Maybe you think I must be a huge Star Wars fan, hence the title "Jedi Music". I'm sorry to disappoint anyone who is google-ing to find their dream woman, but I didn't sleep outside in a tent for months to see "Return of the Sith", nor are my children named Luke, Leia, and Yoda. I'm just a child of the eighties who saw the original three movies (I mean "Episodes IV, V, and VI" for those die-hards amung you) and didn't think too much about them after that. I saw parts of the latest three movies in between nodding off at key points. Other than an experimental double bun childhood hairstyle phase, it just wasn't my thing.
I had a revisiting to the "Galaxy Far, Far Away" recently when my eight year old son became interested in Star Wars via Legos. My husband, who was sorely disappointed in my lack of interest (or consciousness, for that matter) in Star Wars, was only too happy to dust off the old DVDs and introduce a new generation to George Lucas's brainchild. Offhandedly paying attention as usual, one particular scene did catch my attention and led to much thought.
One scene in "The Phantom Menace" has Jedi Masters Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, along with a creature by the name of Jar Jar Binks experiencing technical difficulties with the spacecraft they are riding in. Jar Jar is flipping out, screaming, moaning, and thinking that he is going to meet his maker. By contrast, the Jedis are cool, calmly speaking to each other, and working on a solution to their problem.
"Hmmm", I thought. "I should point this out to the boy." (My son is not known for his patience.)
But, the more I thought about it, the more that I realized that the scene really speaks to those of us who teach. Teachers experience difficulties (technical or other) every single day. The best laid plans can fail. Students go berserk. Fire drills happen. So does vomit. How are we reacting? Are we the Jar Jar Binks of the elementary school, spewing doom, gloom and negativity everywhere we go? Are we the ones running around in circles, flapping our hands and raising our voices? Or, are we staying calm, speaking in measured tones, and working on solutions to help our students?
In my first two years of teaching, my school had an unofficial mantra: The Teacher Sets the Tone. It was an often repeated piece of advice from a previous principal. The teachers would use it often in a joking way to tease a teacher whose students were acting up. Old advice, yes, but it really does ring true. Calm teachers have calmer classrooms. Frantic teachers have students you can hear approaching a mile away. Students are looking to their teachers to see how they should react to situations that disrupt their day. The teacher does indeed set the tone.
So, this is how I decided to be "Jedi Music". I want to be the cool, calm, in-control educator (errr, I mean "Master") who is working to provide my students ("apprentices??" Some fan please help me out here...) with the best possible music experience. I may have to study up on the series to get all of my analogies correct. (I hope I can stay awake...)
In your teaching, May the Force Be With You.