I’m normally relaxed about this stuff, but I’m going back into the classroom today, and I haven’t taught anything since May 2017. What if I forgot how? I could hardly believe it, but I woke up in the middle of the night with my guts in knots and feeling nauseous, all because I have to start teaching a course I’ve taught about 30 times before. Also, it’s really cutting into my spider time.

If you never hear from me again after 2pm today, it’s because I stood in front of 44 gimlet-eyed students and melted into the floor.

(Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine and will be swinging right into the rhythm of the course today. I’m just reminded of the stress of public speaking and performance that I normally take for granted because I’ve just had a relaxing year without that stress, and it felt good.)


  1. Sean Boyd says

    You could bring some of the spiders with you. Putting harnesses and leashes on them might be challenging, though.

  2. PaulBC says

    I was a terrible teacher back when I had to do it a few times. I could say it was nervousness at public speaking, but actually, I was too young and stupid to prepare my lectures. The latter is fixable, but I’m still glad my current career rarely requires any speaking in front of an audience.

  3. says

    It’s cell biology, not arachnology. I might squeeze in some discussion of spider silk in the section on protein properties, though…that’s about two weeks from now.

  4. magistramarla says

    Try not teaching full time for 20 years! I spent that time raising kids and following my Air Force officer around the country, so I subbed when I could. I helped to open a brand new high school in 2002, and was the Latin teacher there for 7 years.
    I prepped for those classes the entire summer of 2002, and had many nightmares about actually teaching again. It took me a while, but I was finally comfortable with saying “I’m the Latin teacher”.
    Damned health problems made me quit teaching, but I still miss it. We’re about to move into a neighborhood with a community center down the street that offers after school programs and homework help to neighborhood kids. I just might volunteer so that I can work with some teens again. Perhaps I’ll start a beginner’s Latin class and tell the kids to watch their English and History grades go up!

  5. numerobis says

    My mother, retired a few years now, still has stress dreams about teaching. It strikes me this might be PTSD.

  6. PaulBC says


    It took me a while, but I was finally comfortable with saying “I’m the Latin teacher”.

    I’m not sure if this is what you’re getting at, but imposter syndrome is an occupational hazard in nearly any profession. When I taught a couple of computer science classes, I was a grad student and certainly had the ability to grasp the material I needed to present (but not always extemporaneously). I flip-flopped between thinking I could wing it and actually being up there thinking “They’re gonna figure out I’m not a real professor.”

    Even as a software engineer with 20 years experience, I sometimes expect to be “discovered” as an imposter.

  7. says

    When I was a science student some 40 years ago among the two best lecturers I had were biology lecturers. With both of them their lectures were entertaining and information packed often with interesting asides and sometimes live demonstrations to grab our interest. I got to know them quite well and both of them prior to giving a lecture were a bundle of nerves, both chain-smoking beforehand. They were both named Dave but because one was much older than the other everyone called them “Dad and Dave” after characters in an old Australian novel and radio serial.