Wednesday, December 28, 2011

And so the nightmares begin...

I get them before each new semester. They are full of anxiety and futility. Usually not a full month before the semester, but the last semester was a particularly rough one. 

In the nightmare, nothing was completed – the lab, the syllabus – nothing had been copied. The power was out in the room. It was full of students I’d already had in previous semesters, and some others I didn’t know. The previous students were good ones in real life, but they were awful here. None of the markers would write on the white board and it was about a thousand degrees in the room. People kept walking in and walking out, some people were watching TV(?), others singing. NO ONE would listen to anything I said. 

I even tried to leave the room but for some reason I couldn’t. There were only a few minutes of class left, though most people had walked out. I was going to tell the department head I was quitting. She had already told me (in real life) that I could leave whenever as the position is easily filled. 

Then I woke up thinking about all of the things I need to do for next semester. I’m tiiiiiired. Yawn. Share your nightmare stories! I can’t be the only one...right?


  1. I have a standard nightmare that starts a month or so before term. In the nightmare the term has already started, two or three weeks ago, and I've forgotten and not shown up at all. Or I've been showing up to teach two classes but had completely forgotten that I'm supposed to be teaching 3 classes. Only I can't even find the third class and now it's 3 weeks into term and I haven't even begun teaching them but I've never been in this building before and the class isn't where it's supposed to be and now it's nearly the end of term! And what will my chair say when they find out that I haven't even been showing up for the class! Also there's another class meeting in the classroom and my class has vanished!

    And then the weasels come!

  2. My nightmare is that I had an emotionally draining semester but nonetheless I am working throughout the winter break. Nobody else is in the building. Everybody is having a better holiday than I am. I'll let you know when I wake up.

  3. I teach courses in, oh, a visually-heavy corner of Hamster Weaving History, and thus feckin' PROJECTORS-- digital and old school slide projectors-- feature heavily in my recurring nightmares. The bulb's dead. I don't have the right cable. This doohickey cable doesn't fit in the wingding plug. Also, we're having an exam starting, oh, now, and there's no copier paper in the abandoned office but dark green A6 or something, and I'm trying to stall but the students are approaching mutiny.
    I'm also still having job market interview nightmares. And the "I forgot to drop calculus and the final's tomorrow" dream.

  4. I'm always supposed to be giving a final exam and I can't get to the classroom (sometimes the stairs leading up to the classroom have disappeared, or I can't find the classroom no matter how many times I walk up and down the hallway looking for it). I'm not sure why it would matter if I simply didn't give them a final exam.

    Hah, Beaker, you're always entertaining and oh-so-right!

  5. It's funny that you posted this, because I had one of my end-of-the-semester stress dreams last night. We don't start back until late January, and so I'm not sure why I had it last night -- these usually happen during finals week.

    This particular dream featured the last lecture of the semester. I didn't have the correct notes with me, and I kept getting lost and mixed up and forgetting what I needed to cover for the final exam. It was awful.

    My other stress dream hearkens back to my undergrad days. The setting is the last week of class in the last semester of my senior year. I am signed up for a History course (it's always History) that I need to graduate, but I forgot to go to class, all semester. I've just remembered, and now I have to make up a semester's worth of work in one week. But, I can't find the room, and once I do find it, the class is over for the day. My textbook and notes are missing, and I can't seem to get started on the paper. That one always wakes me up in a cold sweat.

  6. I have this recurring nightmare that I'm about to be drafted to be Chair of the Department of Physics again, even though I got only $200/month extra the last time I did it. And I get no breaks from teaching, because no one else can teach my courses, and they're the big service courses that the department needs to survive, with 80+ students in the physics course for engineers and 100 students in the astronomy course for non-majors, plus a course on astrophysics because for our majors, who are whining that they want to complete astronomy minors. And we have dickhead administrators who constantly yammer at us about how we teach the big courses, even though they don't know doodley-squat about the subjects: I ought to scream, "Academic freedom!" And I don't get any break from research: my best student ever is finishing up, I have to beat results out of the next student, and the third one can't make up his mind whether to stay or to go, so much for planning workflow. And that, as Chair, I'm going to have to make all kinds of hard decisions about whose programs to cut, with the results that just about all of my friends will hate me, but whenever I try to share the decisions with them they wriggle away, and we have already laid off all our part-time faculty so we might have to start on our full-time instructors, all of whom have served us well for over ten years and without whom teaching loads for the rest of us are going to increase substantially, and all of it isn't because of any resource shortage, but because of a few hundred greedy people on Wall Street.

    And then I wake up, and all of the dream is true! It sure beats the one about being a postdoc again, though.


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