Why Your Back-to-School "Dream" is a Good Sign and Could Inspire Your Best Year Yet
Have you had the dream yet?
You know the one. It happens in the final weeks of summer, before teachers have to report back to school. For some reason, they come sooner and sooner for me every year. I haven’t had it yet, but I can sense it in the distance, like the faint, high minor chord of a horror movie soundtrack.
Every teacher’s back-to-school, “the class goes completely bananas” dream is slightly different.
As a high school teacher, my dream is populated by teenagers. I can never recall what I have done wrong or how I got to this moment, but the class will not be quiet and will not sit down and will not do what I want them to do. In some versions, there is crazed running around or chairs wielded with menace. I can only imagine what elementary and middle school teachers’ versions are like.
For me, the part that is the worst is what happens next: I drop the F-bomb.
In my dream, eyes wide with a combination of terror and rage, I scream that everyone needs to, “Shut the F up and sit the F down!” Classy, I know. What happens in the remainder of the dream is inconsequential because the worst has happened. I have completely lost my cool and feel shame for having done so.
(Note to any previous or future employers: This has never actually happened in real life – I swear)
So why is having this dream a good sign?
Anxiety dreams like this remind us that we care. They prove that we are passionate about doing a good job and are invested in holding ourselves to a certain standard. These back-to-school dreams show us our own fears and insecurities as teachers, and yet we overcome them every time we walk into school willing to take on whatever the day may hold.
But school isn’t back in session yet, and as such, I encourage you to savor every moment of summer that remains. While you’re still well-rested and have the time and mental bandwidth to do so, I also would invite you to consider how to make the most of this coming school year.
Prioritize your self-care so you can better care for others.
We will all go back to school with the freshness and optimism that every new year brings. Then the inevitable challenges and stresses will arise as we knew they would (hopefully none as bad as the worst parts of your back-to-school dream). While we can’t prevent these challenges, we can make choices that help us to weather them with greater success. In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, “We can’t stop the waves, but we can learn to surf.”
The mindfulness-based strategies that help us to surf around the waves of life have been around for a while, and now is a perfect time to learn or revisit them. If you’re interested, you can…
develop better self-awareness so you can silence your inner critic
get more practice in letting things go
clarify what is most important to you so you can say "no" to overcommitting without guilt
learn how to sit in quiet and stillness to see more clearly through the dust-storm of your mind
Learn to surf.
Every year as educators we learn and evolve and get better at what we do. If you would like this year to be your best one yet, get on my email list and join me for an exploration of how mindfulness-based stress management strategies like the ones mentioned above can support you, so you can better support your students.