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Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, MA: President and Fellow at
Harvard College.

Key Points of Book Reviewed

William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
Professor of Educational Leadership
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Distinguished Alumnus
Central Washington University, College of Education and Professional Studies,
Ellensburg, Washington

Key Points
1. Create natural critical learning environments.
2. Teaching is about commanding attention and holding it.
3. Hold students attention with something they care about.
4. Use student centered instruction.
5. The brain loves diversity.
6. Students benefit from variety.
7. Communicate orally in ways that stimulate thought.
8. The ability to talk well remains important.
9. Improving oral speaking skills results in more positive learning responses from students.
10. Include everyone in the classroom in the conversation.
11. Learn students names.
12. The most effective speakers use a conversational tone.
13. Speak clearly and carefully.
14. Many excellent teachers practice enunciating clearly or rehearse in front of a mirror.
15. Give students time to contemplate.
16. Have a strong intention to help students learn.
17. Say the right thing the right way.
18. Excellent teachers capture and provoke thought.
19. Tell a story rather than just referring to it.
20. Warm language is essentially story telling. Warm language is in the present tense.
Even in the past tense, move the listener through it from the inside.
21. Bring your listeners inside the material you are presenting.

22. Less accomplish teachers use Cool language. They are afraid to tell the story in a
stimulating way.
23. Use Warm language to stimulate and invite.
24. Good explanations help students construct knowledge rather than simply absorb it.
25. Get students to speak and exchange ideas.
26. The best teachers provide and guide learning.
27. The best teachers do not blame students for any of the difficulties they face.
28. The best groups grapple with important questions not simply looking up the right
29. The best groups are heterogeneous, not homogeneous.
30. Request students work collaboratively.
31. Get everyone involved, early.
32. Highly effective teachers call on their students to contribute but with care.
33. Emphasize understanding over reaching the correct answer.
34. The best teachers provoke imagination.
35. The best teachers ask concluding questions.
36. One technique is to begin with, Before we get started A good way to begin class
with the teacher highlighting important information to be discussed.
37. Always focus on learning - both the students and the teachers learning.
38. Focus on the nature of the process of learning not the performance of the teacher.
39. Exceptional teachers are compassionate people. They really care about students.
40. Care about students as people.
41. Invest confidence in your students.
42. Develop a strong bond with students.
43. Develop trust.
44. Excellent teachers will do everything possible to help students learn.
45. Rules can change, standards for achievement cannot.
46. The most important aspect of teaching is the relationship of trust that develops between
the teacher and students.
47. Make your class user friendly.
48. If you do not learn, Ive failed as a professor.

49. Do what benefits student learning.

50. The best teachers exhibited trust with their students. Trust radiated with every contact
with students.
51. Excellent teachers shared their secrets on learning.
52. Many teachers tell stories to illustrate, but never get into old war stories.
53. There is no such thing as a stupid question.
54. Make students feel relaxed and challenged, and always comfortable.
55. Students learn from each other.
56. Each contribution is unique.
57. Everyone has something special to offer an original perspective.
58. Excellent teachers have a sense of humility.
59. Excellent teachers saw themselves as students of life.
60. Develop a bond between you and the students about humankinds struggles.
61. The worst teachers act superior.
62. Nature speaks in many tongues. Nature does not change.
63. Excellent teachers show a love of life, respect, fear, and in discovering similarities and
64. The best teachers believe they and their students could do great things together.
65. The best teachers display a mixture of humility, pride, fear, and determination.
66. Excellent teachers tried to keep any lack of success from affecting their confidence.
67. Treat students the way you would treat colleagues.
68. Understand students lives, cultures, and aspirations.
69. Excellence teachers show a willingness to see students outside of class.
70. Give students a sense of control.
71. Tell students that submitting papers late Will harm other students learning.
72. Invest your time investing in the lives, careers, aspirations, and development of students.
73. Treat students with dignity and respect.
74. Excellent teachers take the time to talk about students and their lives, and moments of
their own.
75. Listen to students.
76. Instead of telling students they are wrong, ask them questions. (Socratic Technique)

77. Have a deep concern for students.

78. Treat students with dignity, respect, and concern.
79. Evaluation and assessment are interconnected.
80. In assessing your students you are actually assessing your own efforts.
81. When evaluating your own teaching you are also evaluating student learning.
82. Outstanding teachers use assessments to help students learn.
83. Help students learn about themselves so they can become better learners and thinkers.
84. Examinations and assignments help students to understand their progress and they also
evaluate teaching.
85. If there is a pattern of misunderstanding, the teacher will need to reteach the material.
86. Help all students to learn better.
87. Evaluation and assessment stress learning rather than performance.
88. Develop a learning centered approach in teaching.
89. Remember that learning is developmental.
90. Grading is a way of communicating to students.
91. Turning in late papers is performance based not learning based.
92. If a students turn in an assignment late, this does not always mean they have
procrastinated. Perhaps they were going more in depth in working on it.
93. Extrinsic threats may be counterproductive.
94. Help students to get organized.
95. Emphasize learning over performance.
96. Grades represent an assessment of student thinking not some arbitrary rule.
97. The quality of a students work does not change because it is late. (Was the painting on
the Sistine Chapel any less beautiful because it ran behind schedule?)
98. Do not give Arbitrary extra credit for filling out forms, online ratings, surveys, and so
99. Always use a learning based approach.
100. The best teachers try to find out as much as possible about their students so they can help
them learn.
101. Call students by name.
102. Attempt to understand students and all of their complexities.

