When You Wake Up Dreaming About Teaching

When you wake up dreaming about teaching, going through the lesson again and again — each time more carefully — when you dream about the feedback you’re asking students to give, you know you’re trying to sleep late.

This morning I dreamed I had taught my lesson on multiple ways to determine the main idea of a passage and was asking my students, shadows hovering in the background of the thinking spotlight of my dream, for feedback on 1) clear instruction tied to the goal, 2) time to practice the skill, 3) opportunity for discussion with partners or team, and 4) time to self rate the effort and reflect on the learning.

Blink.  “I’m dreaming about teaching,” I mumble, pushing myself to awaken by sliding feet to the floor, my lesson feedback shredding to mental pieces as I pull up the cell shades one by one.  It’s Saturday.  The backyard is still under a bit of fog and there’s a hummingbird tasting at the tall, blue spires of the Pride of Maderia.

I am dreaming of improving, perfecting my teaching.  “I must be an addict,” I think to myself as I get the French press ready to make Columbian coffee.  I mean addicted to teaching and learning here, although I could go into my coffee habit.

When you wake up dreaming about teaching, when you dream about teaching to stay asleep you know you’re hooked.  Teaching is an art not easily unravelled.  It is a game of wit and nerve.  And, no matter how great some moments of teaching go, there are always places and ways to improve.

Well there you have it.  Teaching is a whole lot like writing.  Getting ideas, evaluating plans, making sketches to organize.  Trying out things, mixing the old with new.  Doing a long, hard discovery draft, which is like a teaching inquiry.  And revising.  Looking for the central idea.  Revising while you write, revising later when you feel you won’t quit or kill it, revising after you revise.  Stepping back.  Waking up dreaming about it. Once in awhile romantically comparing it to wine tasting.  Sometimes thinking you need therapy.

And finally going live.  Publishing.  “Hi kids.  Come on in, get your materials, and let’s get started….Yesterday I showed you two ways to find the main idea, which is really classifying information.  Today I’m going to show you two more ways to reach the same goal.  Are you ready?”

6 responses to “When You Wake Up Dreaming About Teaching”

  1. Wow…I am retired now…..but those words describe teachers…so much. Thanks so much. Jackie http://familytrove.blogspot.com/


  2. This happens to me … a lot, and then the dreaming often continues on my way to school, and then I am adapting old lessons, creating new ones, and using the inspiration of the dream to revamp something. Sometimes, that feels like walking on a wire; Other times, I realize just how perfect that thinking has been and how grateful I am to have remembered it. The teacher’s brain never stops, I guess.


  3. You live every moment. It seems the only time you have to process and reflect is in your dreams. You absolutely work overtime.


  4. This is so very eloquent, your words are so tender, yet accurate. I read this and it epitomizes who I am not only as a teacher, but as a person. It also makes me feel normal to know that I’m not the only one that dreams constantly about school, about the lessons, about the students.

    THe act of teaching is one that is forever being refined, re-written, experimented with. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your dreams, it resulted in a very special slice.

    Take Care.


  5. I love this! You capture what it truly means to be a teacher.


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