Laughing and beaming with happiness, one corner of a classroom is full of smiles as the teacher talks to a group of students about their weekend plans, proudly laying back to show off their returned quiz papers, decorated with 100s, smiley faces and an array of encouraging messages.
Meanwhile, in the opposite corner of the room, a cloud of gloom covers the other students, far away from the teacher, staring with disdain at the star classmates and pressing down their quizzes, which are covered in red marks and the classically ominous “See me” at the top of the paper. The unfortunate students stare as the teacher pulls up an empty chair to talk to the high-scorers, looking like someone about to ask his or her friends to hang out at Rio after school.
While certain students may scratch their heads as they listen to this hypothetical situation, perhaps other students may have vivid flashbacks to a point where one teacher showed favoritism to classmates over them.
In junior Noelly Miller’s opinion, favoritism is not a common issue, but is definitely an instance that happens enough to be noticed. “Of all the teachers in the school,” Miller said, “I would guess probably about 25 percent of them have favorites.”
Freshman Anaïs Sullivan is thankful she has not been a victim of favoritism during her first two months of high school. She has been welcomed to ninth grade by teachers like physical education teacher James Long. “In P.E., he directs us all similarly and he is my favorite teacher so far,” Sullivan said.
For Miller, his favorite teacher is social studies teacher, Bryce Coon, who he says treats his students fairly and equally in the classroom. On the other hand, Miller has witnessed teachers who would change their behaviors during class and target his peers. “I remember during one year one of my teachers made four kids cry,” Miller said.
To art teacher Malinda Pierce, making all of her students feel comfortable and welcome is an important task to fulfill. “If I were a student whose teacher picked favorites over me, I would be disappointed,” Pierce said. “Then, I would want to address my concerns privately with the teacher.”
Pierce suspects that good grades and high attention spans may be two reasons teachers could be biased toward certain students over others. She hopes student bias does not poorly affect the well-being or even the grades of the affected individual. “I try not to single out one person’s mistakes; I want to address the general mistakes the class may have made on a project,” Pierce said.
In one’s high school career, he or she may have the honor of being a teacher’s pet or curse of being a class scapegoat. Which case applies to whom may possibly depend on work ethic or personality, but students like Miller may find themselves focusing more on the “what” rather than the “why.” “No matter what it is,” Miller said, “I just wish teachers would show us the same amount of attention.”