Thursday, October 27, 2011

Anxiety Dreams of Teachers - BOO!

Had my first anxiety dream about teaching in TWO YEARS last night.

It began, and they always do, with the kids not listening, being distracting, making noise, etc. When I final decided to get the lesson started, it was incomplete and thoroughly boring. Lost the kids again; got them back just in time to have an officer on horseback come into the room to arrest two students. Got them back again but needed to know how much time was left. Clock in the room and on my computer didn't work; I couldn't fnd any paper for a sign-in sheet.

Went next door to my former colleague's room only to find a room full of parents, followed by a hallway full of parents (touring the school?). When I came back in, the kids had changed the TV channel to iCarly and were all standing up. A parent followed me in, and I said, 'So this is funny, changing it to iCarly and seeing how long it would be until I noticed? Have a seat." They sat down, and I woke up.

What is it about teaching? When I was in public school, I had regular anxiety dreams about teaching, all with the general theme that I couldn't get students to stop talking and listen, or that I was unprepared for the day. The stakes are so high for teachers, and the addition of judgmental parents wandering through the building is  a new, evaluative twist for me. Don't people realize that the vast majority of teachers desperately want for the kids to do well, and that the pressures teachers face are ever mounting? 

I know other teachers have these dreams; we have talked about them. I haven't had them in the two years since I started HoneyFern, but it's not because I am not teaching, or the stakes are not high, or the kids don't matter - on the contrary. This is where I put my money where my mouth is and end up even more under a microscope. It's not less pressure, but the pressure is different, less judgmental. I get the feeling that the responsibility for learning rests not just on my shoulders now but also on the students', something that was missing increasingly every year (fewer students were motivated to have a a hand in constructing knowledge, and fewer parents held them accountable). I am less anxious about the teaching because that is the most important thing, and I get to keep it most important. I am not prepping for a test or some random academic milestone; I know my kids and what they need and what they excel in and we get to do that, not fill in a blank or select a letter.

I am tired, up too early, and ready for the day to start NOW. Quite a bit different than my last couple years in public school when I woke (stressed and anxious every morning about what fresh hell I might be walking into - demanding parent, demanding administrator, unwilling student, etc). Clearing the last cobwebs of the dream from my head with some very strong coffee then off to find a skeleton, coordinate our next Stock Market Game lessons and plan French for today.

Sweet(er) dreams...

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