Last year, during a rather contentious disciplinary hearing, an irate father suggested that I had favorites in my class. He said this in an attempt to get me to confess that I also had less-than-favorites - his son in particular. I told him that I didn't have favorites. I told him that I subscribed to my father's school of thought in which there were no bad children, only bad behavior.
I lied. Not about the whole thing, but I lied. I do believe very firmly that every kid can be just as witty and charming and successful as any other given the right opportunities. I do believe that I have favorites. I know this to be true because today as the fifth graders were being promoted, I felt my heart break just a little. Some of them had been my fourth graders just a year ago. I gave them all the same hearty handshake and told them that I hoped that they would stay in touch. I told them I want to know how they do in middle school. I want to know what high school they attend. I want to know if they apply to colleges. I want to know what happens to all the kids I taught. How will they turn out?
Then there's Alfonso and Karla. I was extraordinarily lucky that when Alfonso came to fourth grade he decided he was ready to be a scholar. He pushed himself. He had been in reading resource class for years, but he got himself further in nine months than he had in the previous four years. His mother made sure of it. On the day of his fifth grade promotion, he brought me a birthday card, and he thanked me. Alfonso is a favorite of mine.
Karla was already a good student when she was in my class. She was the one who asked the good questions. She always wanted to know why something worked. When there was chaos or apathy in my room, I would teach to her. If everyone else got it, that was fine, but I wanted to be sure that Karla got it. I used to tell her to hold onto the sides of her head when we encountered a tricky new math concept, because I told her, "I'm about to blow your mind."
It's the end of another year. I know that there will be some favorites from this group too. I need a little time to figure out who they are, and then I can start missing them too.