The Antidote to Burnout

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies
Image by windy_sydney via Flickr

Something incredible happened Friday.

It was the kind of thing that makes teaching so rewarding.

Hell, it’s the kind of thing teachers live for.

The most difficult student I teach did something that made my jaw drop.

And it was good.

It was very good.

She gave me a small bag with two homemade cookies.

My relationship with this girl was so bad that I would not have eaten the cookies for fear that they were somehow dangerous to me.

I ate the cookies. They were delicious.

I ate the cookies because of the note that came with them.

“Mr. Black – thank you for trying to teach me and improve my behavior.”

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15 Responses to The Antidote to Burnout

  1. Deven,

    I was so touched by your tweet about this the other day. It’s amazing how sometimes our most difficult students are the ones that need us the most and the ones that we touch the most.

    Quite the antidote for ANYTHING that ails you!

  2. Matt says:

    This is awesome. Quite the opposite of the time I had a girl spit in my water bottle when I stepped out the room. The other kids told me months after it happened. That’s when I realized just how antagonistic I had been towards this girl. Thanks for sharing that it can be the other way too.

    • Deven Black says:

      I’ve had students like that and I wouldn’t have put such behavior out of the potential of this girl, either. That’s what made this so rewarding. I also got some cookies and a nice note from one of the nicest, most accomplished students I’ve had the privilege to teach. Appreciated and happy to get it, but it didn’t have the same impact, not even close.

  3. Linda says:

    Awesome! Isn’t that why we get up every morning? You just never know when you will have one of those moments! Hooray for your student and her generous spirit.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. You are so right. We all need those little moments and sometimes they come when we need them most. I recently had a similar moment with one of my students and it helped me to look at him in a very different light.

  5. mpullen says:


  6. Debbie says:

    When I taught at this one community college, I had an 8 AM class consisting of a back row of students I considered my sweathogs. Some of those guys were pretty smart, but they were also a handful. They actually liked me, yet at the same time they presented a challenge.

    One day towards the end of the semester, I was teaching footnotes and bibiliography for their term paper. Seemed to me they were more high powered than usual. I threw the grammar book down at a very sharp trajectory. A stunned silence followed. I picked up the grammar book and continued on with the lesson.

    A couple of hours later, the ringleader came up to me in my tiny cubbyhole that a full-timer let me use. Could have knocked me over with a feather. He apologized for all the bad behavior, and let me know how much they all appreciated having me as their teacher.

    I’ve always had fond memories of those guys. I hope they are all doing well, and perhaps even made a name for themselves.

  7. Irene says:

    Wow! How heartwarming! It just goes to show how much these children crave direction even as they fight it. She knows you care. And she’s letting you know that she knows. These children are our most powerful teachers, aren’t they?

    • Deven Black says:

      I tell my students all the time that I will learn far more from them than they will learn from me, and I never lie to my students. They teach me every minute of every day.

  8. Hadass Eviatar says:

    Deven, I’ve just shared this on my FB page telling the world how much I love you. I think you are one of the most amazing teachers in my PLN, and I am so fortunate to learn at your feet. Thanks for being my friend.

  9. loren & willy says:

    when i was in jr.high, i had a teacher, killer jackson, who kept a belt hanging on the black board. on the first day of class she told us that she was not afraid to use it. if we learn nothing else in her class, we would learn to be responsible and accountable for our actions. she’s one of the few teachers that i remember, and one whose guidance impacts me still. oh yeah, she also taught us social studies that year.

  10. Melisa says:

    What a lovely, inspiring story. Thanks for sharing.

    Whenever I feel like I am starting to lose it, I stop and call up two classroom memories: the old Russian couple who called me “Teacher from God” and the young Turkish couple who named their baby after me.

  11. “A teacher affects eternity – he (or she) can never tell where his /her influence stops.” – Henry Adams. I’m glad you ate the cookies. 🙂

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