Professional Development Opinion

When the School Dreams Start Earlier Than Usual

By Starr Sackstein — July 29, 2016 2 min read
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Summer time is when we recharge, relax and take time off from teaching, at least this is what many non-educators think when they think of the education profession.

And there is some of that going of for sure, but most of us, are always working on some level. As an English teacher I can seldom read a book without annotating, imagining how I would teach it or considering questions I’d like to ask to begin dialogues.

In addition to summer reading, there are countless EdCamps and training and then the informal meetings and side-projects that are all ancillary to our primary job, but still developing us as educators.

We spend time networking and worrying and sometimes that worry or excitement shows up in our sub-conscious. It’s typical (in NY at least since school starts in after Labor Day) that the school dreams start in August. After we’ve had a month to “relax” and really start ramping up for the next school year. It’s like our brains way of preparing for the mental and physical demands of the profession.

This year, I have more to be anxious/excited about.

I start a job at a new school, in a new position after being at my old school for nearly a decade. Although I pushed a lot of boundaries there, I was comfortable. Familiar with my colleagues and the student body, I was apt to take risks and keep moving forward. It worked.

It worked for a long time.

Then it stopped working and I knew that it was time to move on.

My old summer dreams echoed this as they always had to do with being late for the first day of school. Always. For years now, they haven’t changed.

Like our students, challenge is what drives us to continue growing as learners and educators and once we become too comfortable or too familiar, we greatly diminish our ability to really achieve more.

That being said, after signing the papers and having the full weight of my decision sink in, the dreams have begun.

Although I’m ready for this switch and I’m eager to learn new things, I’m scared I won’t do them well enough. The dreams play off of these worries, taunting my confidence and allowing anxiety to erode some potential enthusiasm.

I’m human and I am really good at what I was doing before. There is definitely something to be said for knowing you have achieved mastery in one area. Now it’s time to apply what I’ve learned at my old school to my new one and grow with my new position.

It’s normal to feel nervous about change. There are many moving parts and the unknown is always, well, unknown until it isn’t anymore. My subconscious understands this and allows me to work through the concerns while I sleep, so that I can wake up and be the best version of myself when the time comes.

We continually tell our students to take risks to keep growing as learners and although we model that on smaller scales in the positions we live in, there comes a time when kids graduate and move onto something completely new and adults have similar opportunities if they want them. I’m one of those people.

So I invite the dreams knowing that it means change is on the horizon. I plan what I can and ask the right questions to be as prepared as I can be. Strategically exploring to be able to walk into the new school year with open eyes and approach it all with the same excitement and fervor as I would a new adventure.

Then the dreams will adjust and when I remember them, I’ll take note and use what I learn to just keep moving forward.

How do you cope with change? Does your sub-conscious play a role? What’s your most memorable summer back to school dream? Please share.

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.