Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher?

Just Thinking….

When I was in college, I used to have this panic dream that I had forgotten to go to class all semester (silly me…), and now it was time for the exam, and I was sure to fail (oh the shame…). It was always the same dream before exams.

Then when I began teaching, I had a different kind of panic dream. This was where I found myself teaching, minus some necessary items of clothing. Or I wasn’t ready for class, and was so embarrassed. Or I had forgotten everything I knew about the subject. The bottom line was that I was unprepared.

Those dreams continued through my career, especially just before school started in the fall. After so many years, they didn’t panic me anymore, but the dreams persisted.

But I have been retired for 5 years now from full time teaching, and about 9 months from part time teaching. You would think the dreams would know enough to go away. But no.

Last week, I had two of these dreams on two consecutive nights.

The first one was that I was teaching “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller. This is one of my all-time favorites to read, to study and to teach. My lectures and activities were firmly grounded in my head. I wanted the students to see parallels between themselves and the world they live in, with Willy Loman’s world. It’s a great morality play! Anyway, I was lecturing about some of the symbolism in the play: Willy’s name, the sons’ names, the garden, etc. I reached a blank. I knew there was much more I needed to say, but absolutely nothing was in my head. In my dream, I was just staring at my students in bewilderment, and they were staring at me in bewilderment. I knew that I needed to give them a test. But the scene was suddenly not in a classroom, but in a house, and my students were all over the house, out on the porch, and sitting in cars in front of the porch. How in the world could I give a test to them when they were scattered all over? I would have no control over the testing situation. It was going to be a multiple choice test (which was strange, as I didn’t give this type of test), but in this “house” situation, that would only lead to cheating. So I did what I often did in teaching: I changed gears very quickly and found a different way. I announced that this was an essay test, and everyone had a different question. There! That would solve it! And then I remembered how much time it took to grade essays….. and I woke up.

The next night, I dreamed that I went back to DHS (the last school for which I taught full time), to substitute teach. I had forgotten where everything was: strange after 20+ years in that institution. I couldn’t find the teacher mail boxes, so I just didn’t check for mail. I was lost trying to find the classroom, and ended up missing the entire class. The hallways were a maze and a jumble, and I was just blindly trying to find the room. I thought I was close one time as it was supposed to be Room 4, and I found Room 3 and Rooms 5 and 6, but Room 4 was nowhere to be seen. I tried to find my way back to the office, but even that was futile. I woke up feeling so bad about not doing my responsibilities.

Why oh why do I have these dreams? I know that back to school dreams are common with teachers. Not sure if other professions have similar types of dreams or not. I was told that I had the dreams because my career was very important to me and that I wanted to do my very best. True….. But why am I still dreaming?

Father, thank You for the opportunity of a wonderful career in teaching. Not everyone can retire thinking and knowing that they enjoyed their work. Thank you for all the people who have been on this journey: students, fellow teachers, parents, and staff. I have been blessed beyond measure with a feeling of success in teaching, of knowing that I made a difference in some lives, and with the acquaintance and friendship of many folks that I otherwise would never have known. It is by Your grace that all this occurred. May the skills that You gave me in teaching still be used for Your glory. Even though I don’t know why I have had these dreams, I thank You for bringing my teaching years back to mind.

To God be the Glory,

Published in: on February 2, 2012 at 7:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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