Pop Quiz: August Anxiety

At the beginning of every August as my summer draws to a close and the first day of school approaches the dreams start.  They come once or twice a week at first, but by this time halfway through August they are every night and usually multiple times a night.  They are not so much nightmares, more like nightponies.  Enough to wake me up in frustration, but not enough to scare me awake.  They are the manifestation of my back to school anxiety.

What do I have to be anxious over?  Just learning 130 names, learning personalities and learning styles, deciding what to change from last year’s plan and what to keep, will I have enough books? Will I have enough seats?  These are all little things, but these and a hundred other little things contribute to these dreams.

Some of the dreams are classic and universal; I’m not wearing shoes, or I’m still in my pajamas.  Most are school specific.  I am taking my class someplace, a field trip or to an assembly and I lose a student.  I search and find them only to realize that a different student has disappeared and the dream repeats.  My most common dream, one that I usually have every night in the week before school starts, is that I have lost control of my class and I cannot complete my lesson.  Nothing works to get my class back on track.  I run around putting out figurative fires, but can never get the whole class back on task.

In last night’s version of this dream I was getting the class back on task until loud opera music began to play.  Alright I told the class, we cannot think with this music so loud. Please turn it off.  No one did.  I saw a radio and I turned it off, but the music still played without skipping a beat.  Looking around I saw another radio and when I turned it off the music still played.   My frustration growing I see another radio; I turn it off only to still hear the music.  I wake with frustration and a growing feeling of admiration for the coordination it took to pull off this prank.

So my question for you today is Do you have back to school anxiety?  How does it manifest for you? How do you cope?

The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon (ET)

Featured Image School Bokeh by Ryan M.

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Jennifer teaches science in a public school in Pennsylvania. She lives there with her husband and two dogs.


  1. August 13, 2014 at 6:52 pm —

    My anxiety is especially strong this year, as I start my first full-time teaching job in a subject (Physics) that I have never taught before! Luckily, the nerves may put a pit in my stomach that is very uncomfortable, but that pain keeps me preparing and preparing until I’m more than ready. I’m grateful that my nerves tend to serve me instead of paralyze me. But I definitely have dreams. Last month, I swear I was lucid dreaming in a half-asleep state, and had the same dream 25 times in three hours: I was in an unfamiliar school, late for a class that I couldn’t find and wasn’t prepared to teach, and faceless administrators were wandering the halls ready to judge me with disapproval. I just -know- that I’m going to be fired.

    The only thing that helps with these style of dreams is to wake up enough to tell myself, “Hey, it’s Sunday” or “Hey, school doesn’t start for another week, I can’t possibly be late to class!” Then I can ignore the dreams as best I can without feeling too sick. I’ve got a well organized list of things to do, and I take things off (and put things on) every day. That visible progress helps a lot in making me feel ready and safe.

    Cross your fingers for me!

  2. August 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm —

    To tie this post to jodee’s latest, my greatest fear is my handwriting will have degenerated to total scribble levels. It’s never good, but I’m out of practice for writing on a board, and that little lump on my middle finger from writing on paper has almost disappeared!

    Seriously, this semester will be the first in a long while where I don’t have any new preps, like poor Roger, and I’m not an overload! This may be giving me a false sense of security…

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