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Classroom Politics: The Teacher's Pet

Jul 10, 2009

A good teacher is rare, and generally when you find one you’ll see that they’re buried behind the gift cookies and flowers students heap on their desks. But for the most part, our day-to-day teachers have desks covered only in assignments, paperclips and grading pens. Obviously teachers have faults, they’re human; as we always awkwardly remember when we see them at the local grocery store, shuffling around in cartoon pajamas. And while we can’t expect perfection from all of them, there are always a few that we find not to be living up to any form of our golden standard.
Little kids often have it right when they plainly ask their parents which child they love more. They don’t see it as a battle of morals, as something impolite or rude. They see it as what it is: everyone has some sort of preference, what’s yours? And while they aren’t supposed to, teachers, being the humans that they are, also play favorites.
The teacher’s pet is an iconic annoying kid with good grades who sucks up no matter what. While this stereotype isn’t always correct, it does show that teachers do embrace and treat differently students who they feel more obliged towards. These people can be tardy, miss class, turn in projects late, I’ve heard of it all, while their buddy next to the chalkboard smiles and waves them in.
There’s no real secret to getting teachers to like you, they all have different personalities and thus prefer different sorts of people. All you can really do is smile and bear it as you watch them pamper their pet, forced to follow regular classroom rules and deadlines. And while it can be more than annoying to watch one of your classmates get favorable treatment, it’s better than being on the other side of the spectrum.
I once had a teacher who liked me well enough, we had the same interests and I did well enough in her class for her not to ever really bother me about anything. Behind me sat a baseball player who wasn’t the brightest, but for the most part wasn’t such a terrible idiot. For some reason, my teacher could not stand him. If he said one word, she’d turn and start yelling, screaming, belittling, or just humiliating him. To her he could do no right, just wrong, and the treatment continued for months.
To be despised by your teacher is an uncomfortable situation that can occur for a number of reasons. I was once told by a retired teacher that one year she had a student who she constantly tormented because he reminded her too much of her ex-husband. Other times students just manage to rub their teachers the wrong way, they might be rude and disgusting, or maybe they just always fail to study sufficiently. No matter the reason though, dealing with an angry teacher in the classroom can often hinder your education because if you spend more time treading carefully around them than focusing on the material, there’s not much you’ll be able to learn.
This type of behavior is generally tolerated by schools, mostly because they have no real idea that it’s happening. There’s no real way to stop this treatment from occurring either, and it’s not always the best idea to run to your principal and report either the excessive abuse or pampering that one of your classmates is receiving. While you should report teachers in extreme cases, not much can be done against them if their preferential treatment is limited, so by reporting them you might face stirring up more trouble. If that’s the case, then it’s recommended that if your teacher strongly dislikes you to just lay low. Don’t talk in their class, stare into space, or not turn in assignments. If you give them little reason to berate you, they won’t be able to do much.
Generally most of us fall into the in-between category, we are neither the teacher’s pet or the untolerated student, simply the people who sit back and watch the theatrics amid the note-taking and test-prep. And when you consider some of the alternatives, being part of the audience isn’t the worst that could happen.

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