There’s a saying that goes, “Nice guys always finish last.” In a way, it applies to my process of choosing my favorite student(s) each year. A few days ago, I reflected on my favorite students throughout my teaching years. In student teaching, it was the student that was always off-task and never did his work. In my first assignment, it was the student who actually asked me, “Do you even know how to teach?” In my first year at my current school, it was the tiny, potty-mouthed genius. Last year, it was the student who was always emotional about EVERYTHING. This year, it may be a toss-up between the potty-mouth’s sister and the student who argues with everyone. What all of them have in common is that none of them are the greatest academically. None of them are traditionally likable; none of them are well-behaved; none of them are my “project students.” I just tend to like the ones that other students find mean, rude, emotionally-unstable, etc. The traditionally nice and good students, though appreciated, are rarely my favorite.
I tried to figure out what it is that makes the “others” my favorite. You’d think that the students who were helpful and did all of their work would be a teacher’s wet dream, but not in my case. I like the rude ones who call me on my sh*t; the ones that kept me on my toes; the ones that cursed like sailors, but knew their way around the English language.
I think I figured it out; I was never the student that people would imagine as a teacher. I was a bit of an a*shole. In middle school, I refused to give a teacher my pager (yes, pager) because she “didn’t say ‘please,'” but still did all of my work in OCS (on-campus suspension). In high school, I rolled up my skirt too high, decorated my sentences with f-bombs (and still do!), and drank alcohol during cheer practice (not a good combination, when you’re the base of a pyramid). I had tons of freedom (and piercings), and plugged my phone up in the classroom whenever there was a substitute teacher. I ditched classes and still passed with an A or B. I was, for lack of better words, a jerk; one that did her work, but a jerk, nonetheless.
I love my problematic students so much. They’re so reminiscent of myself. Even though they aren’t the most helpful, passionate, optimistic, intelligent, humble, well-behaved, nicest, or whatever other positive adjective, they’re human. They’re mine, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What is a common characteristic of your favorite students?