I Sure Did Learn My Lesson!

I had a dream this morning from which I begrudgingly awoke.  In fact, I’m not sure I woke up from it at all – it was one of those dreams that stay with you for a long time and actually changes you.  It was one of those dreams that you hope to have again very soon to see if new events unfold – like a drama on television that you just can’t seem to get enough of. Only, this dream was “mine”.  It was about me.  It revealed things in me that I had buried.  It piqued my curiousity and disrupted my thinking.

I was teaching again.

I was back in the classroom.

With “badass” kids whose lives were set on a self-indulgent, anti-societal path at a young age.  So, in fact, they were only “badass” to society – not to me.  To me, they were wonderful.  They were inspiring.  They were in dire need of a mother or a father or a cheer-leader.  And that – in my dream – was me.

I can remember each student that was in my dream.  I forget the order in which they appeared to me, but I do remember each one of them.  It was my first day of school when I encountered the space in which I was asked to teach French:  a hallway.  It was a shared hallway with the Spanish class.  Not one of my students seemed to be gathered together to form the “French community”.  They were scattered and so I requested they come closer as I couldn’t raise my voice.  They did.  I knew I had already scored a point with them – at least they were curious enough to comply with my request.  The class didn’t last long as I tracked each one of them out of the class and into their issue(s).  Afterall, remember it was a dream.

One young woman, a beautiful young girl, explained to me that she wasn’t smart enough to learn French.  For some reason I knew she played hardball with others.  I explained to her that I knew she was smart enough.  “Why, miss?  How do you know?”

“Because you are badass.  And you have to be smart to be good at being a badass.”  I had disrupted her thinking.  I may not have prepped her for French as much as I had prepped her for life.

“Do you know what it’s like to have nothing, miss?”  asked another student I had chased out of the class, down the hall and into a back closet where, by the way, I found him wrapping gifts he had stolen from others to give to his family.  This young lad was one of “eleven”.  And those of you who know me, know how much that number makes me giggle – that Youtube clip always comes to mind where the two young Scottish lads are trying to operate a voice activated elevator.  Back to the boy.  I explained to him that I had taught so many students who had “nothing” growing up and how they had overcome such great obstacles to make their lives significant.  I named a few:  Adam, Stephanie, Carlie, Megan, Chris… of sooooo very many students I had come to know and respect.  After I had spoken, this young fellow looked at me with a look that told me I had disrupted his thinking.  I hadn’t taught him French, but I had already begun to help him change his life.

The one student that really stuck out for me was a very good looking young man who had used sex as his tool to avoid school and learning.  When he tried to accost me, I explained to him that he couldn’t.  “I have stage 4 ovarian cancer and have had so much of me already removed, he couldn’t take anything else from me.”  I remember the look as he left me alone to go to a quiet place and think.  He looked at me and smiled.  I knew I had disrupted his thinking. I knew he would learn from me and the lesson would change his life.

Another young woman had been nearly suffocated by her friends when a marquee tent had fallen on her (by accident?) and she was left to fend for herself.  I understood her anxieties and fears.  I talked about my own.  And how fears are not meant to control you, but to disrupt the way you think and set you on a different course.  She looked at me.

A young man had been trapped in a cage in the flat-bed of a truck – by his friends.  I called out his friends on him when I found them in the school.  I was not afraid of them.  I had nothing to lose by teaching them about life and the difference between right and wrong.  They were not happy with me – but they stopped chirping at me.

I encountered a teacher whose tactics were those of a dictator.  He made the Hile Hitler gesture to his students and they responded back. I called the teacher out on his gesture.  He was furious with me as were his students.  I explained to him how wrong he was to conduct himself in such a nature – I took it to the Human Rights representative of the school who smiled at me.  I didn’t know what that look meant, until the teacher came to try to intimidate me, fool me into thinking he was naive and didn’t know how “bad” his behaviour was.  I called him out on his nonsense.  I was not afraid.

And it carried on – that dream.  In no circumstance was I afraid.  I knew I was disturbing the bee’s nest of which was the school, but I knew that in this school – with all these students – there was honey.  They were good.  They just needed to know it.  I knew that was my job.

As I left the school that night, I looked up into a place that must have been the central meeting area – it seemed like a residential school.  Students were gathered there – I could see through the window.  I heard my name.  I knew they were talking about me.  I knew I had disrupted them.  Some were angry, some were confused, some were defending me, questioning me.

I was not afraid, rather, excited to get back to the school the next day and to finish what I had started.  I wanted to help them to believe in themselves and to believe the world could be a better place with them in it.  They were capable of doing great things – good things – beautiful things.

I wanted to teach.

I want to teach.

I am not a French teacher.  I am not an English teacher.  I never did teach geography, math, or history.  I taught about life.  I taught about self-worth.  I taught my students to be positive and to be great.  I taught them to believe in themselves.  At least – that was my goal – cloaked in curriculum so they thought they were learning about academics.

