Friday Thoughts: Favorites
Not to brag, but I’m pretty sure I was Mrs. Barber’s favorite student when I was in her senior English class back in high school. She always seemed so thrilled to read my papers, to grade my tests, to laugh at my hilarious jokes, to ask me questions in class, to find out how my weekend went, and to encourage me if I was ever down. Even all these years later, it’s pretty clear to me that I was her favorite student. It may even be why majored in English and wanted to be an English teacher.
The thing is, though, if I asked my friend Grant, he’d probably tell me that he was her favorite student. Jason would probably say that he was. Kim would definitely say she was. Matt would argue he was. Katie would say she was.
You see, Mrs. Barber was a great teacher— probably the best I’ve ever had— and like all great teachers are able to do, she made each one of us feel like her favorite student. She made an effort to connect with each of us, she pushed each of us differently, and she encouraged each of us when we needed it.
Here are some things we can all do to be like Mrs. Barber:
- Treat every kid the same. Be careful not to single out any student or groups of students. Call on students equally. Make sure everyone participates in discussions. Don’t let anyone hide.
- Work the room. It’s easy to get into the habit of staying in one spot while lecturing or even while grading papers, but great teachers are always on the move. While teaching, they stand next to different students and go up and down desk rows. Also, they don’t always sit at their teacher desks, either. Instead, they sit in different places around the room next to different students.
- Greet every student every day. Ask about the weekend. Find out what’s going on in each student’s life. Build relationships. Over time, kids will feel more comfortable and will look forward to coming to class.
- Care about each kid. Find out what each student loves and bring that up in conversations. Mrs. Barber and I used to talk about Pearl Jam and the Rolling Stones a lot. I wasn’t much of a Stones fan and she probably wasn’t much of a Pearl Jam fan, but that doesn’t matter. We had some good debates and discussions.
I’m sure Mrs. Barber really did have her favorite students—and I may have been one of them— but none of us ever knew for sure. She just made us all think we were her favorites because that’s what great teachers do.