I am the very proud principal of the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center (HACTC). And I have a confession to make.
I have favorites.
But not favorite students.
Well, that’s not true.
That is so not true.
I did have favorite students.
That is so embarrassing to write.
Knowing what I know now and feeling what I feel now about teaching.
And if this is a true confession, I have to admit that at forty-seven years old and in year twenty-six of my teaching career, it took me five drafts and three weeks to write those first seven lines.
That ended with the truth….
I did have favorite students.
Which, when I started to write, was not the focus of this entry at all.
As shown in the wrong tense and purposeful switch in the second and third lines.
Both hint at my lie.
My first draft lie.
To go elsewhere with this entry.
But despite my intent, and my lie, the truth comes out.
As it always does.
The teacher who claimed that 'all my students were my favorites.'
And in that egoistical and false claim missed the signs of those students who knew the lie.
Their clenched hands.
Their narrow eyes.
Their tightened shoulders.
Their bouncing legs under the desk.
Their broken pencils from pressing too hard on the paper I just passed out.
And the swearing at me under their breath after I questioned them about their life.
And their struggles.
My insincere questions.
The reality that I had favorites took so many drafts and so long to write because I was avoiding the truth.
And the hypocrisy.
I am really good at both sometimes.
I avoid my hypocritical truths.
Like the fact that I had favorite students.
I avoided that truth because what I know now is that having favorites as a teacher just sucks.
For those who are not the 'favorites.'
And that was the majority of students in my classes.
And despite what I thought or how I convinced myself otherwise, they knew.
They so knew.
That they were not my 'favorite.'
And hopefully, they didn’t give a damn.
Despite their clenched hands, tightened shoulders, bouncing legs, and broken pencils.
I hope they had enough defiance or wisdom to know that I was wrong.
Because who the fuck was I?
A stupid teacher.
Whose favorites were the engaged.
And the athletes.
And the 'popular.'
Who still needed a good teacher in their life.
But not at the expense of other students.
And I pray now that my behavior did not solidify my 'non-favorite student's' belief that they did not belong.
In a place where everyone should belong.
Or did not marginalize them in an environment where there should be no margins.
I am so sorry.
So very sorry.
Please forgive me.
Because I now look at all my students the same.
And mean it.
And no insincerity.
All students are my favorite.
Not just the engaged, the traditionally athletic, and the 'popular.'
The students hiding in the back of the classroom.
The students with their hoods on. Constantly.
The students who are non-traditional athletes that climb, bike, board, ride, and skate like no one's business.
The students who look a little rough.
The students that act angry or defiant.
Because they are all brilliant.
Absolutely fucking brilliant.
In every way.
Yes, I want to go back.
And do it over.
And show ALL my former students the same love and sincerity as I showed my favorites.
To let them know that they, too, are valuable.
Despite their stupid English teacher.
Who didn’t know anything.
But now does.
Because he is no longer stuck on himself.
And works that non-stuck-on-himself trait into his leadership.
And his hugs.
And his respect.
And his love.
And I know all the above because of former students.
Who have come back.
And told me.
That they knew my lie.
Because I now have their children in school.
And they want better for them.
And better from me.
And better for me.
And they will get all three.