That Old Retirement Dream

Second Grade, Southgate School 1962

Contrary to what you might think, my “retirement dream” isn’t about what my retirement will look like.  Been there.  Done that.  For the past seventeen years.

No.  My retirement dream is the actual, recurring dream I have periodically when I’m asleep — now that I am retired.  Not a nightmare, but definitely an anxiety dream.  It always involves me being hired to teach in a classroom in which the regular teacher (for undisclosed reasons) has not shown up.  It’s always a first or second grade with the kids at their desks waiting expectantly for the day to begin.  There are usually no supplies available, no roll book, no clue as to the expected curriculum and, last night, no coffee in the Teacher’s Room.

The dream is very close to the scenario I faced in 1961 when I reported for my first teaching job.  It was about this time of year and I had been contacted on a Saturday morning by the superintendent of the Hayward Unified School District.  A second-grade position was open if I could report to work Monday morning.

Second Grade Puppet Show, Southgate School 1962

He met me at the school that very afternoon.  We visited the classroom which had been stripped bare.  Not a bulletin board decorated.  Not a roll book or a class list.  Nothing to indicate what reading groups there might be or what the kids were studying in Social Studies or Health or… anything.  To compound matters, three stern looking PTA mothers were at the door on Monday morning and sat in the back of the room all day to “observe.”  It was a real-life nightmare.  It wasn’t until the following school year that I learned that my predecessor had had a nervous breakdown due in large part to the Three Furies who apparently had been watching her like a hawk all year.

I arrived at school early on my second day, told (yes, snippy second-day teacher that I was) the principal that I did not want those women or any other visitors in my room during class time.  He argued with me but complied… sort of.  I had to put up with him being in there every day, apparently so he could report to them. I’m happy to say that he was not at the school the following year.  But I was.

Sydney with Second Grade Student, Southgate School 1962

In my dream last night, I was passing out paper to each student and instructing them to write their name on one side and draw a self-portrait on the other.  (I’m not sure where I was going with that.)  At one table, a boy said to his neighbor, “That’s not your name!” and looked at me hopefully, like maybe his ‘friend’ would get in trouble.  “You can use any name you want,” I said, “as long as you spell it correctly!”

I don’t know where I was going with that, either!  But, it has possibilities.  I wonder if some kids would behave better or learn more easily if they had a different name.  Do our names set some parameters and expectations?  Who knows.  I can’t even figure out what I’m anxious about if, indeed, that’s what prompted the dream.  Maybe I was just looking forward to my morning coffee.

One Response to “That Old Retirement Dream”

  1. Jane E Smith says:

    I have two recurring dreams. One is that I can’t open my locker on the first day of junior high. The second is in college, the night before finals, I discover a bunch of text books that I have never opened. Neither of these events happened in real life and leave me wondering what the hidden meaning is. Jane

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