Saturday, August 8, 2015

teaching a teacher

I recently spent 20 hours in class. As a student. I learned a lot.

I learned about teaching.

First was 12 hours, split in three sessions, on communication and self-care. These are topics I teach to nursing and Reiki students. The delivery was verbose PowerPoint slides; two instructors read the slides to us for 10 of the 12 hours.

Second was an 8-hour class on laboratory values. The delivery was verbose PowerPoint slides; the instructor read the slides to us for 8 hours.

All the instructors were smart, skilled, compassionate, and experienced. They had a plethora of important information in their heads and hearts. But. Their delivery was at either end of a super-cute-adore-me and monotone continuum. They read PP slides to us. They cut off audience questions and comments, saying "I have a lot of content to cover." They ignored, alienated their audience, who were also smart, skilled, compassionate, and experienced. Their content delivery method assaulted and insulted the learners.

This is what I learned:
* reading PP slides for hours, in a monotone, is an assault on the student
* if you focus on content rather than student, you risk alienating student
* it's more important to engage the student than to cover every single bit of content
* teaching is a skill
* answer questions, encourage pertinent sharing of info
* interact, engage, excite the learner

There were ten students at the lab class: 5 RNs, 3 NPs, and 2 physicians. The NPs were: 2 nurse midwives and one pedi-psych NP. The RNs were 1 ICU RN from Colorado who was able to share a few fascinating facts about high-altitude care (before being shut down by instructor), 3 hospital nurses, and me.

The lab class instructor read PP slides to us. She listed common lab tests and read to us how to remember normal values, and a few facts about the tests. Why do I need to remember the normal values? I don't. They are listed alongside the found value on computer screens. One no longer needs to memorize normal values. One will memorize them anyway if used daily. Why spend my valuable time telling me how to memorize?

I learned that I already know facts about the lab tests.

This is what I wanted to do in this class. I wanted to get into small groups with the other incredible students and do case studies. Give me a list of a patient's lab values and let us interpret, form a picture. Interact with others.

Instead I sat in a room with 9 intelligent and experienced healthcare professionals and never spoke to them. Never learned from them.

The communication/self-care class: best part was role-playing. That was interactive and engaging. We all woke up for that.

Adult education: engage the learner.