Since I started teaching, I have been plagued by nightmares of school during the holiday vacations. My second year teaching has been much better. The nightmares do not come nightly, only when I am away from the classroom for a period of time. Perhaps I fear returning to what I had last year. That the beautiful students that I spend my days with will be taken away and I will return to a self-conscious girl that knows she should not be in front of a classroom. This Winter Break I was struck by a powerful dream that I cannot shake.
I had to move my van because it was parked on the street. All the Teach for America teachers lived on that street. I knew I should not be driving this van. It was much too big for me, I could barely see out the front window. It was rusted out and I had no training as to how to drive this van. My field of view was so limited by the size of the van. I felt like a child playing with a gun. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be driving it, I had no right to be driving it, and I was eventually going to hurt some one. The feeling was in the pit of my stomach. I will just move the van and then be done with it. But as I drove forward down the street, a boy stepped out into the cross walk. I could barely see him pass in front of me, straining over the steering wheel to see, and it took me a minute before I saw the younger boy behind him. I slammed on the brakes, but the van was not stopping. It rolled for at least ten more meters and when it finally came to a halt I went running back down the street. I could see the boy’s body on the ground and the mother crying over him. I ran to her and tried to apologize, tell her it would not stop, that I shouldn’t have been driving it. But she just held me and told me it was ok. She held me and told me it was not my fault.
I am not trained to be a teacher. This system I claim to be a part of, our education system, it is broken and rusted out. From my classroom, my field of view is limited, and yet I continue to drive down the road, fearing that my arrogance is going to hurt some one. Death is not a far off consequence for my students. How many of my students will become a statistic? And could I avoid this if I were truly trained as a teacher? But the scariest part was not driving the van, or seeing the boy’s body on the road. It is the mother that just accepts it. She assures me it is not my fault. I want to tell her to be mad. Be mad that they are letting me teach your son. Be mad that they are settling for a broken, rusted out education system. I need her to be mad.