How the Best Teachers Treat Their Students, Matters

At the start we want to acknowledge that most faculty members work hard to treat their students with decency and respect. These are not qualities exclusive to Bain’s “best teachers.” In fact, a quick Internet search brought up several rich resources that consider what respectful behavior in the classroom looks like (Tomlinson, 2011; Respect and disrespect in class, 2004).

Before exploring how the best teachers treat their students, Bain and his colleagues described a fictitious professor – Dr. Wolf – who’s approach was the antithesis of respectful . This composite instructor was characterized by students as “arrogant, did not care about the students, ridiculed some people in class, often bragged about the high numbers of students who flunked (his/her) course, and set harsh and arbitrary demands … a control freak … reluctant to answer questions … seemed to take delight in trying to make students look dumb” (Bain, 2004, pg. 138).

In contrast, the best teachers “displayed not power but investment in the students” (Bain, 2004, pg. 139). Investment in students … what does that look like? Like any investment, surely it begins with a deposit. In addition to disciplinary knowledge, effective instructors can deposit stories of relevant personal experience; questions that keep disciplinary knowledge fresh, relevant, and intriguing; tried-and-true ways to learn course content; and positive statements about each student’s potential.


An investment requires the right environment to grow. Instructors who foster an environment of growth present disciplinary content in ways that helps students actively build their knowledge structures and relate disciplinary concepts to each other and to “every day life.” An environment in which your investment can grow creates and preserves a relationship of mutual respect and trust between professor and student and values what each member has to say. In this verdant environment, corrective feedback is provided in ways that foster students’ efforts. It acknowledges and values the reality that instructors and students are “fellow travelers in search of some small glimpse of ‘truth’” (Bain, 2004,  pg. 143)

As the semester draws to a close, we encourage you to look back and consider the many ways you’ve invested in your students. Like most investments, it may be months or years before you see growth; you may not see it at all. But know with certainty that your investment in your students will have an impact.

The golden rule of conduct
therefore, is mutual toleration,
seeing that we will never
think alike and we shall see
the Truth in fragments and from
different angles of visions. 

-Mahatma Gandhi


Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. (1st ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Respect and disrespect in class. (2004). The Teaching Professor. Retrieved from

Tomlinson, C. A. (2011). One to grown on / respecting students. Educational Leadership, 69(1), 94-95. Retrieved from

MACUL to the Rescue! A Professional Organization for Educators

This post comes to us from guest Blogger Heather Mayernik, Professor of Reading.   If you are a Macomb faculty and have an idea you’d like to share, contact us!  We are always looking for writers.   -CTL staff

It’s dark, an internal cave, there’s a light, gleaming at the edge. Trying to escape from this cave can be near impossible, but when you’re guided, it suddenly becomes much simpler. The same can be said for learning, which is why there are teachers. But sometimes, even teachers need help, need something to supplement their fallible knowledge. There are places that can help educate the educators, show them new techniques to then use in the classroom. One of these is MACUL, the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning.

The Organization
MACUL is a free professional organization.  The staff and members support teachers who desire to learn about technology and integrate it into their classrooms.  Our classrooms at Macomb are full of digital learners, and classroom teaching is enhanced with new media such as video clips and informational slides.  Teachers require students to continue academic conversations outside of the classroom using social media, for example Twitter and Tumblr.  Students share with classmates, and even get help from free internet resources.  As a teacher of these students, we can look to MACUL for help as we master the use of new technology tools and explore ways technology can support instruction with our students.  The best things about MACUL are the website, conferences, and journal, all of which are free to members.

The MACUL Website
The MACUL website offers opportunities to learn and share with other teachers. The website can be accessed at  After signing up, a teacher can read and participate in discussion forums in MACUL SPACE.  Here you can see  some of the current discussions.


Also, there is a link to the Michigan Electronic Library  on the resources page of the MACUL website.  Becoming a member is easy if you have a Michigan library card or driver’s licence.  Here a teacher can find resources and webinars about technology. They can also share this tool with students, and provide them with easily accessible ebooks and databases.

