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I’m Finished Playing Favorites in the Classroom

by Laura Yeager

In a previous essay entitled “The Academic Circle of Life & Excellent Usage of Commas,” I wrote about my time in graduate school at Iowa State, where I studied writing on a full fellowship. At this university, I knew what it was like to be thought of as one of the best (most advanced) writers in the program.

I also went to another graduate school, The Writers’ Workshop at The University of Iowa, and we were all aware of who the writing stars were–the students who got the graduate teaching gigs and won the fellowships and awards. These were the favorites. I was not a star at this school, but they did let me graduate.

As I got out of grad school and began my teaching career, I followed the traditional way of holding up “the best” writers’ work in my classes as models for the other students.  In fact, I did this for years.

But this semester, I decided to try something new and different. I’m through with playing favorites.

I put myself in my students’ shoes. I imagined how it would be if my teacher constantly featured the work of a few students

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