Friday, February 28, 2014

Playing Favorites

I attended a workshop given by Todd Whitaker this week. If you aren't familiar with him, he has done a lot of research and written several books on What Great Teachers/Principals Do Differently. He was a great presenter-lots of stories and jokes to keep the audience engaged. And he sounded a little like Jimmy Stewart to me. :)

He said two things that got me thinking and I thought I would share them with you. One of them was (and I'm paraphrasing)--"in great teacher's classrooms, all the students think they are the favorites". I LOVE THAT! I have been thinking a lot since then about how you accomplish that. It's hard when the kiddos innately pick up on other students strengths and weaknesses. I try to praise everyone, but I know with 24 students, that probably doesn't always happen evenly.

It reminded me of a story from probably the 3rd year I was teaching. One of the students said "well, you are going to let 'Johnny' do it because he's your favorite". And of course, I said, "I don't have any favorites"-which in my head I do believe wholeheartedly. Out of curiosity I asked the student-"who is my least favorite in the class?" and he replied 'Kevin'. That bothered me soooo much! That he had an answer at all to that question. The answer should have been-no one, because in my heart that was what was true-that is not, however, what I must have been projecting. So something else to work on!

The other thing he said was "Negative people have no power-we give them power in our responses to them". And the more I think about this one, the more it rings true to me as well. A new program idea is floated and the response often is-but these teachers won't buy into it, we can't do it. And the negative people get what they want. He said we also often empathize with them, which makes them continue being negative-they got rewarded for it. So when we get back from a 2-week break and you ask someone how their vacation was and the response is a very dramatic "not long enough!"-he says you should just ignore that. Not say "oh, I know" or "aww, I'm sorry"--but just "great-have a good day". It's something I think I will try and see how it works out.

Anyway, just sharing some things I've been thinking about!


  1. Great food for thought. (This would probably be the year that if I asked "Who is my least favorite?" I would get an answer. Not good.)
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. Thanks Tammy! I know, I don't want to ask it either because I know who they would say. I don't even have any major behavior challenges this year, but just from the daily redirections-some students get more of the focus than others. Have to figure out how to fix that! :)

  3. Great post, I love it when I hear someone inspiring like that. Sadly though, I think maybe some of the kids would probably come up with a name or two for my least favourite, too. Like you I work really hard at being fair and loving everyone, but some years are harder than others!

    Barbara @
    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

  4. I've read this post over a few times. I feel like I am a very even handed person. I really don't think any child would ever say I liked one more or less than another. In fact my husband is always saying he's amazed by how even handed I am in my relationships with our two kids. So I think I'm doing that right. But I need to work on not giving negative people power. That negativity can be so overwhelming among teachers. I have to step away from it and act like it isn't happening. Thanks for this post.

    1. I think it's awesome that you can do that! Especially with your own kids-I know my sister and I used to always feel slighted in some way. :) I agree about the negativity. I've been trying to put that into practice-it's amazing when your conscious of listening for it how often that negativity arises. Thank you for much for stopping by and for you insight! :)