Teacher Encouragement

The great educational philosopher Jacques Barzun wrote:

“Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.”

This post is an attempt to bring back the “regard” that Barzun alluded to.  I think that most people understand how important education is early in life.  However, once removed, we may forget or not hold in high regard the impact education and educators have had on our lives.

Your Favorite Teacher

A person’s favorite teacher is personal and unique to each individual.  That is what makes teaching so difficult.  Expectations of teachers and what impacts students is not the same for everyone.  Also, each teacher may have unique strengths that makes them an effective teacher.  For example, one student may appreciate certain aspects of one teacher and appreciate a separate set of aspects in another teacher.  While reading this post, keep in mind that there are a variety of favorite teachers due to the individual needs of the students.

Do you remember your favorite teacher?  Most people can reflect and recall the experiences and characteristics that led to the determination of their favorite teacher.  Over the last 18 years of teaching, I have collected unscientific evidence on favorite teachers.  The majority of individuals that I have talked make the “favorite teacher” selection according to the character of the teacher over any other determining factor.  In other words, students appreciate teachers that are good people rather than how smart they are, how organized they are, how athletic they are, how much accomplishments they have completed, or where they received their degree.  While I do have quantitative data to support this claim, the qualitative testimonials are more fitting for this topic.  Students have shared with me statements such as:

“My favorite teacher was patient.”

“My favorite teacher was kind.”

“My favorite teacher cared about me.”

“My favorite teacher treated me like I was special.”

“My favorite teacher listened to me.”

“My favorite teacher was joyful and cared about the subject area.”

“My favorite teacher valued me by getting to know me as an individual.”

Do one of these reasons match why you have selected your favorite teacher?  Please who your favorite teacher was and why?

The Problem

Many teachers are leaving the field and it may be due to a lack of encouragement and positive feedback.

The reason this article is posted “teacher encouragement” is due to the following challenge.  Have you reflected on an experience and developed a perfect plan to resolve a conflict or respond graciously to a situation yet fail to act?  That is what Argyris and Schon (1993) would call our “Espoused Theory.”  Our “Espoused Theory” does not always translate into our “Theory in Action.”  The truth is that our intentions are often good and effective yet our actions are at times antithetic to our character.  The teacher encouragement challenge is an opportunity to connect with our “Espoused Theory.”

We all want others to know the positive impact they have on our lives.  However, life and circumstances do not make it easy to share that with others.

The Challenge

Does your favorite teacher know that you have chosen them as YOUR “favorite teacher?”  What would it take for you to locate and communicate that to them?  Stop what you are doing and share with the teacher this amazing compliment and explain why you feel that way.

I can tell you from experience that when students make an effort to share that information, no matter how far removed, it is the highest honor and helps make the sacrifice worth it.

Encourage your favorite teacher by sharing the information that you have known and always wanted to share.  Don’t keep this amazing gift from the teacher that deserves it and may need to hear/read it.  Help to restore the “regard” for education by recognizing an educator that deserves it.


Once you have communicated that to them, come back and share how it impacted you and the teacher.

Dr. Herzog

Argyris, C., & Schön, D. A. (1993). Organizational learning: A theory of action perspective. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley.



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