Dear Parents,

Teachers have favorites, and there is nothing you can do about it.

I rarely made it through a school year without hearing at least one of my students complain about how Mr. McTeacherton has favorites. I always pressed my lips together to stifle a smile, because I know the truth. You bet your sweet bippy they do!

You would have thought I shredded their 10-minute research paper they plagiarized off the internet right in front of their faces when I told them this. Teachers have favorites. And if any of them deny it to your face, they are probably laughing about it behind your back.

Now, before you get all up in arms about it, please understand teachers have very little control over this. It really comes down to basic science. If you think about it, you have a set group of friends, people that you get along with. There is chemistry between you that causes you to connect and enjoy each other’s presence. That chemistry is why we choose the friends we do. It’s why we go to lunch with certain colleagues. It’s why we invite particular people over to our homes for a meal. It’s why we gravitate towards one of our kids more than the others (you know that’s true, too). We are wired this way.

But what about the other people? They are like certain family members who you are required to tolerate. You just do the best you can, and like a colonoscopy, you spend time praying for it to be over as soon as possible. But deep down (for some of us, waaaaaay deep down in the tip of our broken pinky toe), you still love them. It’s just that in my eleven years in the classroom, there were days when the trumpets of heaven sounded when a particular student didn’t say “here” after I called their name. Butterflies eating lollipops, riding on unicorns appeared, because I knew for the next hour and a half, I would not be fighting an uphill battle with Sammy Student who seemed intent on sabotaging what I had spent hours preparing to teach. Yes, parents. Some of your kids are a burr in the classroom sandal, and the problem isn’t the teacher. But that’s for another day.

So what makes a student gain a teacher’s favor? Surprisingly, it isn’t always about grades and behavior. It’s true that most teachers enjoy students who are hard workers, those willing to submit assignments correctly and on time.

But it doesn’t always come down to your kid being a stellar student. I’ve had a handful of insanely smart, meticulous students who I wasn’t crazy about. Sometimes it was their arrogance, sometimes their indifference, and other times their combativeness. You know, all of the things that drive you, as a parent, crazy! TEACHERS ARE NOT IMMUNE. And just remember, many teachers are juggling 100+ TEENAGERS on a daily basis. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. I bet you’d be ready to quit after a week.

On the other hand, I’ve had plenty of C students I loved, as well as students who rarely turned an assignment in on time. What about the kids I always had to write up? Again, some of my favorites. Sometimes they shared my sense of humor, or maybe we shared a similar life experience. What about that kid who tended to interrupt a lecture to insert his own commentary? Some of them were my absolute favorites! I was able to feed off and harness their enthusiasm to make the excitement for our class topic spread like wildfire.

It goes both ways. I’d be a fool to think I was every student’s favorite teacher. The kids I didn’t click with usually meshed well with one of their other six teachers.

Teachers thrive on the different personalities that flood into their classrooms. It’s what makes for awesome class discussions and incredible group presentations. It’s what makes the classroom a living, thriving organism conducive for learning.

Here’s the bottom line:

Are teachers wrong for having favorites? Nope.

When does it cross the line? When they play favorites.

Teachers should ALWAYS treat students equally. Believe me, my infraction pad was blind. The truth is, I rarely had to write many kids up because most of them were awesome sauce. I really do hope that each of my students at least felt like they were my favorite, even if they weren’t. I certainly loved them all and wanted the very best for them.

I had favorites, but I hope I never played favorites. Those are two very different things.

And by the way, if your kid ever comes home and says they feel like their teacher doesn’t like them, instead of preparing for a round of Kung Fu on the teacher’s face, start by asking a line of questions to your kid. I’d venture to say that half of the time, the problem is with the student’s behavior, lack of respect, or passivity.

But then again, some teachers do need that round of Kung Fu.

Blessings to the start of a new year!

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