Who’s your favorite?

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My students are constantly asking me who is my favorite. It reminds me of when I was little and I was convinced that my parents must have a favorite among the four of us siblings — how could they possibly love us all equally? We were so vastly different, bizarre, and needy in our young years that the idea that my mother and father could look us in the eye and say they loved us all with no holds barred seemed laughable.

Now, I tell my middle and high school students that I do not have a favorite. I mean this to the bottom of my soul, to the top of my heart, and all around. I mean it from my Monday to my Friday, from my happiness to my sorrow. I mean it from when I am angry at them to when I think there is no greater joy than hearing young people happy.

I mean it every time I say it.

Because I read these articles, hear these horrifying stories and think: that could be me.

I signed up to teach them, but really this means a lot more than I thought. It means I will help them navigate awkward social situations, I will engage their questions when I am exhausted from 18 hours of waking and walking and talking, and, I realize, it means that I would die for them. Each and every one. And that I wouldn’t regret it. And that this is what it means to love.

I love all of them, I would protect all of them, and I am sick reading these stories and praying that if this ever happens to me, I will not think twice before jumping between my curious, loving, thoughtful, funny, crazy, thoughtless, beautiful students and someone who wants to hurt them.

When I entered this field, I thought the most difficult questions I would need to grapple with were pedagogical and philosophical. I was very wrong.

4 thoughts on “Who’s your favorite?

  1. Russ Hawkins

    It is not something a teacher should need to worry about. Not sure what has changed to make this a almost monthly occurrence but it needs to be fixed.

    Reply
    1. catherine_hawkins Post author

      I know. My first year teaching, Newtown happened. My second year teaching, that young math teacher was killed by a student in Danvers. Now, it seems countless times. It’s overwhelming.

      Reply
    1. catherine_hawkins Post author

      Thanks, Hannah. I remember when I first started teaching and you gave me “Courage to Teach” by Parker J. Palmer. I was overwhelmed with his honesty and his belief that we do not teach our subject, we teach ourselves…I couldn’t even imagine the responsibility. But here we are, six years later, and from my limited experience, Palmer is right.

      Reply

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