Have you woken this morning feeling uneasy, a bit distracted, not particularly refreshed, something niggling at you somewhere? Have you woken feeling like this on and off for the last week? Then I bet you’re a teacher two days away from returning to work, the summer holiday just not long enough. The fear of what awaits eating into you, ruining your last few days.
It’s not fair, is it? You spend the first week of the holiday getting over the year, the traumas and excesses of your life in a classroom, an edge of fear about your results hovering as you leave, wondering if you have done enough, if your students will do well. And then you can spend another week at the end as the dread, the fear about the new year builds again.
What I find amazing is that this fear never goes away. I’ve been doing this job for thirty years and STILL I have the dreams of dread, the uneasy awakening, the confusion about where I am, and what day it is. Then the dream crawls its way back to the front of my brain and I realise it was only a dream but that my days in the sun are numbered.
Last night I dreamt I couldn’t find my own classroom, or even a desk to work from, there were no IT facilities for me, I was meant to be preparing for an observation, I’d been away for too long and didn’t know my students and then the lesson I was preparing had been done by someone else in an amazing whizz-bang way and I knew I was doomed. Oh, yes, it was a fun dream.
Signs You’ve Got the Fear
*Dreams about – the students, no classroom control, being unprepared, being ignored, not belonging, being outside looking in, being in a school that isn’t really your school but you know it is, being rejected, results that swim before your eyes
*Unable to settle to a good night’s sleep again – unable to get to sleep, waking too often, not wanting to get out of bed in the am, feeling shit when you do wake up
*Looking for other jobs – there has to be an easier way to earn a living!
*Playing lotto – perhaps it is your turn this weekend…
*Face-booking your sadness, knowing your teacher friends will sympathise and join you in your suffering
*Feeling hopelessly inadequate about all parts of your life, not just your job
*Shopping for new clothes anyway, because shopping always makes you feel better
*Endless last drinks with mates to prolong the holiday vibe
Sadly I know of no cure for this. The fear seems to be one of the nastier side effects of being a teacher, the downside of the long holidays. I’m sure other professions have something similar, something you just have to endure, like childbirth to have a child.
Never mind, Sunday nights often make you feel as bad, don’t they? And Monday morning makes you want to pull the covers over your head and stay there forever.
Never mind, we’ll plough on, just the same, be sparkling and bright for Monday’s endlessly mind numbing round of meetings, telling us what we already know, a mixture of aren’t you all shit and aren’t we going to be wonderful, and without any time to prepare or do anything really useful.
Never mind, we will still be the best we can, won’t we?
I guess it’s a bit like stage fright for actors, the fear is part and parcel of the job. If you don’t feel the fear you can’t do your job, you don’t care enough about it, you won’t be good enough.
So, feel the fear and do it anyway. (Images courtesy of Private Collection)