Listen to the learner, and adjust the teaching to their needs.
Not all students learn in the same way. Some people learn by doing and touching, some learn by watching and others may learn by listening. To be an effective educator we need to assess our students and learn how they learn best. From here we need to be flexible in the delivery of our teachings and adjust them to the learners need.
By being able to customise our teaching to meet the needs of the learner (which requires us to have a lot of theoretical knowledge on the topic), we are providing 'holistic education'.
Set clear objectives.
Objectives can be anything from small written essays, a few homework questions, and exam or even working independently under supervision. It is important to set objectives throughout your time with a student, they act as goals and milestones and will reinforce the learning.
One of the biggest objectives I set for students (when I have them for 6 weeks) is to practice independently by the last week under my direct supervision. This gives them a goal to work towards, and once completed allows the learner to feel accomplished.
Give clear feedback.
Feedback is so important! At the end of every day with a student, I will ask them four questions: 'what went well?', 'what could have gone better?', 'what have you learnt?' and 'what will we be doing differently tomorrow?'. Not only does this allow the student to reflect on their day (which we all know is super important in nursing) but it allows me to provide feedback to the learner.
It's also important to debrief and provide students with feedback after an adverse event. Take for example the time we had an anaphylactic reaction. It was difficult for my student to get involved in the situation because of the seriousness of it, but at the end I could talk to my student and discuss what had happened and use it as an opportunity for learning.
We've all had that boring lacklustre teacher before. Well, let's not be like them. Nursing is a fun and rewarding career, so use the opportunity to be positive and fun with your student.
Have a sense of humour.
Learning isn't boring. In fact, it can be fun if we approach it correctly. It's easy to become 'used' to our work areas because we are there every day. But, for a student it's all new and exciting. Show them the interesting and quirky things that happen, seek out fun activities and have a sense of humour. A little fun and cheerfulness never hurt anyone.
Be reflective on your own practice.
Being a good teacher relies on us to reflect on our own practice. Do you remember everything you were taught during your bachelor's degree? I know I don't, but I like to go back every so often and re-read important concepts. Its also important to reflect on our practice to ensure that it is still up-to-date as healthcare is an ever-evolving field.
Bring practical relevance to theoretical concepts.
Teaching mechanical ventilation? Sure the theory is important (and can be overwhelming) so why not grab a spare ventilator and show off the concepts in a practical way. Not only does this make learning more fun, but it also reinforces the theory.
Be their friend!
Anaesthesia & Critical Care Nurse, Leader & Teacher