Whenever students get in trouble at school one of the first excuses, they throw out is “Well Mr. _______ just doesn’t like me.” Their parents usually assure them that’s not the case. Well, they might be lying to them.
As a teacher, I can honestly tell you that I do have favorites. We all do. Teachers are human too. Of course, there are students we like more than others.
One day in afternoon homeroom I had a student ask me if teachers had favorite students. My response was, “Well don’t you have favorite teachers?” Immediately the student and her friends started trying to guess who my favorites were. They started with the most well-behaved students and worked their way down until they eventually “guessed” every student in the class. But for me, there is no rhyme or reason on how I pick my favorites. Sometimes it is the most well-behaved students. Sometimes, it’s a poorly behaved student. I don’t have an archetype for my favorite students, but my least favorite students are typically the ones that I think don’t like me either. (A problem I don’t often have thankfully!)
One important distinction: I have favorites, but I don’t play favorites. I treat every student fairly, and I am personally proud of the fact that students can’t guess who my favorites are based on my actions alone. This is not true for every teacher though. Sometimes it’s obvious to students and staff alike when a teacher favors a student or dislikes another. That shouldn’t be the case, but it is.
Because the above is the case, we aren’t doing students any favors by pretending otherwise. I certainly don’t tell students where they stand on the hierarchy of favs, but it’s only fair that I confirm their suspicions that teachers, like students, like some students more than others. Also, they should know this won’t stop after they leave school. Their bosses and co-workers will have favorites too. They will continue to find people also like and dislike, and they will simply have to deal with it.
It may be considered taboo to talk about the concept of having favorites, but it’s not a subject we should avoid either. It’s an important realization to have for students to understand for their character and professional development. If students don’t come to grips with the fact that working relationships are often tangent to who you like or dislike, they will struggle in the real world.