I saw this image on social media the other day, and as I read through the comments, it appears that identifying a favorite teacher is something that most people do not find difficult. In addition to being able to identify teachers who were my favorites, I also thought about the teachers that were my least favorites.

As I think about the differences between the teachers I liked and didn’t like, there are several factors that affect my feelings. One is how good a teacher they were. Did they present the information in a way that I could understand it and was their class engaging? I also think about how they treated me.

Did I experience dignity and respect in their classroom? I remember one teacher in seventh grade who refused to call me Doug because John is my legal first name. To this day, I experience a strong negative emotional reaction anytime I think about her. I believe those negative emotions are mostly related to the lack of safety that I felt in her class. The biggest factor for me is probably how much I believed the teacher cared about me. A quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

In The Mandt System, we understand that the foundation of any work we do in any service setting ultimately is the relationships we have with the people we serve and our co-workers. While it is important to be competent at our jobs, it is even more important to treat people in ways that help them feel respected and safe. When people know that we care, they will be better able and willing to learn from us.

Doug ZehrVogt, Mandt System Faculty