While this is not an official 40 before 40 adventure, it’s definitely an adventure in which I partake each August…
Let me set the scene:
The children are getting excited about seeing their friends, who’s in their classes and which teachers they have…
They are ready to sport their new clothes, haircuts and gear…
Parents are out shopping for the expensive and extremely picky school supply lists…
And moms and dads are rejoicing that someone else can enjoy their children for 7.5 hours a day…
But one thing that you might not know…
One little teeny tiny secret hidden deep in the teacher archives…
BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHTMARES
Oops that was 4 words…
Yes, you heard me correctly. It’s true.
Teachers everywhere are waking up in a cold sweat from their annual back to school nightmares.
This is not the kind of “I just had a kick butt workout and feel like a superstar” kind of sweat. This is the “I’ve just had a panic attack and can’t breathe” kind of sweat.
It’s not just about the kids. We love the kids. Even those that make us want to scream and pull our hair out. In fact, the most challenging students are usually the ones the need us the most.
Don’t worry I won’t keep posting memes and inspirational quotes. I have something even better later in the post. I’m really about to nerd out…so get ready!
Back to the story…
So these nightmares are mostly about all the things that need to get done and the panic that they never will.
At the end of each school year, I’m the teacher who doesn’t care what my room looks like. I’m ready for summer and I’m leaving as soon as the kids do. Some teachers are more disciplined and leave their rooms organized.
To an outsider, my room looks organized (like my house), but don’t you dare open a cupboard or a closet.
I just shove stuff in cupboards and slam the doors shut. Then I wait for a couple of seconds and if the door stays closed, I’m good to go. “Peace out middle school…see you on the flipside!”
But the problem arises when I must return in August. And nothing is where it should be and I honestly can’t remember where I shoved things (that might be getting worse as I’m nearing the ripe old age of 40).
The first time every year that I walk into my classroom at the end of summer I look around and then I walk right back out and go home.
This year, I’ve been in my room several times for STEM planning meetings, so it was a little bit better. I put one table back the first time and then I put ALL the tables and chairs back the second time.
Here’s how these nightmares might go…
It’s the first day of school and I overslept. The rest of the dream is all about trying to get to school, but nothing is going right and everything is going wrong. For example, my clothes aren’t washed or my hair dryer broke.
I might actually get out the door and in the car only to realize that it’s out of gas. I’ll make it to the gas station (barely) and then I realize that I left my wallet at home.
Or when I actually start driving I might glance in the rearview mirror and realize that I only have mascara on one eye.
If I actually make it to school, the real problems start. I unlock my classroom and open the door only to realize that I forget to set it up at all. Like it looks like it did in August when everything was shoved into any empty space.
Or maybe the classroom is set up, but the students are arriving and I have no plans…none…not a thing.
The silliest nightmare of all though is that there is complete anarchy in the classroom on the first day of school and there’s no getting the children back under control.
I find this one to be the most amusing because it’s so weird that this is such a common occurrence in my dreaming brain.
I mean these are kids who for the most part love being at school (even when they say they don’t). They are nervous just like us. They just want to know that their teachers are nice. They want to feel safe and welcome and excited about what’s in store for the year.
These middle schoolers aren’t scary horror film characters who are waiting for just the right moment to unleash their evil plans.
I’ll never forget in my very first practicum, a teacher said, “Never smile until winter break”. Like I had to be mean to get them to behave. That was kind of a theme in several classrooms that I observed and I never got it. It just didn’t make sense to me.
There is a difference between being mean and having high expectations. I’ve always smiled and cracked jokes (bad ones…just keep reading…I’ve got a surprise at the end). Kids still behave in my class. I don’t have to be mean or scary. I just have to be excited about what we are doing and it’s kind of contagious. It’s like I trick them into learning because we are having fun. My favorite f-word. Okay…maybe my second favorite f-word.
Geez, you guys…get your head out of the gutter. Friends. Friends is my favorite f-word.
The moral of the story is that teachers are having nightmares right now because they love their job and your kids.
They want to do their best. They are worrying about all the things that need to get done. They are prepping and planning lessons and units and new better ways to engage the kids and inspire them.
And if they are like me…
They are stockpiling nerdy science jokes too:
So happy back to school everyone. Make the most of rest of your summer.
I know I will.