The Life of Bon: The Honeymoon is Over

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

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.

Originally posted October 17, 2011.
Still applicable today.


  1. You are a great teacher and a reminder of us all that teachers do the work of Gods. Seriously. Whoever said "those who can't, teach" was dead wrong!!

  2. I lost my best friend my sophomore year of high school and I had a teacher that did the same thing for me. And I'll tell ya what, that moment is stuck in my mind for probably forever and that teacher and I are still very, very close. She prayed with/for me and held me while I bawled and it has become a really special bond. Cherish it!

  3. Those days of being a strict teacher were not my favorite, but looking back I'm glad I have the guts to stand up to teenagers. You'd be surprised how many grown women are afraid of confronting their misbehavior at the park, the movies, the store, etc.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your loss at CopperHills. It always seems like you guys have more than your fair share of heartache.

  4. You are soooooo right! And I am now in tears. How is it that teaching is such a emotional rollarcoaster/hate-love relationship?!?

    Delightfully Dunn

  5. I had a friend die while I was at school and had a teacher just like you hug me until I could hug no more...and I still remember it today as one of the most precious moments during that time. That hug probably meant more to that girl than what you realise...

  6. I just got a little bump in my throat while reading this. So sad!
    And on another note, I don't know how you have the patience to do this.
    Well done!

  7. I am so sorry that your school lost a student. That is so hard and such a difficult challenge for kids to understand how fragile life is..and sometimes even a harsh reminder for us big kids.

    On a brighter note...I so think you should go to school dressed like the picture above. MAJOR RESPECT!! :)

    why am I always nervous posting a comment here...I'm afraid I will get it send back to me with red marks on my bad grammar!! :)

  8. Thank you, Bonnie, for your willingness to take our kids in, to show them that there is someone who cares, for being one of those teachers we hear about but seem to be in short supply these days. That is what gives me hope for our schools, that there are still teachers like you for our kids. Thanks!

  9. That was beautiful to read. I am switching careers and finishing up my last two classes of my MAED and then student teaching, and I wonder about the real lives/thoughts of teachers. This was a refreshing read. Thanks.

  10. This is such an inspiration to read! I about started crying just reading it, good luck getting through the rest of week seven :)


  11. Ahhh I would go crazy with the disrespectful kids. Just know that even the bad ones are probably secretly grateful for you.