When I started student teaching, I put together a teacher playlist of songs that for one reason or another helped me with my new career. Some energized me, some calmed me down after a hard day, some reminded me to see the best in myself and my students, and some were just pretty and made me happy.
As I start my fifth year of teaching, my playlist has grown to about sixty songs. It includes songs from musical theatre and movie soundtracks, pop music, folk music and religious music Most have lyrics and are songs I can sing along with. I love to shut my classroom door or sit in my living room and sing until I feel better.
Here is a nine song sampling from my teacher playlist.
Songs that give me energy:
“Life’s a Happy Song” from The Muppets Movie
This song just makes me happy. It’s funny, it’s upbeat and well, it’s the Muppets. What more could you want? I listen to this one when I’m getting ready in the morning on days that I’m really tired to help me wake up and feel better about the day.
“Magic to Do” from the musical Pippin
As a drama teacher, this song reminds me that teachers create magic in the classroom. I get to teach an art form I love, that I find beauty and joy in. It’s a good reminder on hard days that I love the subject I teach.
“Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked
This song has been my anthem since my senior year of high school (as it is for many theatre nerds.) It’s gotten me through break-ups, hard jobs, difficult co-workers and rough teacher days. It’s a reminder that I can do whatever I believe in, that I can succeed in hard situations and that I don’t have to let anyone else have control over my life.
Songs that calm me down:
“One Voice” by the Wailin’ Jennies
The layering of voices in this song is very calming to me. It reminds me that life is a collaborative art. We work alone and we work together to make things happen.
“Here’s to Us” by Halestorm
Again the music of this song is calming to me. The lyrics are a good reminder that time passes and the things that matter stay while the things that don’t move past us. *Language warning: there is a “clean” version available as well.
“Let it Go” from the movie Frozen
I know, I know, a lot of us are so sick of this song we want to scream. Since I teach high school and don’t have little kids, I missed the inundation that others suffered. For me, this song is the opposite of “Defying Gravity,” which is appropriate since they are both sung by Idina Menzal. “Defying Gravity” is my call to action song that I sing when I’m going into something hard. “Let it Go” is my surrender song, when I acknowledge that I’ve done my best or something is out of my hands.
Songs that remind me to love myself and my students:
“You Will be Found” from the musical Dear Evan Hansen
This is a new addition to my playlist. It’s a good reminder that the most important part of my job, to me, is to make sure that my students all feel seen, heard and loved. So when they are driving me crazy or when I’m struggling with one of them, I hope this song will remind me that my job is to find the ones that need finding.
“Who I’d Be” from Shrek: the Musical
First, I just love this song. I never thought I’d be a Shrek the Musical fan, but I love the music. This song has such possibilities for my students. Students have dreams and it’s my job to help them get to those dreams, not to destroy them.
“Firework” by Katy Perry
As teachers it so easy to look at what we feel we are doing wrong. This song is a good reminder that we are doing good things, that we have things to be proud of. We need that as much as our students do I think.
Honorable Mentions (songs that aren’t really about teaching but that make me happy):
“Evermore” from the movie Beauty and the Beast
“Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears” by Celtic Thunder
“Lost in the Wilderness” from the musical Children of Eden
“The Parting Glass” by Celtic Woman
“Under a Violet Moon” by Blackmore’s Night
“You’re Welcome” from the movie Moana
What songs inspire, motivate, console you in your work as a teacher? Add them to the comments below.