a strong faith in the ability of students

The best teachers we encountered expect “more” from their students. Yet the nature of that “more” must be distinguished from expectations that may be “high” but meaningless, from the goals that are simply tied to the course rather than to the kind of thinking and acting expected of critical thinkers. That “more” is, in the hands of teachers who captivate and motivate students and help them reach unusually high levels of accomplishment, grounded in the highest intellectual artistic, or moral standards, and in the personal goals of the students.

We found that the best teachers usually have a strong faith in the ability of students to learn and in the power of a healthy challenge, but they also have an appreciation that excessive anxiety and tension can hinder thinking. Thus, while they help students to feel relaxed and to believe in their capacity to learn, they also foster a kind of disquietude, the feeling that stems from intellectual enthusiasm, curiosity, challenge, and suspense, and from the wonderful promises that they make about what students can achieve.

Ken Baine, What the Best College Teachers Do