware child-of-God (though I was thinking other things in my head...) decided to move over two lanes without looking at his/her blind spot. Well, I was definitely in his/her blind spot and he ran me right off the road!!! So, yeah, my heart was beating quite fast, I almost burst into tears, but held my composure so that I could drive the rest of the way to work. The Rosary helped me maintain my composure and gave me so much peace. The person behind me graciously slowed down to allow me to return to the road. The first thing I did back on the road was thank Mary. I am convinced that she saved me today!! I am praying the Rosary everyday on my way to work from now on!

Prayers indeed do work!

Thank you Mary! <3

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Stand still! (My new favorite phrase...)

So, as people have continually been reminding me (as necessary of course).... all the parents will love the Christmas Program no matter what, because kids are cute. I do know this, but at the same time, a Program involving the entire school community is just a little overwhelming. We have now began occasional practices in the gym which is whole new ballgame. It is just amazing how many different things kids can do besides stand still and listen to their teacher and sing pretty.... :) Of course, at the same time I need to remind myself that I was one of those fidgety kids. One of my parents' favorite stories to tell about me as a little kid happened during one of my First Communion practices. The Sister who was helping us prepare to receive our Lord had repeatedly told me and another little boy that we needed to stop fidgeting. She turns to look back at us and, as she recounted to my parents later, our faces were moving in all sorts of contortions. :) So, yeah, I was definitely one of the kids who had to constantly be reminded to "sit still!". :) :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The simplest things :)

So today I was just not having a good day, frustrated with my classes and their lack of participation. I finished off my day with my 5th graders and they seriously brightened and changed my entire day!!! They are singing O Little Town of Bethlehem for the Concert and they are able to sing the harmony! Even greater than that was the fact that I was actually able to teach them and I did not spend the entirety of the class saying "be quiet" as I do with a few classes... It is amazing how one very successful can just make your day, especially when I could tell that they were enjoying singing as well.

As a first year, my first program ever is weighing heavily on me, but I am constantly working on giving it to God! Every time I remember that He is in charge, not me, I experience peace and just simply a strong feeling that I can do it! It is a daunting task to organize an entire school in a Christmas program, but slowly it is appearing to be doable and accessible to me.

Here is the lineup for my program if anyone would like to know, it is December 20th at 7pm if you are living around the Kansas City area and would like to come. :)

Holy Rosary Wea presents…
Sing and Celebrate the 
Christmas Story


The Friendly Beasts
I want to be an elf

5th Band
Mozart Melody
Jingle Bells

6-8th grade Band
Rockin Around the Christmas Tree

7th and 8th graders
The Christmas Song

Ding Dong

Sing We Now the Christmas Story
Angels We Have Heard on High 


O Little Town of Bethlehem

Away in a Manger

The First Noel

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Silent Night
Joy to the World