The August Nightmares
Every August the nightmares reoccur. I am wandering lost in a labyrinthine of high school corridors and staircases searching for my classroom. I have no lesson plans, no roll book, and no textbooks. I don’t have the slightest clue what I am teaching. I am in a state of sheer panic. When I arrive at the room, there is nothing, but a disarray of desks filled with disorderly students. In some versions of the dream I am lacking my clothing and try desperately to hide my vulnerability. What do these dreams mean and why do they stop occurring once I begin teaching my first classes every year?
Beginning teachers tell me they have similar dreams, but I have been teaching just shy of forty years and they still occur. Being a teacher is such a difficult job that regardless of the years of experience, we all feel very vulnerable because we are aware of how easily a class can become chaos. Obviously each of us who share these nightmares understand the importance of proper preparation and organization and understand that is the only thing that stands between us and chaos. Maybe for us, the idea of losing control of our students and being unprepared is the most frightening idea of all. Perhaps that fear is the reason that as students we were the overachievers and as teachers we not only have one lesson plan each day, but two alternative plans just in case.
Lucky for me the dream didn’t occur this year. This August I have awakened from a calm sleep by two dogs, Bubba and Rufus, leaping on me and licking my face. To Bubba and Rufus this is time for our walk. The nightmares of August are over. My new students are these two obedient dogs that sit at each intersection and wait for my “Good Boys” signal to walk safely across the street. Two dogs who sit when I stop and watch a hawk perched three yards from us sail off. There are no more lesson plans, no more papers to correct, and no more nightmares. . . oh, the joy of retirement.