This is 100% true. So is this: Having "favorite" students isn't a crime.
Here's the thing. There will always be students that push your buttons, positive and negative. We all have our interpretation of what an ideal student is and when one of our students exemplifies that, it makes us smile. The problem is that other students pick up on this and get down about it. Instead of changing their approach to your class, they internalize it and start to blame you for their short comings.
As a teacher, we have to support the mental health and development of our kids, true. The thing that makes it difficult is that you are trying to communicate that to a young person who hasn't fully evolved socially and emotionally yet. The obvious retort is that none of us ever stop evolving, but try explaining that there is a difference between like and love to a kid. That's a lesson that most people only learn after years in a bitter and unfulfilling relationship. I know plenty of teachers that would describe education as just that.
I love all of my students. I'd do anything for each and every one of them. Does that mean I am excited when every one of them shows up to chat outside of class time? Nope. "Oh man here comes this kid again" is a normal reaction to have. You don't have to like everyone.
If there is one thing I'd like for all of my kids to understand it's that their performance on exams has no impact on the amount of love they deserve. My love is unconditional. That doesn't mean I have to enjoy being around them though.
What I need to figure out is what actions communicated that to this student or if it was just the kid having some fun with the anonymous survey.
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Dallas Student Mental Health