Monday, September 10, 2007

In their own private canoes

It's 1 a.m., and I just woke up from a dream about my students. First time this has happened this school year. Probably not the last. And this I deserve. Yesterday, I was talking to a first-year teacher, and she said that she gets these all-night dreams about her new job.

"Ah, first-week-of-school stress," I said.

"Yeah, don't you hate when that happens? You wake up tired, like you haven't slept at all."

"Nah, I love those kinds of dreams. They sometimes help me figure things out," I said. "But it doesn't happen to me anymore. No stress."

So, let's see if I remember what happened in this dream, which I'm gonna say has nothing at all to do with stress:

I'm out canoeing with one of my classes. It's a beautiful afternoon. At one point, I want them to gather together for a couple of minutes, just so I can tell them about their grades after the first week in my class. I'm proud because I thought of a new evil plan: I'm going to pretend I'm really mad at a few students. I'll call their names and declare that they are troublemakers. "These seven kids," I'm planning to say, "currently have an average higher than 100 percent in my class. And I want to know, what's wrong with you seven? Are you trying to ruin my reputation as a tough teacher?" In truth, there already are a couple of students failing after the first week, but I want to focus on the ones doing well. I want to acknowledge their hard work early on (too often we teachers focus on the ones not doing the work and just assume the hard workers will continue with no recognition). But I also want everyone to see that an A+ is possible.

The plan is to continue: "What's your secret to getting good grades? Are you paying me or something?" I'm hoping that they'll say no, there's no secret, that they just did the work. Funny as it sounds, the students failing probably just don't know how to be a good student. "OOOHHH ... I'm supposed to actually turn in those things you've been talking about?"

Anyway, this is all still in the dream. I really make plans like this in dreams, then hope I remember them in the morning, but I rarely write things down so I rarely remember. This one I should remember, even this part:

I'm trying to round up the kids, but they're all in their own private canoes, and only one or two stop to hear what I have to say. I'm upset because the rest are not listening. And because they're spoiling my planned rant. But then I realize that it's such a beautiful day, and it's my fault for letting them go off on their own without a plan. Oh yeah, I just remembered this detail: It looks like we're in the Florida Keys, canoeing around trees and vegetation, watching all sorts of sea life. Why would they stop to listen to me?

And that's about when I woke up.

I have a "dream" book in my classroom. I'll have to look this up, find out what a dream means when it's about canoes and students not listening. Meanwhile, is there a dream expert out there that can help?

24 Hours Later: Well, it's happened again. Fell asleep a little early last night, because I was tired from a long day and a lack of sleep, and now it's 1 a.m. again and I'm awake again. Don't remember any dreams this time, thankfully. Oh, but I'm happy to report that my evil little plan worked--the good kids were very freaked out when I called their names and said they're in trouble. Then, a big explosion of relief when I gave them my line about having a 100+ percent average. Students that really care about their grades are just so cute.


jenska said...

It will be interesting to see if it encourages some of those on the cusp of getting good grades to work a little harder. Do you ever have kids in your classes who think it's lame to get called out for doing well?

appopt said...

Among some students, I think there is pressure not to do well. Nobody wants to be called a nerd. But I've got a few tricks to make even the least motivated student try to do well. You'll have to stay tuned for those stories ...

Anonymous said...

I am definately a psychology dream expert. In this dream the water represents an overflow of somthing. Not being able to control or contain your inner thoughts about somthing. Usually it's a symbol of heavy intense emotion. The fact that you are on canoes show that an exagerration of some sort is needed perhaps to prove a point. A dependence on some
factor outside of yourself or your students.The students not listening because there's so much happening around them shows a hiddent fear of competing with their lives that perhaps are challenged by things that might be more urgent than the class and you're afraid that leaves them at a disadvantage to the amount of knowledge they can gather if they could just free themselves. The idea in the dream is not a symbol of any sort but a motor sensory function of a different part of the brain- the left hemisphere that concentrates on the logical side of things. The fact that you remember the idea long enough to jot it down definately reaches the hippocampus where it is stored as a short term memory.