Snow day and Second Semester Expectations.

I was just about to get the kids up for the day when I plugged in my phone and saw school was cancelled for snow.
Yesterday a kindergarten teacher dropped her kids off at my classroom and mentioned in passing that we ought to be singing Let it Snow.
“Why?” I asked. The weather was springy and beautiful.
“Because there’s a chance we could get some and I really need a day off,” she laughed.
I told her I’d pray about it.

And look! Turns out I needed a day off, too.

The Colorado kids have been working on a snow fort all day. Four inches of wet packing snow go a long way in raising their spirits. I hear whispers of wishes that they could go skiing. But sledding, building stuff, and après-snow-activities hot chocolate and reading makes for a great Thursday.

Those days of locating mittens, hats, boots, and putting a thousand layers on little screamers are blissfully in my past. Everyone can find their own warm stuff, and everyone can take it off. I remember having hot flashes (I was always pregnant or nursing a baby) while dealing with snotty-noses, kids pooping inside layers of snow bunting. Bending over a big belly, about to burn up from stress-induced heat of wailing children. They wanted out; they wanted back in; they were tired; they fell in too-deep snow. They got snow inside their boot; their socks were suddenly wet. One was halfway down the mountain, another was inside crying, looking for a mitten. One was hungry. No one was ever ready all at the same time to go out. And it was worse convincing Jubal he needed to come back inside. Every outdoor adventure ended in wailing and gnashing of teeth. Such was my experience with little boys in snow.

It was not fun and it was not funny. I was so glad to get off that dang mountain.

Maybe I should’ve held on longer and waited for these days when everyone can manage themselves a little. But I’m not sorry we are having a wonderful snow day in the Midwest today (with the perfect amount of energy-burning and resting—no pressure to spend thousands of dollars on season ski passes and gear).

I got most of my tulips and the narcissus in the ground this week. I put some ranunculus in a tray to sprout in my basement. Last year when I tried ranunculus, they rotted in the ground. I had never planted corms before and didn’t know what I was doing. I’ve had such great luck with bulbs and tubers since our climate is so season-driven, but when it comes to dried corms and roots, I am at the mercy of whatever Google research pops up.

It’s an experiment every season!

Second semester at school is, likewise, experimental. I came back with every intention to do bucket drumming with the oldest grades. After a couple days of this, I remember I’m an idiot to think drumming on anything is anything but a headache?!
I also had the brilliant idea of putting on a square dance with 2nd and 3rd graders for Valentine’s Day. It is on the schedule, so say prayers.

I want my days to be productive and at the same time feel like they are flying by, but the thing I’ve learned is the importance of allocating my energy in these efforts.

First of all, I only have an hour a day to plan all my activities (duly noted that I very well could spend hours after school worrying about all the ins and outs, and I choose not to because I have a very full life at home)—if I wanted to give each grade equal planning time, it would work out to be 7.5 minutes for each level. Our school schedule is such that sometimes I will have three days in a row of the very same class before I even see the other classes in the grade—this means I have to remember who has done what so I can repeat the same lessons with each class and no one lags behind or gets too far ahead.

I don’t think I set myself up to fail except for the fact that I had no framework or music education training at all whatsoever. I had to just jump in the cold, cold water and start swimming at some point. I have to, on occasion, teach myself various things, like how to finger notes on the recorder and the difference between Mozart and Beethoven, but these are small compared to time/energy management and dealing with hoards of expectant children.

It is entirely unfeasible (infeasible?) to pull out and put away instruments for each 30 or 40 minute period. I thought I was going to do a ton of ukulele work, but I can either tune ukes every morning or plan something reasonable and non-string-instrument-related for my 9 classes. (It takes a good 20 minutes for students to tune their own ukuleles, and they fall out of tune within several minutes of strumming.)

This is fine and I accept it; I just have learned I cannot let myself become stressed over my circumstances. Instead, I have to lower expectations and give myself space to do a reasonable amount of work instead of trying to entertain the masses like some circus clown.

An example: if 4th grade recorders sucks it out of you (and, boy, does it ever), then lay off the bucket drumming during the other periods, and vice-versa. Right now I’ve got my 4th graders doing a unit on bluegrass and more recent, local music history while I let the 5th and 6th graders do drumming.
Grades 2 and 3 square dance (lots of me yelling out instructions and explaining allemonde and do si do to very loud, bouncy, excited children) while the lower grades work on less energy-sucking activities, like memorizing songs and reading folk stories.

This is the only way I can manage as many classes as I have with the expectations that they will perform at some point during each semester.

Praying that every music teacher gets at least one good snow day this January!

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