August Dreams

Aug 4, 2010 by

It’s the beginning of August.  Have the dreams started yet?  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?  The back-to-school anxiety dreams.  Mine usually go something like this:  I’m in my classroom a week or two before school starts, getting my room ready.  I’m hanging a bulletin board and turn around to find all of my students already there.  Sometimes there aren’t enough desks for all of them, other times not enough books, but always I am not prepared and I begin to panic.  I don’t know how the dreams end because I always wake myself, heart pounding, and remind myself that I still have X number of days left and that I will be prepared by the time they all show up.

In my opinion, teachers have one of the hardest jobs in the world.  And there is always so much to do and not enough time to do it, no matter how prepared we feel by that first day of school.  Preparation and planning are important, but you know what?  They are not most important, especially not to our students.  What matters most to kids is that their teachers are caring, compassionate individuals who are also passionate about teaching and about their subject matter.  A caring, compassionate, passionate teacher can influence students in both amazing and unexpected ways.

Can I share a personal example with you?  Some of you who know me personally know that every year my family travels to a different part of the United States to explore that part of the country and see as many national parks as we can.  So far we have visited 45 different states and about 60 national parks.  This year our trip took us to the eastern part of the country to places like the Smoky Mountains, Congaree National Park, and the outer banks of North Carolina.  The majority of this year’s trip, however, was spent at Revolutionary War and Civil War battlefields.  This was not a trip we had originally planned on taking, but was inspired by my daughter’s 8th grade history teacher.  You see, she had a teacher who was so passionate about history, who taught with humor, and who took an interest in his students.  In turn, my daughter became excited about American history and begged us to go visit the sites of the battles she had learned about.  Because of that teacher, our whole family has taken an interest in history.  What an impact he is having on his students!

We visited 12 different battlegrounds.  We ended our vacation at Antietam, the site of the bloodiest day in American history.

As teachers, we all have the power to impact students’ lives.  As you are preparing to go back to school, I want to encourage you not to get bogged down in some of those details that stress you out (or cause anxiety dreams), but focus on what will really make a difference for your students…and that is YOU…a caring, compassionate, passionate teacher who inspires children to learn!

A highlight for the kids was finding where Stonewall Jackson’s arm was buried.
At Arlington National Cemetery we were able to pay tribute to one of my college friends who was killed in the war with Iraq.

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  1. Amy Rudd

    May I share your blog post with the entire staff of my school? It’s fabulous! Thank you for writing it…you are so right!

  2. Laura

    I, too, have those dreams of not being ready! I think that no matter how much we prepare, there’s always more that we want to do. You’re right that showing your students that you care about them and what you are teaching them is much more important than what your room looks like!:)

  3. Annemarie

    Amy–yes, of course you may share. Read the next blog entry called the Power to Teach–you will probably want to share this poem. I didn’t write it, so I can’t take credit for it, but it’s too good not to share.

    Laura–I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who has these dreams!

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