Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Teacher Nightmare

No, I don't mean the bureaucracy and paperwork that teachers have to complete. I mean the real, honest to God dreams that go south and make you wake up in a cold sweat. There are dreams that I wouldn't have unless I was a teacher. People seem to find these funny, but I really wake up completely horrified sometimes.

Some of the dreams seem to be common for people. You're in your dream and you realize you signed up for a class and you never went! When I was in college, I always dreamed it was a Spanish class. I guess it was Spanish because there was no way I would be able to fake my way through the final that I was late for, despite not remembering that I signed up for the class. I'd wake up, freak out and immediately check my schedule to see there were no Spanish courses listed for me. I expect these dreams will come back as I entered college again to get my second masters.

The variation now that I'm a teacher is that I somehow missed some required class in high school and I have to make it up. I, a twenty something adult with a career and a family, have to make up some random high school class. But that's okay! I can take it at my school, with my students as my classmates during my planning period! And for some reason, the teacher is really mean to me and I have tons of homework that I'd never give my students. So I don't get my planning and I'm doing hours of homework for this one class and all of my students seem to do it easily and laugh because I'm having such a hard time. I get mad and snap at them that some people have to work in addition to taking this freakishly hard class. And then I made them cry because I snapped at them and I feel awful.

Sometimes I have dreams that I've moved classrooms and I'm teaching thirty kids in what amounts to a broom closet. Other things are usually wrong. Sometimes my computer breaks. Sometimes they tell me that I don't teach English anymore, but math or science.

They are all anxiety dreams. They're a stand in for some other anxiety that I'm feeling. The problem is that I sleep to get some rest, but I wake up more tired than when I went to sleep in the first place.

Sometimes I wonder what the specific nightmares are for other professions. Do lawyers have nightmares about the courtroom? Do nurses dream that they have a hundred patients and no help? What are your job related nightmares?


  1. Being a Spanish teacher, I could get through your Spanish 609 class no problem...but boy howdy...I know all about those dreams! I have the same dream about a class that I never went to, etc. And my back-to-school dreams usually consist of me standing in front of a class of 30 kids, screaming my head off, no one is listening and then 40 minutes goes by, the bell rings and they all get up and leave. Of course, that has never even come close to happening in my real life, though I have had to do my share of yelling. Good question about lawyers or nurses or whatever. I've never had anyone mention them, but all my teacher friends have the same dreams like you wrote about. So weird! :) I've got 2 weeks to go before school starts, so my dreams should be kicking in big time any minute now!

  2. I'm a journalist and my "work" dreams are usually discovering an extra page that has to be designed right before deadline or it being after deadline and nothing is done and I'm racing to do things and everyone around me kicking back and laughing and joking and not helping.

  3. actually, the "official" name for such dreams--which are common enough to have an oficial name--is Actor's Nightmare, in which the actor dreams he is onstage in a play but has no idea which one, or what his role is, or his lines, and the curtain rises.


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