I know I disrupted their lives.  I hope it was in a good way.  I hope I made a difference.

I hope, one day, to be able to teach in the classroom again.  I miss it.  I miss my students.  For as much as I taught, I learned.  As arrogant as I was, I was humbled.  As confident as I thought I had been, they shook my foundations.  I am a better person for having taught. For having taught, I learned it is better to live with some disruption than to be sedated by routine.  The best lessons are learned when they are not expected.

This lesson, the one buried in my dream, caught me by surprise!

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About inmycorner

This blog began as an opportunity to tell my Dad's stories. I sat with him and the computer and together we told stories. It was a wonderful way to get to know Dad. He was 9. He and Mom had a wonderful life together and since she passed away a year and a half before him - Dad was ready to join her. I no longer tell his stories but have found stories of my own. The impetus to resume this blog was the discovery that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Since blogging had been so therapeutic for my dad and I to get through our grief, I felt maybe this would be a good outlet to process my situation. I also hoped it may serve as an outreach to anyone else who is facing this very ominous journey. So far, so good.
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17 Responses to I Sure Did Learn My Lesson!

  1. Gwen says:

    Never doubt that you certainly “disrupted” many lives, changed the path they were on and in doing so inspired those many to achieve their full potential. The rewards of this amazing vocation.

  2. This was a beautiful dream, Stacey and I’m sure it does mirror your real life; how you feel in your heart simply replaying itself in a dream sequence. I hope it’s okay with you if I reblog this? It’s precious and could inspire other teachers just starting out, facing these types in a classroom.

    • inmycorner says:

      Oh, my goodness, Christine – as always – I’m honoured you think this re-bloggable! I was so very lucky to have met the students I met. I had forgotten how meaningful it is to teach. If you think this post will inspire others – please DO share!

  3. Judy says:

    How beautiful! I love when a dream can lead you to a place where you might live it. I have no doubt that you are an amazing teacher and have inspired and touched so many students already!

    • inmycorner says:

      Right? Hope I can back into that dream tonight, Judy! Thank you – I guess my teaching is your music through which you touch and inspire so many! Blessings to you!

  4. jonaismith says:

    Hello Stacey, you may not remember me. I work the reception desk at the BLC for a short time in 2013.
    I was just temporary at the time and I was applying for positions with SCDSB. You and I were standing talking one day and I told you I had an interview.
    You said…I will help you…and you made time for me to prep me. I didn’t get that job but I did use the tools you taught me in other interviews and I have now been working in schools for 4 years. I don’t know if I ever had the opportunity to thank you for that. So thank you.

    Your blog posts are always inspiring, but this one stands out for me. This is so “Stacey”.

    I am now recovering from surgery for metastasized melanoma in my axilla and had a large lump of it removed from my breast. Prognosis is good for a full recovery as far as I know. I see my team at Sunnybrook next Monday for my first follow up. They say that the chance of recurrence is now 50 % as opposed to 8% when I passed the 5 year mark after my first run in with this awful disease. But I say, well that means there is a 50 % chance it won’t come back. 😊

    I believe in the power of prayer and I know there are people praying for me all over the world. People that I don’t even know, but like me, also believe prayer changes things.

    So, since I’ve been reading your blog this past year, I’ve been praying for you and will continue to.

    It would be great to see you again someday and have tea and a chat. I am house bound for a few weeks. I’m not allowed to drive until I have been cleared by my doctor. If it works sometime after that please contact me. My email is joanne.naismith@rogers.com

    Keep your head up, keep inspiring people and take care.

    Love,
    Jo-Anne

    • inmycorner says:

      Wow, Jo-Anne I most certainly do remember you! I was always so shocked you weren’t offered that job but I knew you’d get one eventually – I remember you because you were/ are outstanding. I am so sorry to hear of your troubles. No way round it – cancer sucks. Period. The inspiration you have gleaned from it, though, and the positive face is amazing. Bravo – it takes courage to get back up again, eh? I’m so glad my dream inspired you. Funny – to hear you say so “Stacey”. Don’t you wish you knew what people really thought of you when you know them? So glad too that you follow my blog. It’s good to know you are out there – inspires me to write again. I’d love to see you – will email you at the address you gave me. I believe in prayer too – and know that’s why I’m still around… I guess there is something else I’m intended to do. As do you. Thanks for giving my soul a boost today through your kind and supportive words. All the best to you for now and always – I’ll be in touch!

      Stacey

  5. Oh.My.Glorious.God. Stacey….you disrupted me today. Thank you.

  6. Reblogged this on Christine's Collection and commented:
    When I read this post from Stace L, I though what she writes could inspire other teachers just starting out on a new school year.

    • inmycorner says:

      Thank-you, Christine. I do wish I could return to teaching – such a rewarding profession! All the best to new teachers (and more seasoned ones too!) in this new up-coming adventure.

  7. granonine says:

    This is a remarkably detailed dream. Mine are never so complete. Lots of good lessons here. .

  8. Alice says:

    There you are! Here I am!

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