Missing: Back to School Anxiety Dreams
Appearance: These dreams, really nightmares, usually look like boxes all over the place while students wander into the classroom, ignoring everything I say. I am unprepared and unable to manage the class.
Frequency: Every year, since I started teaching in 2001. Normally they appear in August but they have been known to also come in July.
If found: Feel free to send them away! They are not really missed at all.
It dawned on me the other day that I haven't had any back to school anxiety dreams yet. This is WAY late in the season for them to have not made their ugly arrival. Most of the time, the dreams center around the classroom being a mess and then the students coming while I am not ready. I can never find the papers I need and I search through boxes while they run around the room. The only good thing about waking up from these dreams is realizing that didn't really happen and I can still get it right for the first day of school.
I'm not sure why I haven't had these dreams this year, when I've had them every single year of my teaching career. One theory is I'm not sleeping all that great, as witnessed by this post being drafted at 3am. Another theory is I've been so immersed in professional learning this summer that maybe my sleep is dream-free since I've been doing so much thinking about teaching during my waking hours. Who can say?
As the first day of school draws closer (kids arrive September 2nd), these dreams still might show, but I find it interesting that they haven't yet. This past year has been a year of a lot of professional growth for me, a year of taking some risks, engaging in conversations, trying new strategies, building a new mindset. A lot of my joy, passion, and convictions have returned after a temporary lapse into anger, frustration, and hopelessness at what teaching, testing, and unfair laws have done to the profession.
Billy Joel sings about the "Angry Young Man" who has "never been able to learn from mistakes, so he can't understand why his heart always breaks." I'm giving up being the Angry Not That Youngish Lady. Being angry is exhausting and takes energy away from the good that you can do. I've decided to stop focusing on the unfairness of the teacher evaluation system and concentrate on the good I can do in the classroom and the reason I became a teacher in the first place. In the end, you have to rest your head on the pillow at night, content in your heart that you have done what you believe is right, come what may.
Anxiety dreams or not, my head and heart are in a much better place. The new school year is awaiting and I am excited for all the possibilities.