Prejudging students by looks, other teachers’ comments, or by family association is not a good idea. However in many cases it does happen.
How many of you with older brothers or sisters have ever had your teachers compare you to them? In some areas students and families are in and out of schools so much that teachers never see two siblings in their classroom. However other areas are more well grounded and families stay much or all of their lives.
In some cases a teacher may have the opportunity to teach a parent and all of the children. I have even known of a grandparent being thrown in there too! In some rural smaller locations teachers know moms, dads, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles of their students.
When a teacher has taught other family members of their students they tend to compare the them. They assume that if one sibling was very intelligent that the others must be also. If one sibling is much discipline trouble then the others must be too. However as parents we know that this does not always hold true.
Looks can have a lot to do with the reason why teachers easily compare family members in the classroom. After identifying one name with one face for a full ten months it can be easy to let this connection transfer over when another student looks or acts very similar to the previous one.
It may be helpful to keep the two separated in the mind of the teacher if the parents point out some differences among the children at the beginning of the year. I have had parents make general comments such as “this one is more trouble than the other one” or “you won’t have to call me near as much this year”. However I think that it would be helpful for parents to give specifics such as “Jane is quieter than Jill and may need more coaxing to read aloud” or “Jimmy needs a firmer tone of voice than Johnny did when it comes to discipline”.