Another helpful link on the MACUL site is The 21 Things for the 21st Century Educator.  This is a free professional development training created by MACUL members and a few ISDs around the state.  Topics including flipping the classroom, online interactive learning tools and computer basics are explored in a hands-on, easy to follow format.  Below are some of the topics to choose from:

  • Evaluation and Assessment
  • Digital story telling
  • Digital Images
  • Virtual Session Recordings
  • Content Area Tools

The MACUL Conference
MACUL offers many small conferences throughout the year; however, the largest conference is located in Detroit’s Cobo Hall over the weekend of March 20-22, 2013.  The theme this year is Blending Technology & Curriculum for Today’s Learner.  This conference attracts national speakers and exhibitors, and more information about the conference is on the MACUL website.
Conference Link

When members sign up for MACUL they have the opportunity to join a special interest group (SIG).  At a MACUL conference SIG’s hold special meetings and pre-conference sessions. These are usually smaller sessions for more individual discussion. This is a great time to meet other teachers interested in similar technologies.
Special Interest Group Sessions

The MACUL Journal
The MACUL quarterly publication that comes with the MACUL membership is delivered to member’s homes.  It is full of helpful articles on current classroom technology practices. Examples of these articles are….
Spring 2013 MACUL Journal
Winter 2013 MACUL Journal

Ultimately, MACUL offers various ways for teachers to better their ability to use technology in the classroom and find new ideas to try. Whether a teacher visits a conference and holds discussions with their fellow educators or reads articles on technology in the available journal, there are multiple ways to learn. It’s always helpful to have a hand guiding through an ever-growing expanse of new ideas, and whether a teacher prefers reading online or talking in person, there is a way for everyone to grow.

How the Best Teachers Conduct Their Class, Matters

During their 15-year study of effective instruction in the classroom, Ken Bain and his researcher-colleagues observed seven common principles that faculty across disciplines used to shape the learning environment in their classes.

  1. They create a natural critical learning environment in which students encounter and develop the skills, habits, and attitudes of the discipline through intriguing questions and authentic activities.
  2. They get students’ attention and keep it, often by beginning each class with a provocative question or problem.
  3. They start with what students know and care about rather than with theoretical disciplinary information.
  4. They ask students for a commitment to the class and their own learning … and they hold students to that commitment.
  5. They help students learn between class meetings rather than focus on “coverage” during class. This “flipped” classroom approach requires students to complete reading assignments and homework before class in order to devote class time to discussion, clarification, and exploration.
  6. They use class time to help students analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information and ideas the way practitioners in the discipline do.
  7. They create diverse learning experiences by presenting information in different formats (visual and auditory), and organizing class material inductively and deductively.

The most effective classroom instructors were skilled at presenting course material through a variety of presentation methods, including lecture. In fact, Bain considered an effective lecture to be integral to creating and sustaining a natural critical learning environment. In this context, lecture was never used to provide an encyclopedic coverage of a subject; rather, lecture was used to present the structure of a subject and students were encouraged to react and interact with that structure through questions and discussion. Bain and his researcher-colleagues identified five elements of effective lecturers:

They begin with a question (sometimes embedded in a story), continue with some attempt to help students understand the significance of the question (connecting it to larger questions, raising it in provocative ways, noting its implications), stimulate students to engage the question critically, make an argument about how to answer that question (complete with evidence, reasoning, and conclusion) and end with questions. The only exception? Sometimes the best teachers leave out their own answers whereas less successful lecturers often include only that element, an answer to a question that no one has raised.” (Bain, 2004, p. 107).


Current Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Marin Alsop, current conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

The Internet is full of ideas on how to lecture effectively. Here are just a few of our favorites:

Simple Keys for Super Lectures: Presentation by Dr. Donald Ritzenhein

The Ten Commandments of Good Instruction, by Dr. Donald Miller

Seven Deadly Sins of Poor Instruction, by Dr. Donald Miller

Show and Tell: Guest Speakers in the Digital Age

It’s past midterms, it’s right before spring break. Even your best students are card-carrying members of the Apathy Club and come to think of it … you’ve started your own count down to the end of the semester.

Well, SNAP OUT OF IT! Or better yet find a guest speaker. Bringing in a guest speaker can change-up the pace and add insights or knowledge that differ from your own.   Thanks to technology,  your guest doesn’t have to travel at all or you can record their one time talk and use it over again next semester or for online.


Through the magic of technology, Professor Steinborn is able to interview speakers from Switzerland, Germany, and France while his students were here in the Detroit Metro-area.  How perfect for an international  business course!  Think of the possibilities of Skyping with peers in Mexico or Egypt for language courses.   Interviewing the author of the course textbook. Artists, CEO’s, Scientists, even your Grandmother in Florida, who know what stories and experiences are out there to share!

Cools tools to use:

  • Adobe Connect - for web Conferencing.
  • Skype - It’s easy and almost everyone has it.  Click here for Skyping in Education.
  • Panopto - use it to capture your live or virtual speaker.

Need to find someone? Check out these options

For tips on this subject check out this website:

Need help setting up the tools to connect with your guest speaker, let us know.  Have you brought in a guest speaker into your class? How did it go? Let us know in the comments.

What the Best Teachers Expect Of Their Students Matters

Bain and his colleagues (2004, pg. 71) asked a series of interesting questions about expectations:

Why do some teachers expect more and get students to produce it with great satisfaction while others fail miserably with what they regard as “higher” standards? Is there something distinctive in the nature of the “more” that our subjects expect? Do the highly successful teachers handle the assignments differently, or possess some other quality that accounts for the results they achieve?

