Today’s prompt is to chose three favorite songs. I chose those that I find most compelling to me today. They surprised me a little. Here goes. The first one?
“Harden My Heart,“ by Quarterflash. This year has been a hard one. I waited for the kids to come around, for them to learn to be respectful of each other, me, the classroom, and themselves. It never happened, and as this year winds down I’m facing another year beginning in August, with the same kids. This time I won’t wait. I will have my consequences organized and prioritized and I will apply them liberally. They will either figure things out or be sent elsewhere. It breaks my heart to see the kids who want to learn held hostage by those who don’t want to or who apparently can’t learn at this time, and I will not let it happen again. I will have to harden my heart if I am to give every child a chance at a good rigorous year in my classroom. This summer I will find an image of a sacred heart wrapped in barbed wire to hang on the back wall of my classroom, as a reminder that in order to save the kids I have to set firm limits.
Next, is” Hallelujah,” by Leonard Cohen. I know, it’s almost iconic, everyone sings it for a big splash. It’s that kind of song, and it’s more than that, for me anyway. I read that it took Leonard Cohen years to write it, and he wrote many verses for it, far more than any of us ever heard sung. When I heard k.d. lang sing it at Laxson auditorium, it reached into the deepest recesses of my heart and filled me with something big. It was a moment I won’t forget, when everyone in the auditorium was lifted to their feet by this song. Whenever I’m feeling down I play it and sing along, loudly, and it lifts me. (Usually alone in the car, but not always!) On my playlist I have about seven different versions of it, and sometimes I play them all, one after the other, just to feel those glorious Hallelujahs spill from me.
My last song for today is “The Hedgehog’s Song,” by the Incredible String Band. I’ve always thought this little fantasy song was so good for keeping things real. They say, “Well, you learned all the words and you sang all the notes, but you never quite learned the song she sang. I can tell by the sadness in your eyes that you never quite learned the song.” These lyrics have long reminded me to look for the heart of the thing, not just the words. I don’t know if that makes sense, really, but to me it does.
This song finding is such an interesting exercise because when I start thinking of songs, they come spilling into my mind, faster than I can even think of them. Each day would provide three different favorite songs I think. Today they seem to be about the heartbreak of teaching sometimes, and the need to refill and refresh if one is to go on. Tomorrow, maybe they’ll be jubilant, who knows?