Hi! I'm Jennifer Davis - a musician, teacher, and Jesus lover!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

#8 Allow students to prank you

This might have to be a two- or three-parter.  So many pranks.  The very first one though was my first year of teaching.  A movie had just come out named "Varisty Blues" in which there was a teacher named Miss Davis who moonlighted as a stripper.

As you can imagine there were many jokes to be made (my last name is Davis if you're confused at this point).  Add to that the fact that it was my first year of teaching and I was only about 4 years older than some of my students and pranks were inevitable. The biggest joke was a line from the movie when Billy Bob says: "Miss Davis will you go to the prom with me?"  So I heard that a lot.  

If I haven't mentioned it before, when I first moved to Mooreland I rented a house that was basically almost across the street from the music building.  And, once again, this is a small town...everybody knows everybody's business.  So one morning I got up to come to work walked out the front door and remembered I left my scores in the car.  I walk around the side of my house to the garage and open the door.  Guess what's shoe polished on my windshield: "Miss Davis will you go to the prom with me?"
Funny.  I did eventually make it to the prom...but not with a student, as a sponsor several years later.  The other prank that was pulled on me my first year was in one of my high school choir classes.  All the football boys in that class switched names with each other and I learned them wrong.  The girls were always giving me funny looks when I took roll and I just thought they didn't like me or something.  I'm mostly impressed with how long they kept up the charade...almost three full weeks.  I still get their names mixed up to this day!  lol

I guess the moral here is about perspective.  Sure, I could have looked at all the pranks as a bad thing, got upset about it, and acted cranky.  But that doesn't sound like much fun.  I was annoyed about the name thing, but looking back those pranks are fond memories of mine.  Those boys gave me such a hard time in class.  I remember talking to one of them after they graduated and he said, "we loved your class."  I was like, "What! but you guys were always giving me a hard time."  And he said, "yeah cause we like you."  Go figure - boys!  There's a saying, it's a bit contrite but very true:  "Life is 5% what happens to you and 95% how you react to it."

My choir kids 1st yr of teaching (junior high and high school) 1999-2000

Monday, June 2, 2014

#7 Join a student on a motorcycle ride around the school parking lot and surrounding neighborhood.

I love riding on motorcycles.  Although I've only driven a motorcycle myself twice. One time I drove into the creek, and another I busted my butt a million times dirt biking.  From these two experiences I've decided it's much safer for me to just ride on a motorcycle and let someone else do the driving. 

However, I don't know a lot of people who regularly drive motorcycles so I grab an opportunity to ride whenever one comes along.  Perhaps we can blame all this on my Grandpa and Uncle who both gave me rides to kindergarten on a motorcycle.  I had my
own little helmet,I strutted into the classroom, and proudly put my helmet in the coat closet like I was the coolest 5-year old ever! And thus began my love of riding fast with the wind in my face.

Several of the years I taught, I had a very small music appreciation class.  Usually two to five students at the most.  These were such fun to teach because we had time and flexibility to do all kinds of projects.  And I was able to tailor the curriculum to each individual student. Anyone from a small school system knows that in the spring semester it is rare to have an entire class present.  Between sports, academic and club competitions, and field trips there were days I only had one student present in my music appreciation class. 

This meant we usually got through all the material quicker and improvised at the end of class.  Often with a small class I took them outdoors or on a small "field trip" to somewhere in town.  (Students parents' all sign permission slips for ALL field trips at the beginning of the year, so that enabled me to have some flexibility...and remember it's a really small town so everyone knows everything that happens anyway).

It was one of those days and we had finished the lesson.  It was a beautiful day outside and my student said, "Guess what? I just got a new motorcycle...want to go look at it?"  The parking lot is right outside the music building door.  Well, looking at the new motorcycle quickly led to: "Want to go for a ride around the parking lot?"   Which, in turn, led to: "Let's take a ride around the neighborhood."  Great way to end class on a beautiful spring day.  Although it's probably out of line to ride around town during school with a student on their motorcycle, it sure was a fun!  And don't worry, of course we were wearing helmets. 

No real moral to this story.  But maybe an interesting thought for you to chew on.  One of the reasons I like to ride fast things is because it makes me feel alive.  
What makes you feel alive?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

#6 Take a two hour detour while trying to drive a student home from a football game.

Because of budget cuts, the band did not always play at every football away game.  One particular year, this was one of those games...and I enjoyed the rare luxury of going to a football game just as a fan without wrangling 30 or so 12 to 18 year-olds along with me.  Not that I didn't enjoy going to games with the band...many fun memories and many more stories to be told.  However, I drove there alone this time.

As I may have mentioned before, this is a small rural town and school district. 
Teachers tend to spend more time with their students outside of class just because we see each other at community events, church, etc...  Many of my former students became good friends of mine whom I still enjoy being in contact with today.  This story involves one of those students.  A lovely young lady whose family worshiped at the same church I did.  We had several interests in common and enjoyed a riotous good time when we hung out.

