The Life of Bon: The Honeymoon is Over

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Honeymoon is Over

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting much about my students lately.

I'm mad at them.

Let me explain.  There is a cycle in any school year.  The first six weeks are teaching bliss.  Kids are on their best behavior, they're excited to be back in school, they get their homework in, and they can't get over the fact that I look just like one of them. 

The honeymoon, if you will.

It is around week six or seven that the hoodlums show their true colors. 
Spit wads start flying.
Kids begin arguing with me.
Cell phones magically appear.
Assignments go missing.
Students cease to look at me with complete awe and respect when I teach.   

The honeymoon is over. 

The good news is that after about two or three weeks of this hoop-lah, the kids realize that I do mean business, they can't get away with murder, and that I'm not going to take their crap.  And then they go back to being good students for the rest of the year.  They just need to test me for a bit, see how much they can get away with.  I have to be mean and lay down the law until they understand the boundaries of the classroom and we can all go back to business as usual. 

A happy marriage for all of us.

Right now we are right smack in the middle of week six and seven. 

The testing period.
I was reading/lecturing/teaching/doing one of the many things I do at the front of the class and could hear little whisperings.  I looked up just in time to see a kid in the front row mouth "F*** you!" to someone on the other side of the room. 

"Leave the room.  Now.  Wait in the hall and I'll be out to talk to you a minute.  Go." I don't have a lot of tolerance for the F word in my classroom.  He left.

When I went out to talk to him, he turned his back to me, gave me a lot of attitude and yelled, "I don't want to hear anything from you!  Don't talk to me!"

"Fine.  You don't want to talk to me?  You can talk to the principal."  And away he went.

Those are the kinds of things that I've been dealing with as of late. Meaning that I've been an ornery teacher. It is during these two testing weeks that I wonder why in the world I ever became a teacher.

Add on to that that I didn't get a raise this year.
Add on to that that I actually took a pay decrease because they aren't allowing me to teach the extra class that I taught last year.
Add on to that that it's dark as night when I drive to work at 6:30 in the morning.
Add on to that that I have a million poorly written papers to grade.

And, Voi-la! You've got a woman who (temporarily!) hates her job.

Monday after school, a popular senior cheerleader was killed in a traffic accident.  As you can imagine, the mood was somber in the hallways yesterday.  In the middle of third period, one of my favorite students, Lara, came in with tears in her eyes.  It was her best friend who died.  I gave her a big hug and she didn't let go.  You know those hugs that are real hugs and you hug and hug and don't want to stop hugging because there is so much emotion behind the hug? (How many times can you say hug in once sentence?)  It was one of those.  We were just sitting there hugging away right in front of third period.  But third period is full of smart cookies- they read the situation and just sat quietly and let us have a moment.

I thought for a minute about what to say to comfort Lara.  But here's one thing I know, there's very little you can say to make someone feel better when someone close to them has died. 

But "I love you" helps.  So I told Lara that I loved her.

She looked at me with tears rolling down her cheeks.  "Thanks so much, Ms. Blackburn.  I'm so glad you teach here."

And that, my friends, is what makes it all worth it. 

Even during the testing period.