Many teachers have back-to-school teaching dreams. These “anxiety dreams” may contain unpleasant situations or dilemmas, such as forgetting to prepare a lesson, teaching the wrong class, or other problematic occurrences. Why do these dreams occur? What specific dreams have teachers experienced? Do these dreams happen for all levels of educators? This article explores some individuals’ teaching anxiety dreams as well as looking at these dreams in a more general fashion.
Teachers often share quietly among themselves about their strange back-to-school teaching dreams. The dreams vary, of course, depending upon the person. While the existence of anxiety dreams may be common knowledge among teachers, many people in society, including students, often are not aware that teachers frequently dream about returning to school. Perhaps this article will open their eyes to the emotional preparedness teachers often face when beginning a new school year.
Personal Experiences – Blogging
Time and time again, teachers have shared their teaching anxiety dreams online through journals, blogs, or articles. These become evidence of how common these back-to-school dreams can be. Here are a few examples:
Marsha Pincus, on March 26, 2009, shares in an excellent blog how she views teacher anxiety dreams as a way of emphasizing a teacher’s need to connect with others in a meaningful way.
Jody, on December 26, 2005, summarized how teacher anxiety dreams occur during vacations, too. Her particular dream included starting with a new group of students who were obnoxious seniors and she had to teach all writing as her curriculum. The students were constantly distracted by music in a neighboring classroom and she called one of her students a “stupid little moron.”
Ed in the Apple, on August 16, 2010, shared eloquent insights on being a teacher. He said, “Teaching is a unique job, the kids never get older, sixth graders remain sixth graders.” More than that, however, he shared that no matter what good intentions you had for the summer, “The clock is ticking, all those wonderful summer plans unfulfilled, those books you planned to read, the lesson plans you intended to write, waking up in the middle of the night, a strange school-related dream, anxiety grows as summer ebbs.”
Eric Baylin, a columnist at Education World, published a clever song called the “Teacher Anxiety Song.” He shared that even after over 30 years of teaching experience he would have dreams in late July that he had forgotten to write his end of the year eighth grade reports.
Whether teaching elementary, middle, high school, or even college, many teachers or professors experience teaching related dreams. The dreams are not limited in scope to one subgroup.
Reasons for Teacher Anxiety Dreams
As Elaine Showalter wrote in her book, Teaching Literature, that the anxiety of teaching frequently carries over into dreamland. Mrs. Showalter referenced Jane Tompkins who said, “I wish I had been warned about what an ego-battering exercise teaching can be.” She went on to state that teachers are exposed to all types of criticism and rejection, as if they are on display for others to judge.
In chapter one, Mrs. Showalter summarized the seven areas that cause teaching anxiety. These included lack of training, isolation, teaching versus research, coverage, performance, grading, and evaluation.
As teachers dream their back-to-school anxiety dreams, chances are their dream will somehow fit within one or several of the seven areas listed above. These anxieties are natural within the educational profession, so it makes sense that teachers would dream about them.
Have you ever experienced teaching anxiety dreams? If so, please share an example. If not, what do you think about teachers having these dreams prior to back-to-school time? Please comment below.
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