Recently, elementary teacher Rachael M. overheard a coworker say “I cannot stand (student name)! How do you put up with him/her?” She wonders, can that teacher objectively and fairly interact with that student? Our community on the WeAreTeachers Helpline spoke up with their opinions and advice about teachers who admit, “I don’t like my students.”
First, let’s be honest. It happens to the best of us.
“Face it,” says Krista L.,”Teachers are humans too, and sometimes there are personality types that we just don’t connect with.”
“Yes” Sarah H.agrees, “There are just some students with whom you have to fake until you make it.” Therese E. adds, “Teachers deserve an Oscar for our daily performances!”
“I wouldn’t want to judge based on one comment alone,” says Hannah H.,”Maybe he/she is just having a bad day.”
So how do you respond when a teacher shares something like that with you?
Sarah H. doesn’t get too involved: “I have learned to just nod, smile, and walk away.”
Arlene N., on the other hand, likes to help the teacher see things from the student’s point of view. “I let the teacher know I hear them, I understand and see it too, but then I turn it on them and ask what do you think the student might need from you?”
And Alyssa F. tries to help the teacher see the bright side: “I try to point out something that is awesome about that student or something they really did well anytime a coworker says something negative about a kid. Even if the student isn’t very likable, you should be able to find one thing! My feedback will either change the way the teacher thinks about the student or they’ll take the hint and shut up.”
But, can you trust that teacher to be fair and objective?
“I think a mature coworker, yes,” Johanna E. tells us, “Most teachers recognize personality conflicts but can still assess a child objectively. Every single teacher has triggers and every single teacher has personality conflicts. Part of growing as a teacher is learning to acknowledge those and deal with them. Venting to a staff member may be just that—venting.”
Tuesday D. agrees, “It’s perfectly okay and normal to not like a person at some time or another … especially while waiting for their brain cells to grow together … It’s even okay to voice your dislike, occasionally, in a setting where your feelings will be respected and not judged.”
As Trish R. puts it, “Yes, that’s where one’s professionalism comes into play. You put on your teacher hat and teach.”
“I have zero problems letting my students know when they are being turkeys—we all have our moments.” Dani S. confesses, “Doesn’t take away from the fact that I love them and would do anything for them.”
“Completely possible!” says Brian K.,”I’m only human and it’s true- some days I don’t like my students. That doesn’t mean I’m gonna treat them any differently.”
What can you do when you don’t like a student?
Look for the positive. If you go into class thinking, “I can’t stand that kid,” you’re more likely to notice their faults. But if you go in with positivity, you’ll see more of the good.
Sarah H. tells us. “One of my mentors taught me to find one thing you like about them every day, even if it just their shoes.”
Up your effort, advises Kristel R. “I always work extra hard with the students who drive me nuts every day.”
Consider the big picture, says Jo B. “Some students can be a prickly pear, but that just means they need more love and connection than most. I try to be empathetic and work with them so they can be successful, graduate HS, and hopefully continue to an advanced education.”