It’s heart-warming when students share their appreciation for professors with me. I received the following unsolicited statement in an email last week (I remove names and neutralized gender pronouns):

“ [Professor] has gone above and beyond to help me in school and push me to do well and I realize hardly any of his/her students give him/her a positive comment or even a thank you. But in fact, s/he’s one of the best teachers at this school because s/he drives us and wants us to do well. So in this I hope you see s/he has been a great role model for me.” The professor referenced in this statement has high expectations for students and always is willing to help them with their learning outside the classroom.

When I read the student’s comments, I was reminded of the words from Ken Bain I shared at this semester’s EHHS divisional meeting. Here are the words I shared:

People tend to learn most effectively (in ways that make a sustained, substantial, and positive influence on the way they act, think, or feel) when (1) they are trying to solve problems (intellectual, physical, artistic, practical, or abstract) that they find intriguing, beautiful, or important; (2) they are able to do so in a challenging yet supportive environment in which they can feel a sense of control over their own education; (3) they learn most effectively when they can work collaboratively with other learners to grapple with the problems; (4) they believe that their work will be considered fairly and honestly; and (5) they can try, fail, and receive feedback from expert learners in advance of and separate from any judgment of their efforts (p. 109).

The professor referenced in the above email strives to apply the effective teaching principles shared by Bain. As a result, the professor was given the honor of being called a “role model.”

My appreciation for everyone’s effort was expressed during our opening meeting by saying, “We hold the futures of our students in our hearts and hands. We challenge them, support them, and help them discover new possibilities. I respect and appreciate the ability each of you has to do this.”

Not only do our students deserve the best of who we are individually and as a community, they deserve the best of who we can become. I am thankful for the EHHS community because we support each other in achieving this goal.

EHHS shared values represented in this blog: Respect and empathy, Excellence in teaching, Life-long learning/growth, Helping students achieve goals, and Professionalism.

Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.