So at the end of the football game she decided to ride back to town with me, her parents said, "yeah that's cool."  Those of you who know the geography of western Oklahoma will shake your heads in shame as you read the rest of this story.  We were playing against Thomas, OK south of our home town Mooreland, OK.  All you have to do is turn north on 183 and head home. 

In my defense...it was a dark cloudy night...with no moon in sight.  So I basically
thought I turned north onto highway 183 but I was actually not on the highway yet.  And I'm sure it didn't help that she and I were probably yakking and I wasn't paying as much attention to direction as I should have been.  Pretty soon I realized we were lost, but I had no idea which direction was north...no highway signs...just itty-bitty towns.  So we were lost and driving down dark country roads with bare scraggly tree branches reaching out to us from the side of the road like sinister mocking fingers.  It was kind of hilarious and scary all at the same time and we got a horrible case of the giggles.

I can hear you now, "Why don't you just use your GPS?"  Well, because we had no cell phones, no GPS, and unfortunately no map either.  Because it was such a cloudy night we could see the lights of a larger city reflecting off the clouds in the distance.  Following the eerie glow we finally drove into Weatherford.  Now, normally it would only take about 20 minutes to get to Weatherford from Thomas, but not the circuitous route we took!  By the time we got to Weatherford, we should have almost been at the student's house...so we stopped at a gas station to call them.  Since I finally knew where I was I had no trouble driving the hour and half that it took to get from Weathford to Mooreland.

I will never live that trip down, ever.  Her dad gave me a map the next time he saw me and said, "That better be in your car at all times!"  And he's been sure to remind me from time to time...as has the rest of town.  :)  So the moral of this story - simple:  Going through life without a map can waste a lot of your time.  BUT, God is still with us even when we take wrong turns down scary roads.

"Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path."  Psalm 119:105

 "The Lord says, 'Do not fear, I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.  when you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3

Sunday, March 23, 2014

#5 Teach a student how to peel out in his car in the school parking lot

Well, it's been too long since my last post.  But, it's because I've been back in a band room teaching!  I've got a long-term sub position helping out with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade band.  It's funny...when you've grown up in band and then gone on to teach it.  You can walk into any band room in the world and instantly feel like you're at home.  :)  I'm having a blast team teaching with some amazing directors, one of which was my own high school band director. 

So, on to today's way to get fired.  Honestly, I have no idea how I ended up teaching a
student how to peel out in their car in the school parking lot.  I think it was the end of a
argument about the fact that you can't peel out with an automatic transmission as well as you can peel out in a standard transmission. Okay, so maybe I do remember.  :)  I was arguing for the standard car (cause that's what I had peeled out in before).  My student had a standard and was swearing up and down that it's easier in an automatic because he couldn't peel out in his car.  

Oh, as a side note, I'm pretty sure this was after school, not during school.  But it was definitely before they put up surveillance cameras in the parking lot!  :)  We went out to his car so I could show him how to peel out in a standard.  Which really isn't that hard (duh)?!  It eventually morphed into a contest of who could kick up more gravel and dust (did I mention it was a gravel parking lot).   I'm not sure who won, but we wasted a lot of gas, probably ruined our tires a bit, completely covered the onlookers in dirt, and had a blast.

I have no idea what spiritual lesson to get out of this, except maybe that it's okay to have a little fun with your students every now and then.  Although, I suggest you do something else besides pealing out in the parking lot.  "So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work.  That is why we are here! No one will bring us back from death to enjoy life after we die. So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work.  Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God." Ecclesiastes 3:22, 2:24

P.S.  As I was proof reading my entry, I noticed I began my sentences with the word "so" too often, and I deleted them.  Then I copied the bible verse...ha! Solomon did it too!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

#4 Play a part in almost injuring the star quarterback before the big game

This post will probably make some people think that I must have been an awful teacher.  All I can say is that I made some very unwise decisions as a new teacher.  Luckily, nothing too horrible happened.  To put this story in perspective you must know that I was wonderfully blessed with a gigantic music room (to give you an idea...about the size of four large classrooms put together with no walls in between).  It is half of an addition across the street from the main high school and is one of the biggest music rooms I've seen, especially for a 1A high school in Oklahoma.  We owe the spacious music room accommodations to efforts of Ralph Pantalone who, as the Mooreland band directer, built and sustained a premier music program for more than 30 years beginning in 1953.  During his time at Mooreland, the band qualified for state competition 30 out of 31 years, and won the Enid, Oklahoma Tri-State Music Festival Sweepstakes Trophy 15 times! 

During my high school choir classes, the end of the class time was usually reserved for work on solo's and ensembles.  Therefore, while working with small groups of students the rest of the class were free to work on homework, visit quietly, etc...  As I already mentioned our music room is gigantic.  On the day in question, the band chairs were all stacked up and put away so there was much more room than normal.  Several of the boys on the high school football team were in my choir class and asked if they could throw the football around outside.  I said no.  Then they asked if they could throw the football around in the open space on the band side of the room.  I said sure, just be careful.  Yeah...

