The complexities of teaching are rarely understood by anyone who isn’t a teacher themselves. There are the usual technical aspects of teaching which are themselves complicated: the comprehension and delivery of the curriculum; the design and integration of topics; motivating and challenging the students and much, much more. However, the most misunderstood part of teaching is often the essential aspect of the relationships a teacher builds with each and every student.
Students are individuals, human beings (yes, you read that right) with their own needs, problems, worries, dreams and hopes and they need to be treated as such. There’s a whole complexity of humanity which walks through the door each morning and each individual is worthy of our time and support. It never surprises me that the accusation from students that someone in the class may be our “favourite” arises every year. However, they may not see the girl who started the year without friends and who needs a little more attention and more of a teacher’s time; or the student whose friends have found new pastures and who also needs extra support, a few words and a few smiles to rebuild their confidence; the student who is so independent and confident they rarely need any “targeted” time but who can be pushed and prodded to rise even further; the student with an outgoing sense of humour who can take the jokes that we would never say to a more sensitive child; the student whose desk we crouch at each day to check they have understood and are okay with an activity because we know they feel anxious when putting their hand up in class; the student who doesn’t speak often and needs more one-on-one attention to draw themselves out of their shell. The lucky ones, those who don’t need or want any added support, may view this as some sort of favouritism. But we know they’re okay, they are, as I said, the lucky ones.
I suppose the fact that some students think we have our “favourites” means that our classroom skills, the way we give “extra” support to some students, is actually working. It may be misunderstood by many in the class but that’s okay, as long as each and every student gets what they need in order to get through their day and has a chance to learn like everyone else.