This fall, I’ve been cleaning out closets and filing cabinets and purging, as they say on Houzz. I didn’t want to—I hoard my teaching materials as if they were gold. But, my husband said, “If you don’t get rid of some of this stuff, we’ll have to build an addition onto the house.”
I don’t quite know why that’s a bad thing…:) Teachers are packrats—you never know when you’re going to need something again to help students and other teachers.
However, apparently we can’t build an addition just for more filing cabinets. So, I’ve started cleaning out my notes on teaching from…well… I started teaching in 1980…
I’ve rediscovered some wonderful things, and I thought I’d share some with you. Here are a few from my filing cabinets:
- First of all for our students (and anyone else who reads): I found this poem by the late great poet Maya Angelou which actually a student drew to my attention years ago (a shout-out to Jessica Chiu formerly at OCA!). It’s about reading, and if there’s anything I know about UG medicine, it’s about the amount of reading you have to do. I hope you find lots of ideas sticking to your mind.
Popcorn leaps, popping from the floor
of a hot black skillet
and into my mouth.
Black words leap,
snapping from the white
page. Rushing into my eyes. Sliding
into my brain which gobbles them
the way my tongue and teeth
chomp the buttered popcorn.
When I have stopped reading,
ideas from the words stay stuck
in my mind, like the sweet
smell of butter perfuming my
fingers long after the popcorn
I love the book and the look of words
the weight of ideas that popped into my mind.
I love the tracks
of new thinking in my mind.
- More for students…and teachers using small group learning: Roles to Assist in Group Learning
Many medical students have told me about their horror stories of group work, either in high school or university. And it’s true…sometimes teachers throw students into groups without advice or support to work things out. Sometimes one student dominates the group; others are couch potatoes and hitch-hikers. Some block consensus, some goof around and still others withdraw. Bearing in mind our adult learners in medical school, and also the concept of self-directed learning, here are 20 (!) roles which students can adopt in groups. So even if a student is an introvert (see the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking), he or she will find some useful roles below. Teachers, you can encourage students by helping them see these roles in their work. (Thanks to my old bosses, Gray Cavenaugh and Ken Styles at the Ontario Ministry of Education. I’d forgotten how good you were!)
Students, practice putting yourself in each of these roles, think of others in the group, and begin developing your group leadership strengths. Teachers, when I used these with students in the past, I asked them to read them over and put a star beside the ones they do, and an exclamation point for a few they’d like to try.
Teachers, do you recall hearing that students learn best with this saying: Tell me; show me; let me try?
It’s actually the first thing I heard about (that I remember) when I hit Teacher’s College all those years ago. Here’s how I translate it into Medical Education:
|What it means||In medical school|
|Tell me: lecture or telling—even assigning reading especially with guides. Learners say, Get me oriented, motivated and let me absorb facts and concepts.||Provide students with facts, characteristics, vocabulary, symptoms, etc. through (mini-) lectures, or readings with questions attached, about medical conditions, systems, and approaches. Our RATs, or quizzes help students process what they’ve been told.|
|Show me: Learners say, Demonstrate how this works so I can see it in action. Give me examples of how it works!||Show students through written or verbal examples–cases you have encountered on how to recognize patterns, how to differentiate among diverse conditions, etc. Video clips and demonstrations are also really useful! A summary of your key findings and learning and the strategy of Think-Aloud (just what it sounds like) from the cases is useful for students to follow your thought processes. Don’t forget to tell them what you ruled in, and what you ruled out and why.|
|Let me try. Learners say, Give me a chance to apply the learning to see if I can do it myself, or if make it work in different situations.||· Provide students with written or verbal cases through which to work, often with a partner or in a group, so that they can learn how to apply the facts and examples you have given them.
· Change up the circumstances: paediatric or geriatric patient; chronic conditions vs. acute conditions, co-morbidities, different presentations or similar presentations with different associated conditions, different points in the illness journey.
· Put students in a simulated learning environment—such as with standardized patients.
· In clerkship, under supervision, allow clerks to apply their learning to patient care.
Key here is to find out if the students have learned through their application (mid-terms, graded team assignments, individual assignments) and observe them in practice (MiniPEx, MiniCEx, field notes, etc.).
So three tips from the files. I found a few more 🙂 Stay tuned…
Have a great fall! I’m looking forward to continuing the dialogue about teaching and learning.
We write these blog articles with ideas, thoughts and strategies, usually for teachers, but often for students too.
We’re always interested in your thoughts, so please feel free to respond.
What’s in your filing cabinet?