I had an interesting dream recently. In it, I was with my fourth grade class sitting on the lawn at Case High School. (I can’t explain why. You know how dreams work…) While I was teaching my students, a very tall man walked by. A close friend was also sitting with my class. She spoke in a very friendly way to him, as she does in real life to almost anybody. He took umbrage with whatever she said and started to attack her as well as my students. I stepped up and tried to protect my kids. He swung at me, narrowly missing. As this was happening, Case students suddenly streamed out of the building. The next thing I knew, I was protecting my fourth graders by huddling under a tree. That was where the dream ended.
Now, there are several bits of my life in this: I taught at Case in the past, a Case student punched me in my face a couple years ago outside my current building, and, as some of my readers may recall, I recently returned to the classroom after three months off due to a stress related seizure. Combine these incidents with a natural instinct to protect my students, and you have it!
My return to the classroom after three months off has been a mixed bag of emotions and reactions. My class had experienced a revolving door of adults in charge. My main goal was to reestablish routine and an air of respect and learning. The first three days went very well. The fourth day? Not so well. Since then, we have had moments of clarity and brilliance counterbalanced with not so much clarity and brilliance. Many adults in my building have commented on how much improvement they have observed. We made it through an entire library period more successfully than ever. The same goes for most of our specialist classes, music, art and gym, with a few ruts in the road, but showing an overall improvement.
I’ve had days when I was ready to file for long term disability these past two weeks and days of elation because we have shown so much improvement. What it comes down to is my dream. I took it as a symbol telling me to hang in there to “protect” my students and continue their learning as long as I can, with hopes to finish my career in June and go out smiling and strong. My fiancé, my neurologist and many colleagues tell me frequently that it isn’t worth my health. I think I can handle it as I am more keyed in to my feelings and signs. I am exercising, including yoga, and relieving stress in several ways. If I left, I know my kids would “survive” the year, but I am hoping they can thrive.