Thursday, March 29, 2012

“A School Dream”

Me during my early years teaching!

         I pulled my car into the fenced enclosure, neatly sliding into the correct slot, my assigned number. Walking around to the passenger side door, I heaved out my black tote, hitching it onto my right shoulder as I leaned forward to heft out the plastic crate filled with essays and a class set of journals. My muscles screamed in protest by the time I reached the Administration building where I quickly checked my box for any important messages, so I set everything down long enough to rotate my shoulders, fill my pitcher with ice, and chat with a colleague about the day ahead.
         Cutting across the patio, I nudged open the glass doors and trudged up a short flight of stairs, turning to the left towards my classroom. Outside my door waited an impatient group of students.
         “Geeze, Miss. Can’t they do something about your schedule?”
         “You’re always late!”
         I ignored their lament as they recited the same complaints every morning. My work day didn’t start at my own classroom on my home campus. Instead, my day began on our nine-ten campus teaching a career studies class to freshmen. I “borrowed” a teacher’s room on that campus every day, and her resentment at being displaced meant I had to schlep supplies back and forth because she forbade my students from using her tape and staples. She’d taped little X marks on the floor where I had to make certain the desk legs hit. Her rows must be perfectly straight. Because I had to leave these freshmen five minutes before the end of the class period to drive to my other campus, an administrator asked this other teacher to step in so the students would have supervision. This teacher refused, though. I reasoned that my seniors were capable of waiting in the hallway a few minutes every morning. Unlike the freshmen, I doubted they’d start throwing punches or vandalizing anything. However, they did like to complain.
         My key turned quickly in the lock. One student grabbed the crate while the others filed into the room. Someone flipped on the lights while another student pulled out the bin that contained the class’s journals. The instructions written on the board before I left the afternoon before meant these seniors settled down quickly while I caught my breath.
         The windowless room with its dark-paneled walls and orange carpet constantly carried a scent of mildew. I’d tried to warm the room with overflowing pots of philodendron and scented candles. I’d stapled an old bedspread from ceiling to floor along one corner of the room and placed a small couch with pillows and a floor lamp to create a reading/writing nook. The room, too tiny for the number of desks it contained, didn’t feel cramped because I’d clustered the them into groupings of various sizes.     

            Last night, I found myself back in that old classroom. I hadn’t step foot into that space in eighteen years, yet in my dream last night I lugged my tote and crate, swept up those stairs, and greeted my students. I caught the wafting aroma of mold and cranberry candles. I scanned the instructions on the board on the unit on Abnormal Psychology. And for a moment, I relived in a vivid dream a moment that represented millions of moments from my teaching career.
            This school dream marked the first return to work from my subconscious mind. I don’t know why this particular scene surfaced, but the memory reminded me of the joy teaching brought into my life for many years. I didn’t mind teaching five preparations across two different campuses because those seniors sitting outside my door resented losing five minutes of instructional time. They longed to delve into Freud, Skinner, and Bandura. So if I drift back to work in my sleep, it’s wonderful that I slip back into one of my best memories where teaching school was a dream.

 Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

No comments:

Post a Comment