Teachers shouldn’t play favorites, but there are times when personalities clash within your classroom and you simply dislike a student.
Unfortunately, the kids who are hardest to love are likely the ones who need it the most. Follow these tips to change your point of view when you dislike a student and ensure they get the most of their time in your classroom.
1. Ask advice from fellow teachers.
Whether you’re an experienced educator or just starting out, there are bound to be times where your colleagues can give you some helpful hints about dealing with unruly or difficult pupils. Talk to other teachers that had the student you are having trouble with or who have a great handle on their classes. However, instead of making it a venting session about how much you dislike a student, gather ideas and advice on how to handle the situation fairly and with kindness.
2. Learn more about the student.
If a child is dealing with problems at home or with friends, they’re more likely to cause a stir during school hours. Try speaking to the student one-on-one or even consider a conference with the parents to get a better idea of what the student is dealing with. You’ve probably heard the saying “It’s hard to hate someone once you get to know them,” and it’s just as true of students as it is of adults. Once you know what is happening in a student’s life, you can help find ways for the pupil to better express their emotions in a way that’s not disruptive to the entire class.
3. Treat them the same as other classmates.
It may be difficult, but it’s important to stay consistent with punishments and procedures when dealing with a student you dislike. Maybe they are getting more notes home or being sent to the principal more often than others, but ensure they are not treated differently than others who commit similar transgressions. Each student in our care deserves to feel valued each day.
4. Try positive reinforcement.
When you dislike a student, almost everything he or she does seems to get you fuming. Combat this by constantly being on the lookout for good things they do. If they scored well on a test, congratulate them one-on-one. If they did a kind act for another student, acknowledge them in front of the class. The student may be thrilled with the praise and work to receive it again with other positive actions.
5. Get to the root of the problem.
Students act out for different reasons. Is it that they are having trouble understanding material (perhaps they have a learning disability or behavior problem) and giving up, or are they stressed about something outside the classroom? By getting a good idea of why the student is causing trouble, you’ll better know how to resolve the issue.
6. When all else fails, remember it’s only temporary.
If you’ve tried all the steps above and are still not seeing the student in a different light, take a deep breath and know that a school year doesn’t last forever. In just a few months, they will move onto a new classroom and you will have a whole new group of students to get to know. Who knows – maybe you’ll be able to look back on this student and realize how much they taught you!
Think of each time you dislike a student as a challenge to be kinder, more understanding, and patient. This kind of thinking can only be beneficial to you both inside and out of the classroom. The world is always in need of some calmness, good will, and sympathy.