I started my journey as a teacher using acetates and an overhead projector. I had two hours to teach radiation therapy students about the fascinating topic of Cells and Tissue Types. Try as I might to make squamous and transitional cells interesting, other than some interactive exercises, I did not have many tools to help me engage the learners. I was asked to teach because I was interested, not because I had any training as a teacher or educator. I muddled through, had fairly good evaluations, but had limited knowledge of how adults learn and how I could best facilitate that learning.
Over the years, I became more interested in education theory, had more opportunities to teach and ended up with a formal education role at a post-secondary institution. That was when things got really interesting. I was introduced to a whole new world. The institution expected all staff to take part in faculty development. Comprehension and analysis of the material became the focus of the students learning, rather than rote recall of facts. We had the opportunity to use simulated learning, online platforms, and small group tutorials and to develop valid and reliable assessments. It was an exciting time to be teaching and led to an even greater interest in learning how adults learn and how to assess that learning. In graduate studies in education, I realized that even with all the faculty development opportunities available to me, I had only begun to scratch the surface and still had so much to learn.
In my role at Sunnybrook as Director of Health Professions I know that we have many, many excellent teachers who facilitate learning everyday with little formal training. They are those natural teachers, who have had excellent role models and truly care about the learners. But, as clinical teachers, we also need to constantly improve our teaching because we have a huge responsibility to the next generation of health professionals and their patients. In order to do this, we must make ourselves familiar with current educational research and best practice in education to ensure that our students become clinically skilled and competent professionals.
You have all seen the posters around campus that say, “ We are all Teachers, We are All Learners”. I challenge everyone at Sunnybrook to acquire one new skill or tool for your teaching toolbox in the next year. A good place to begin will be at our very first Educator Expo that will be held on October 4th, 2012. Mark your calendars as it will be a packed agenda and an opportunity to learn about learning, learn about teaching and learn about yourself as a teacher and a learner.
See you there.
Director, Health Professions, IPE/IPC