I woke up immersed in an intense dream about teaching. I was back at Nelson, teaching eight grade again. There was a mandatory assembly coming up about structural changes in the school environment. There were two children who were visitors to the class, forced into the situation as kids who were “shopping” the school to see if they wanted to switch schools and potentially join my classroom.
Classroom management was more challenging than it should have been. There was electricity in the air about the assembly and the visitors had no buy-in to our classroom norms.
Eventually, I had to move the students out of the room towards the assembly. I stopped them on a field of grass to try to pull them together after our disfunction back in the classroom. Outside, my vocal power was diminished; I was having to speak much louder to be heard. There was much commotion around us. Some of my students were talking loudly, not listening, not behaving well.
The principal came up and in an aggressive voice, she told one of the potential students that the child would not be allowed to join our school because of the behavior the principal had observed. She made bellicose remarks to my class and then swaggered away.
One of the new kids had complained twice that something was unfair, so I finally stopped what I was doing, got close to her, and asked, “What is unfair?” She told me that she had been charged $75 to come visit our school. I was visibly angered by this and said that it was, indeed, unfair. “This is a public school. They cannot charge you money to come here,” I said. The look in her eyes was very satisfying. Her demeanor changed and I knew that she had been heard, given the feedback that she was correct.
Near the end of the dream, I could not bring my class close enough to me that they would be able to hear what I said. Other students were moving past us; there was commotion all around us. What I was telling them was this: Tell me what you need to be successful in school. Tell me what you want to be successful in school. Write it down, or make sure that I write it down when you tell me. It is too important to leave it to my memory. I want to know. I want to act on what you tell me.”
Then I woke up, exhausted, first thing in the morning, from a typical day of teaching.
And that is why I am retired.