“He has a brain the size of Kansas!” a student once said of an MIT professor.

“He is friendly, accessible, pleasant, the most amazing professor ever. I could listen to him for hours and am sad when his class is over.”

“He’s a creative powerhouse,” a student said of another. “When he talks, I listen. It’s just impossible to be bored in his class.”

MIT students say great things about MIT’s great teachers. They say you think that MIT professors are tough, that their classes are something to survive, that they’re scholarly and intimidating, and they dump all this work on you. But when you discover that this person is also actually friendly, caring, and interested in you, it creates a relationship that’s just so great for learning.

Ask MIT students what makes a top teacher, and they say it is someone who is a great communicator and a great motivator. He encourages a friendly atmosphere and works with students one-on-one. He inspires students to demand much of themselves. And he knows his stuff.

Great teaching, they say, is about passion. It’s about listening. Mentoring. Teamwork. And having fun.

Often, students say, words like ‘quantum mechanics’ can invoke terror in their minds and hearts. But a great professor has the amazing ability to transform the fear into fascination. The magic key, they say, is often the teacher’s enthusiasm and love.

“Learning from a good professor, all of a sudden you feel smarter,” one student said, adding that having a great teacher is a gift for a lifetime.