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6 of 12

2012 August 27
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by Mike Vial

Last night was my fifth gig of 12 in a row. Over 20 this month. (And that’s with the week off from the wedding.)

I’ve been blessed with a lot of work, but I was tired driving home from Lansing last night. I’ve put about 700 miles on my car this week alone. However, I woke up today reenergized! A little past 9 AM, Natalie was already working on journalism in her office, the dogs were playing chase in the house, and coffee was already waiting in the kitchen. I stumbled out of bed, wondering, “Where am I?”

You see, I keep having these dreams of going back to teaching. The dreams are from many perspectives:

  1. Being a first year teacher again,
  2. Not being a teacher but being expected to teach anyway,
  3. Waking up late for the first day of school,
  4. Grading papers late in the night,
  5. Being a high school student again in my own classroom!

Have you been seeing the back-to-school signs and Facebook posts, too? From a teacher’s perspective, you feel a tital wave approaching. You are looking for both your surfboard and life jacket.

It’s odd to express this, but the stress of being a musician on the road doesn’t even come close to the stress I felt from the teaching schedule. Dreaming about the classroom puts me in a panic again. I spent so much of my eight years being an English teacher under a pile of essays and sleep deprived. I loved working with kids and talking about writing and literature, but the classroom followed me home too often.

Last night after my set at the Pump House, I met some teachers in the audience who thanked me for my hard work. I said, “Oh, being a musician doesn’t feel like work very often!” They replied, “We mean for your teaching years, too. We teach math in the Lansing area…”

These kind teachers admitted recognizing that English teachers have it the hardest in the field. And last night I dreamed of those essays again. Full on nightmare.

I’d like to remind everyone to give a teacher some positive vibes these next few weeks. The start to school is exciting, but the semesters in the classroom are a roller coaster: The grading feels never ending; the curriculum and testing requirements are always changing; the politics,¬†distracting; the classrooms are too crowded…Yet most teachers don’t lose sight of their mission.

Teachers are the best people on this world. I miss my colleagues, and I’ll be thinking of them a lot during my next 600 miles on the road through Michigan.

Good luck with your start of the school year.

The last view of room 227 before saying goodbye.

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