For three decades, I’ve had the habit of entering a classroom after the New Year to teach sophomores and seniors in high school. The night before, there is the inevitable “teacher dream”. For me, these are usually about executing a new lesson or passing out papers and giving instructions. Last night, the dream was how to teach a full essay for AP World History! That’s a challenge under the best of circumstances, and causes plenty of tossing and turning as a dream. I blame my friend and east coast AP World colleague for planting that seed.
As the saying goes with horse riding or cycling, “once you learn you never forget”. Getting “back in the saddle” after a two-week winter break seems a bit challenging at first. “What should we be studying?” “Why are we studying it?”, “Where are my materials?” “How does this old VCR work?” “What’s my password for my school computer, my grade book, my email?” Maybe you say, “You’ve been teaching too long”. Sometimes that thought crosses my mind too, but I’ve bumped into colleagues of all ages in the hallway before school, at the coffee pot and in the copy room this morning. We all have somewhat dazed expressions on our faces.
Old habits die-hard. By lunchtime it will seem old hat. We’ll be back on track. We will be tired tonight though. There’s an inner tension as I remember how to do my job. The same look is on the faces of the students. There is nothing quite like looking into the faces of students eager to be back, ready for the routine. After a few minutes together, we are all back on track. The habits of teacher and student kick in.