#OneSmallThing With LaVondia Menephee

by | 08.26.17

LaVondia Menephee is a school counselor in Houston, Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LaMenephee.

I recently got drawn into an old photograph of my mother, my sister and my six-year-old self on a roller coaster at an amusement park in Texas.

In the photo, we were heading up an incline, preparing for a dip, which was why my mother and sister were bracing with their eyes closed tight. I didn’t think I had anything to fear, so I was looking straight ahead with a peculiar amount of joy on my little face. Reflecting on that picture has brought me straight to you.

It’s August, and you’ve spent all summer chugging up the first hill of the roller coaster and getting ready for the school year ahead. You know there will be higher heights than you’ve ever imagined, but you can’t see the dips that will propel you up and over them. You’ve waited to meet your students and anticipated how your first few moments together will go. The coming weeks will have you holding on tight to the handlebar. There will be steady ups and thrilling downs, all of which will teach you something new.

Now that you’re strapped in, you might feel like you’re stuck on this coaster alone – but rest assured that your entire school community is on it with you. If we’re being honest here, the majority of the teaching community is, too. That’s why I want to share a little something with you.

When I was a student, we would show our love by making mixtapes. Exchanging a playlist that spoke to our heart (and, we hoped, someone else’s) was a surefire way to take a relationship from just classmates to real friends – the kind who really “get” each other. So to help you know you’re not alone, I’d like to share my School Year Playlist with you.

I curated the songs with you in mind, so each song should match how you’re feeling right now. Listen alone or with your students – or encourage your admin team to pump it up (do people still say that?) on Monday mornings. Listening to these songs is one small thing you can do to feel connected to a community that’s in the same place of excitement and fear and constant learning as you. It’s one small thing you can do to boost yourself over the peaks and enjoy the drops that might twist your stomach – but bring the biggest smile to your face anyway. (That’s how you know you’re hooked.)

I’d like to hang out with you a little more this year. We can check in here at Teacher2Teacher at different points of the roller coaster, and I’ll share more songs and what I’ve learned without giving you my fear. I absolutely want you to stay wide-eyed, just like I did in that photo. So keep your eyes open and your speakers turned up, and enjoy every moment of the ride ahead!

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