Sunday, May 23, 2010

PR -- Graduation -- The Favorites

I feel lucky to be a teacher. Every year I am surrounded by a new group of amazing students and I get to share in one of the greatest milestones in their life, graduation. Thirteen and a half years ago, I married the most amazing teacher and now I have the privilege of knowing even more great kids.

In my twenty-five years, I have known many amazing kids. Too many to count. The amazing thing is when I sit at graduation, I always think that there will never be another group of kids like the one that are leaving. To this day, that is correct. The void left by the graduating class is filled by a unique replacement, and although they might be amazing, they aren't exactly the same. Sometimes they are much better.

I had a talk with my Intro to Computer students on Thursday about a bunch of different topics, but one of them was their digital footprint and what kind of legacy they will leave online. The topic of teachers and students being 'friends' on Facebook came up. This is always touchy subject online and off. I have a strict policy of not friending until they graduate.

The topic took a turn when a student suggested that if a teacher and student were friends online, it would make it seem as if that student was the 'favorite.' Which launched a discussion about whether teacher had favorites. All the students seemed to agree that it was a fact. I agreed with them, which astounded them. No teacher had ever admitted it. But, here is the deal, of course we have favorites. When you have an amazing student who you can depend on, who goes out of their way to be kind, or shares a common interest, it is human nature that you would gravitate toward that student.

I do have favorites, but they are held to the same behavioral standard as any other student (and, as my wife says, a higher standard). There is no grade benefit for being a favorite, and in fact, no tangible benefit at all. However, the students who stay with us, after they leave school, are a treasure.

The crazy thing about the entire thing is that every kid can be a favorite. There is no magic trick and no  secret handshake. Being a decent person and doing your best job is all it takes. It seems that some jealous kids get hung up on the 'favorite' title, sometimes tormenting the person who is thought to be a favorite. The really interesting thing about the talk I was having with the kids came after I said I had favorites (with the disclaimers above) and one student remarked "Thank you for your honesty." Which was interesting. I asked them if there were people in the class that they liked more than others? Of course that is true, then why does it get so strange?

So, what's the answer? Well, I am going to keep doing what I am doing. When I know awesome kids like PR and bunches of kids at my school, I am going to keep caring about and supporting them the best I can. . . Because, in the end, my goal is to lift them all up, I might just enjoy hanging out with some a little better.

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