I have a recurring theme to my nightmares – fighting for someone, and it turning into fighting either someone I love or fighting for myself.
Most seem to start out in a surreal world related to schools. Invariably in the dream-to-be-nightmare, I arrive at a school to teach a particular class. The class is a group of miscreants who’ve been banished from regular classrooms to one isolated from the rest of the school. Sometimes they classroom is off away among a mini forest, or is in a broken, neglected building on the verge of collapse.
The dream students are all adolescents, and often absentees. They have their own “dress code” whereas the school’s other students dutifully wear the prescribed uniform. They keep to their own schedule, coming in and out to fit their other life on the street or just wasting it out at home. Some have a criminal record for minor misdemeanours, Some are hard core fighters against the world if only emotionally.
I find resources for them. I find second hand furniture, and show them how to upgrade it. I buy paint for the walls, scrounge carpet for the floor… I try to make it become “their” classroom. We get along well, as I apply a relaxed “teach what they need when they need it” approach. They come to respect me, and that’s all I need from them.
In the meantime I’m arguing the case for them to be in a safer building, as there is an ever increasing threat of the building collapsing or falling into a sink hole beneath it. Other staff become aggravated that I’m not following the regular curriculum, I’m being given too much leeway, too many resources, too much unaccountable funding…
And as the dream becomes a nightmare, I have to physically take action. I wrestle a falling student up from the gulf which has opened beneath her. I shove furniture off from on top of students as the building is shaken by an earthquake. I separate two fighting students. I defend a student from a walk-in attacker.
And that’s when I waken – as my sleeping body physically moves with the nightmare activity. More than once I’ve hit my sleeping husband (poor guy). On more than one occasion I’ve fallen back to sleep to dream it all over again.
I hate that nightmare. I’ve wondered if it reflects anything real from my teaching career. And, yes, I’ve had to verbally argue for better conditions, more resources. I’ve had to separate fighting students. I’ve had to face down other staff disgruntled by my department getting funs=ding for classroom improvements. But these things never upset me at the time or place.
I stopped compulsory education level teaching in 2001. Why does this come back to haunt me? Who can say – perhaps I didn’t fight the good fight enough for some students – I don’t know. But I so wish this nightmare would let me get over it!
Posted in response to this Daily Prompt: