Keeping it (and my) coooool

earworm (EER.wurm) n. A song or tune that repeats over and over inside a person’s head. Also: ear-worm, ear worm.

I have a technique I use on those days when I need a little ‘something extra’ for getting myself in the correct frame of mind for dealing with my classroom full of underachieving and behaviorally challenged high school students, and I’ve found it to be very helpful. It’s all about keeping things cool.

I get the ‘Peter Gunn’ theme rolling in my head; a self-inflicted ear worm, if you will. You know; that menacing slide trombone da-da-da-da-da-da….

The self-inflicted earworm is a very effective technique that I highly recommend, though the choice of tune is totally up to you, and is certainly situational based on you and your personality – and of course, your job.


There are times when a random tune has cropped up to frame a specific classroom situation – like when from across the room one of my teenage charges thinks I don’t see him/her using their cellphone, and I can casually, stealthily come up behind them to quietly deliver their invitation to the next session of lunch detention for said electronic device infraction. That’s when I start hearing the theme from ‘Jaws’ in my head.


Fortunately, that one (song or mood) doesn’t hang around very long.

Mostly I stick with the planned stuff. Peter Gunn is a hip,cool, ‘hey-I-got-this’ confidence booster/mood setter. Television and movie themes from the sixties in general have a strong track record in this regard, though Hawaii Five-O is a bit much, with the beat jacking up the testosterone too much and then overpowering the plot and the scene. Too sinister for classroom use is The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, though that one has been known to pop up in staff and management oriented situations. Or parent teacher conferences. If I’m going toe-to-toe (nose to nose?) with a parent who insists their little darling is not the thug wannabe sitting in my classroom, that forlorn whistling helps.

For the record, Mission Impossible works well if you need to get your head straight to deal directly with the district office: think, ‘blowing things up, start from scratch.’ And of course, mood wise, if the week starts to drag a bit, I can always mentally cue-up the Route 66 theme to speed up and smooth the path for Friday afternoon departure.

Just like in the movies, an excellent soundtrack can set the scene, set the mood and make for powerful scenes and memorable moments. Though in the case of the self-inflicted, on-the-clock earworm, be careful; with great power comes great responsibility.

I figure I’m okay as long as I continue to use my powers for good and not evil. Da-da-da-da-da-da….



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