The researchers found that the best college teachers – those who consistently elicit high-quality work from students – possess a series of attitudes and tendencies that inform their approach to teaching. These highly effective instructors are convinced that every student has a perspective or valuable insight to contribute to the class, and they create opportunities for students to develop and express those perspectives and insights. The best college teachers have faith in each student’s abilities and they express that faith to each student individually. They are committed to the idea that every student can and will learn not only intellectual skills as a result of their course, but will also develop and strengthen positive personal and social skills. Because of this belief, these college instructors create learning environments where students are challenged and encouraged to stretch and grow their intellectual, personal, and social skills. The best teachers never lose site of outcomes – course outcomes, assignment outcomes, outcomes for a class session – and they design every learning experience around the outcomes.


Finally, the best college teachers understand that external factors make a difference in student learning. Some external factors are obvious; if a student is hungry or weary or feels threatened, their capacity to perform up to the instructor’s expectations (and their own abilities) is weakened. Other external factors are less obvious but no less effective. A student who feels he or she is viewed as a negative stereotype may be distracted or, worse, face a level of anxiety that can harm his or her performance. The best college teachers understand these important external factors and communicate “positive expectations to students that are genuine, challenging yet realistic, and that take their work seriously” (Bain, 2004, pg. 72)


Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. (1st ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Say Adieu to the Red Pen and Bonjour to Turnitin


Help students turn around their writing using Turnitin.   It’s the next best thing to help student writers since the typewriter … Ok, that may be a stretch but we think that Turnitin has great potential to help our students get better feedback from instructors and peers.  Here is what it offers:

  • An easy and efficient way to deliver electronic feedback to students on their writing assignments.
  • An easy and efficient way to manage and monitor peer evaluations.
  • The ability to leave voice comments for students.
  • Access to rubrics to help your students understand what is being asked of them. 
  • Best of all Macomb has an institutional license and y
  • ou can access it through ANGEL … right now!

imagesCANGPB0EHow to use Turnitin

When people think of Turnitin the first thing that usually comes to mind is anti-plagiarism because it runs a diagnostic report using internet sources and Turnitin’s database of submitted papers for closely borrowed and plagiarized material.  While this tool can be helpful it should be used with care.  As one professor explained, “I don’t want to begin my new relationship with students assuming that they are going to cheat and that my job is to catch them at it. My students are not my adversaries.”  Kudos to this Macomb faculty member, who has her student’s best interests in mind.  So while you may be excited about this feature we strongly suggest that Turnitin should be used as a positive tool rather than a punitive trap.  So forget the originality report for right now.  It’s small beans compared to what else the program allows you to do … and don’t fret, we’ll address this tool in a future post. So check out these cool tools instead.

GradeMark - Allows for 5 different types of engaging and individualized feedback.  You can choose from a variety of pre-made comments,  create your own or leave voice comments.

PeerMark - Easily allows students to have access to each other’s papers and provides for interactive peer feedback.

Rubrics - Connect assignments with grade level appropriate rubrics or create your own.

To get started with Turnitin, access your ANGEL Master shell, go to Lessons and then click Add Content.  Scroll down to Turnitin at the bottom of the screen.  Give your assignment a title to get started. It’s that easy!

Click here for faculmacbook13red2ty focused tutorials

Finally, Something Worth Giving Extra Credit For.

ClipArt-ExtraNews” Is there any extra credit?” Don’t you hate that question?  Even if you are not an extra credit bestowing softy, this might be worth it trying so please read on.  Math Professor Mel Ackerman has an answer to that question and it is YES! Professor Ackerman encourages her students to help themselves by attening Macomb’s Student Succes Seminars.  These offer students an opportunity to learn strategies that will enhance their ability to succeed in college. The seminars, which are free to Macomb students and earn 0.1 CEU (Continuing Education Unit) credit per session, take place in the Learning Centers.   Students need  to bring their student ID to register.  Students who attend 10 or more different sessions during a two year period will be awarded a certificate of completion!

Professor Ackerman has her students register for these seminars through WebAdvisor.  At the end of the semester the students print out thier non-credit transcript.  They are given 2 points for each seminar.  Great idea, right?

2562069-a-pretty-african-american-business-woman-with-thumbs-upHere is how you can kick it up a notch.

If a student chooses to attend a seminar, have them write a short paragraph on what they learned in the seminar and how they have implemented what they learned in their studied, not limited to your course.  Or have your students write out a study plan based on your course.  Now isn’t that worth extra credit?

Click here for the Student Success Seminar Schedule