I should mention that there was a large full-length mirror on the band side of the room, to help students get their uniforms on correctly.  I'm sure you can already guess what transpired.  At some point the innocent game of catch morphed closer into a tag football game, and all of the sudden the football boys had the whole room's attention when we all heard a loud shattering noise followed by "oohs, ahhs, and oh man!" Apparently, our quarterback ran headlong into the mirror while evading an opponent.  By the grace of God,
only the mirror was broken, and not the quarterback!  After making sure the boys were okay, I had them clean everything up and made a mental note: no more ball throwing in the music room.  We didn't bring this event to the attention of my superiors, although I'm sure the whole student body knew about it by the end of the day.  Since I officially don't work there anymore, I suppose it's safe to put this out here now! 

So what's the moral of this story?  Maybe just that the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and protection of God can cover even the most stupid decisions.  A student or students could have been seriously injured in my care because of a lame decision that I made.  That's quite a sobering thought. I was overwhelmed my first few years of teaching, like most new teachers.  One thing that helped me prepare for the day was to pray, not only for me to be a good teacher, but for my students.  I prayed for them to learn how to make music, to have fun doing it, and to be safe and know that God loves them.  I think the reason why a lot of my inexperienced decisions ended up not having worse consequences is because of those prayers - not because I'm so awesome and I prayed, but because God is so awesome and he always answers sincere prayers.

"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." 1 John 5:14-15

Monday, February 3, 2014

#3 Hit a deer with the school excursion on the way to an honor band concert

Guess what?  Another field trip.  This time we were headed to Alva, Oklahoma for an honor band concert.  I only had two or three students in this honor band so we took one of the school's excursions.  It was a cold January Saturday morning in Northwest Oklahoma. I was enjoying the scenic drive north, and the students were trying to wake up.  All was tranquil until... a deer ran onto the road.  I yelled something like "no, no, no," and some other choice words! A good-sized doe hit its head on the right side of the bumper and then its body slammed into the passenger side door.  Luckily, the excursion sits high enough off the ground, we were fine...but the passenger door had seen better days.

One of my students said, "Good job Miss Davis, that was a real clean hit!."  This was partly in jest, because his family had previously taught me how to shoot, taken me deer hunting a few times, but I still had never shot one!  I don't remember whether it was his idea or mine, but we called his Dad and asked him to come get the deer.  My student jumped out of the vehicle in his nice concert dress clothes and pulled the deer over to the side of the road.

We made it to the concert without further incident.  A few months later we all enjoyed some deer jerky from that doe during band class! Moral of the story?  If ife gives you lemons, make lemonade.  If life dents your excursion door with a nice doe, make deer jerky! In all seriousness though, one of the things I enjoyed most about teaching my students in Mooreland, Oklahoma was their ability to think creatively and outside the box!

"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  1 Timothy 4:5, 1 Corinthians 10:31

Thursday, January 23, 2014

#2 Lose the superintendent's daughter's sax on the way to an honor band audition

Once again I was taking my band on a field trip, this time to an honor band audition in Enid, Oklahoma.  We loaded up the bus, took roll, counted heads, and drove off into the sunrise.  We arrived at our destination, unpacked, and headed inside to warm-up.  All was well until a saxophone student came up to me and said, "I can't find my instrument."  Now, this student was very responsible, so I knew she hadn't forgotten it.  But I had to ask, "Are you sure you brought it?"  She responded, "yes of course I did," while she rolled her eyes at me, "I put it under the bus myself."  I asked her not to call her Dad yet (who happened to be the superintendent of my school district), we were going to search everywhere for it first.

Next stop, the bus.  We search in it, underneath it, around it, and all the while I had a sinking feeling that something very bad had happened.  I started to wonder who else was missing an instrument and just hadn't told me yet. Finally, I ask the bus driver, "did you check to make sure all the luggage doors were latched before we left?"  He answered, "I think I did.  Besides isn't it your job to make sure the equipment is secure?"  Ouch!  So my saxophone student called her Dad and I was lamenting the conversation I knew was coming.  Fortunately, the superintendent was more angry with the bus driver than me, because it turns out that it IS the driver's job to make sure all the luggage latches are secure before he drives off. However this story does have a happy ending.

First of all, my sax student told me, "I didn't really want to audition anyway," and she meant it, she looked relieved.  Second, an nice elderly couple were driving from Woodward to Enid and saw a saxophone case by the side of the road.  They stopped, picked it up, and saw the information tag with phone number and address.  The got back into their car, turned around, and drove back to Mooreland to turn it in to my students Dad.  Wow!  There are still good Samaritans who consider anyone to be their neighbor...even a lonely lost saxophone on the side of a road.  The couple said their children had been in band and they know how expensive instruments are.   They just did what they wished anyone else would have done for them. 

"Do to others what you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31 
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no other commandment greater than these."  Mark 12:30-31