Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Relief from Disaster

It was the worst class of my life. I was teaching 6th grade and we had to prepare for the concert next week and nobody—and I mean, nobody—was with the program. As I was going over the plan for the rehearsal, no one was paying any attention. They were all talking with each other or lethargic or just generally checked out. I was getting angry with them, but to no effect. The louder I talked, the more they ignored me. Finally, I started singling out the worst offenders and kicking them out of class, a strategy that usually makes others perk up. But now it had the opposite effect. My anger escalated and I grabbed a kid by his shoulders to escort him out and squeezed harder than Child Protective Services recommends. Another kid I grabbed by the head while yelling in his face and still another dug my fingernails into his cheeks while talking. I told them that I was cancelling their part in the concert and they’d just have to come and watch the 7th and 8th grade and that never in my 43 years of teaching had I ever had to do this. Still no effect. I told them I was about to walk out the door and never return and it would be their fault and they didn’t seem to care at all. It just was getting worse and worse.

And then I woke up.

Such nightmares have been a part of my August repertoire most of my teaching life. Most teachers have them, the kind where they show up to class unprepared or naked or in the wrong school. It is the psyche’s way of preparing the teacher for the year to come, getting the disasters out of the way in the imagination so we perk up and make sure they don’t actually happen in real life.

Odd to have this dream since I’m not teaching this Fall, but maybe a reminder from my sub-conscious that I’m still in the game. Yesterday was my first day of my writing projects and it went well, despite the three hours spent biking around to the Apple Store, a jewelry and a funky Mom & Pop computer repair place to see if anyone could get the miniscule end of the headphone jack stuck in the portal out. No one could, I don’t have sound on the computer and have one more chance short of an $800 repair or a new computer. That was not fun. But the beginning of the writing felt good, a different way to keep connected to teaching by trying to capture both the material and effective processes from the last six years or so since publishing my last book.

So now that I’m awake, it’s time to work. 6th grade, I’m happy to report that you’ll still be in the concert. 

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