103. The best teachers gather information about students in order to help them to teach better.
104. Use a variety of teaching techniques.
105. First step: Using examinations as an assessment to help in crafting learning this is not
performance based. Second step: Help students to understand and use criteria by which
they will be judged.
106. Spell out clearly what is expected of the students and the profession.
107. Excellent teachers constantly talk about the learning students must achieve to earn a
letter grade.
108. Help students to think about their own thinking.
109. Grades represent clearly articulated levels of achievement.
110. Tell students not to waste their time trying to outguess the teacher.
111. Test for how well students understand.
112. Help students invent.
113. The course material is just as important at the end of the course as it is at the beginning.
114. What students understand and do intellectually by the end of the course matters more
than anything else.
115. Create captivating classes that engage students and win attention.
116. Talk with students about the kinds of comprehension and reasoning abilities expected.
117. Make cumulative examinations.
118. Teachers prepare students to do certain kinds of intellectual work.
119. Instruction provides practice and feedback. A test signifies if they can.
120. Excellent teachers have a strong sense of humility. They are not infallible.
121. Help students to understand their own learning.
122. Always have a deep concern for student learning.
123. What are students learning?
124. Does your teaching help students learn?
125. The best teachers did an extensive examination of their own learning objectives and
standards students work.
126. Look for opportunities for personal and professional development and improvement.
127. High student ratings indicate success if the teacher challenged students intellectually.
128. Low student ratings indicate that usually the teacher has failed the students.

129. Teaching must be judged using a learning perspective.

130. Teachers must make wise decisions about the quality of their own efforts to help
students improve.
131. Institutions ultimately want to keep the best teachers.
132. Evaluation of teaching should rely on appropriate sets of data.
133. Student ratings are not evaluations. They are one set of data to take into consideration.
134. Teachers can benefit greatly from self-analysis.
135. Focus on the quality of learning objectives and efforts to achieve.
136. What does the teacher do to contribute to student learning?
137. Evaluations are aimed at helping students learn.
138. Teachers should look at teaching as a serious intellectual activity.
139. What did the teacher do to foster student achievement and measure progress?
140. Look at what you test tells what you think is really important.
141. Educators must understand human learning.
142. Pay attention to how students learn.
143. To determine levels of student learning, look in detail at student performance and the
way performances changed over time.
144. Have a robust system for evaluating teaching.
145. Excellent teachers develop their abilities through constant self-evaluation, reflection, and
the willingness to change.
146. Teaching occurs when learning takes place.
147. We want all students to reach their potential.
148. Create the best learning environments.
149. Think about ways to understand student learning.
150. Strive to create successful learning environments for students.
151. The best teaching is an intellectual creation and performing art.
152. There is no single way to be the best teacher.
153. Think as a Learning University.
154. Faculty (Research) Students (Learning)
155. Think as a Learning University that is concerned with faculty (research) and students

156. Surveys indicate everyone cares about teaching. Now is the time to do something to
improve, not punish.
157. The best teachers expect more.
158. Emphasize the content expected for life.
159. Excellent teaching can be learned.
160. Foster educational success.
161. Outstanding teachers do research.
162. The best teachers expect more.
163. Do students in your class change the way they think?
164. Metacognition means thinking about your own thinking.
165. Stimulate construction of knowledge, not transmitting knowledge.
166. Listen to students before challenging them.
167. Ask questions to help students see their own mistakes.
168. Research subjects lose interest once extrinsic rewards are gone.
169. Students achieve because they are interested.
170. Encouragement and praise can stimulate interest and keeps interest from evaporating.
171. Strategic Learners focus on avoiding challenges in order not to hurt their academic
172. Performance Avoiders seek to avoid failure.
173. Bulimic Learners learn for the test and then make room for something else.
174. Adopt challenging goals.
175. Use your own enthusiasm for the course content.
176. Make examinations comprehensive.
177. Avoid demanding language.
178. Keep the larger questions at the forefront.
179. WGAD (Who-Gives -A-Damn) One teachers allows students to say WGAM when
confronted with materials that does not make sense to them.
180. Banking Model refers to teachers depositing correct answers for students.
181. Emphasize the pursuit of answers.
182. Use literature from other fields.

183. Women are separate or connected learners and like to argue, detach, and remain
184. Ask students to think about their own learning.
185. Create a natural learning environment.
186. Provide authentic learning that arouses curiosity, challenging s students to rethink
187. Provide students with foundations (Scaffolds).
188. Help students to construct their own understanding.
189. Pick examples most meaningful for students.
190. Look for ways to help students learn.
191. Create a nonthreatening atmosphere.
192. Communication succeeds only if it stimulates students to think.
193. Encourage people to learn.
194. Use the powers of stories when you teach.
195. Improve your powers of observation, analysis, and synthesis.
196. Provide hands on experiences.
197. Foster educational success.
198. No solution is the answer to any problem.
199. Weigh multiple perspectives.
200. Help students learn by doing.