Creativity & Songwriting to Express Student Stress: Mrs. Lowe's Second Grade Sings, "Don't Worry, Be Happy!"
When Ms. Gingerlily Lowe, second grade teacher at Nye Elementary in San Diego began teaching online this month, she contemplated how best to get students accustomed to being together separated by COVID-19 and projecting through tiny electronic rectangles on a computer screen. No hugs. No knuckle or elbow bumps, either. The strange distance created in the online classroom environment begged for some humanizing. Children felt lost and needed to be comforted. Their confusion over how to operate their tech, raise a hand, or even to know when to speak was a big problem. Just getting laptops and internet access was a problem for many families who had never had access to the web at home. This is the reality of living near the poverty line. Some very helpful things are just out of reach.
Then, with tech turned on, there were all sorts of things could go wrong (and did). Utter confusion about apps, logging in, lost passwords, incorrect browers, unclear directions, confusing district expectations, and the human stuff... interruptions from the family pet, babies crying, Harleys zooming by out the windows, tech malfunctioning, sirens, phones ringing and um, irrelevant and inappropriate spontaneous sharing.
For teachers, learning to herd kittens in a tornado would have been so much easier. Add to the chaos, attempting to Mute, Unmute and manage students in Break Out Rooms was just a crazy tall order. But hey, teachers are smart, resilient and they love to laugh!
Ms. Gingerlily drew upon her well-earned music leadership skills. She has been with GITC for three years, teaching through the power of song. The music began to make everything feel more "normal" and yet more special. There was a lot to sing about.
Choosing a favorite song to relieve stress, Bobby McFerrin's delightful "Don't Worry, Be Happy!" Ms. Gingerlily (as parents and children call her), invited students to compose their own verses about sheltering at home. What they had to share about their wide-ranging experiences was so eye-opening, we asked to share their verses with you, below. Thank you to the students and parents who agreed to help out!
Last month, realizing students needed a way to play along with their teachers and classmates at home, GITC started emergency uke distribution. Teachers and families came forward, masks in place and staying 6 feet away from each other, began to get their ukes from one of our front porch locations. Some wanted to help those families where parents were out of work so GITC started the Play & Pay It Forward fundraising campaign to make scholarship ukuleles possible for students in need. Those parents who felt they could help quietly donated to "pay a uke forward" for another student in need to receive one, too.
In this way, GITC began supporting everyone to bridge the gap from school to home so the musical learning could continue.
If you feel moved to contribute, we hope you will. A gift of $20 helps us provide a new Diamond Head ukulele to a student! We are so grateful to Saga Musical Instruments for their help with this project!
We want to share with you the understanding of what sheltering and learning at home has been like for these seven and eight year-olds so far. Here are some of their verses and illustrations to the tune of "Don't Worry, Be Happy!" with gratitude to Bobby McFerrin for shining such beautiful light in our lives with his music. You can recite or sing these to yourselves along with this backing track in the key of C.
Got a uke? Strum along! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km-nz82SOkQ