Using the Force as a jEDi LEADER

I PROMISE THERE ARE NO SPOILERS TO THE NEW STAR WARS MOVIE!

I am getting very excited for the upcoming Star Wars movie!  What has me more excited than watching the screen?  Watching my son witness his first Star Wars movie on the big screen!

My son isn’t just jumping on the bandwagon for a chance to watch another movie in the theater and stuff his face with popcorn; he is actually a member of the “Star Wars Fan Club”!  From when he was 4, he was watching the episodes (in every kind of order) and engaging in deep philosophical conversations about the galaxy, technology, space, the Force, and good vs. evil.

In my preparation for the historic event of Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens, I reflected over the past week on the previous six episodes as an ED LEADER to consider how the movies impacted my outlook on leadership and our work as educators in schools.  Therefore, to honor the first six episodes, I share six movie quotes, one from each episode, and how they should connect to us as an ED LEADER, or should I say a jEDi LEADER:

  • “Mom, you said that the biggest problem in the universe is no one helps each other.” – Anakin Skywalker, Episode 1
    • I would be a proud ED LEADER, if my student said this to his mom! Can you imagine what it would take for a child to say something like this?  Our ultimate goal as educational leaders should not just be to dispense information.  As jEDi LEADERS, our goal ought to embed empathy in how kids see the world and encourage them to be the change.
  • “Truly wonderful the mind of a child it.” – Yoda, Episode 2
    • While student teaching as a middle school math teacher, my mentor encouraged me to look for misconceptions in student learning, reasoning, and logic.  This fairly simple assignment unlocked many doors for me.  In order to uncover the misconceptions, I had to probe, ask questions, and investigate how students think and learn.  This meant I had to engage with my students by listening.  Too often, we are in the rush to answer their question that we forget to pause and remember the learning process at that age and how students make meaning and connections.  As jEDi LEADERS, we need to help ourselves as well as others to embrace the curiosity and miracle of how children see the world.
  • “The force is strong with this one.” – Darth Vader, Episode 3
    • Even when I watch this episode and hear this quote, I still get goosebumps! Darth Vader was able to, through observation, see an inner strength of another person.  This past summer, I observed a presentation by one of our high school students I had never met.  She was prepared, poised, and knew her stuff.  I was amazed and proud of her!  Isn’t it great when we are able to look at the inner heart of someone else and see their potential being played out.  When that happens, all you can do is get out of their way and encourage them to keep going!  As jEDi LEADERS, we need to support the belief in looking at the inner potential in others and help bring it out to reality.
  • “Never tell me the odds.” – Han Solo, Episode 4
    • Only Harrison Ford could pull off a quote like that!  There are meetings in which I like to see data in order to make judgements and future recommendations.  But, there are times, when it is appropriate to push the numbers aside.  Luckily for me, I have gotten to see enough students, who would be classified with multiple at-risk factors, push themselves to great achievements.  I hold on to these reminders that the human heart can’t always be calculated.  As jEDi LEADERS, we must look past the numbers that sometimes limit our belief in students and others in order to raise our expectations, goals, and beliefs for success.
  • “Do or do not – there is no try.” – Yoda, Episode 5
    • Even before the concepts of “grit”, “resiliency”, and “growth mindset” became the new fad, Yoda’s famous quote pushed our thinking to dive in with an attitude to put our heart in it; not just a weak attempt that elicits someone to merely try.  As jEDi LEADERS, we need to consider how we motivate our students as well as colleagues to get this same mindset from them and elevates their approach to a challenge.
  • “Let go of your hate.” – Luke Skywalker, Episode 6
    • Before Elsa told us to “Let it Go”, Luke Skywalker gave us this plea to action.  I am amazed at times when I see adult issues arise when we should be focusing on our students.  What starts as misunderstanding or bent up frustration on a previous decision, anger begins to brew.  Left unaddressed, the anger festers and builds up to a place that is unhealthy and toxic.  It’s easy to say, but it is hard to do – “let go of your hate”.  As jEDi LEADERS, we need to be careful not to ignore our feelings that hold us from moving forward to help our students and address them early with the common belief in doing what’s best for students.

As jEDi LEADERS, we are part of an amazing story in a child’s life.  It needs to be our goal to recognize the legacy we create in every decision we make.  Be on alert – our words tell an incredible story in a saga with each of our students.

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