Oh, to be that truly spectacular teacher!

Teachers generally teach…competently. Generally.

Some are simply not as good.

A few are abysmal.

Occasionally, just once in a great while, one encounters a truly spectacular teacher. What makes these people different? What makes them just sparkle, and grab everyone’s attention? How can they make it stick, when no one else can? Is it just the person, or is it a set of learnable behaviours?

Yes, some have a knack. Some naturally, are simply gifted to do the behaviours that Lemov has listed and explained for you. This man went across the continent, rooting out those amazing teachers, and finding out what made their approaches different. It’s OK to cheat, you know. You’re the teacher!

Would you like to be that truly spectacular teacher?

Haags UIT Festival 2010 - Dance Works Rotterdam Maurice via Compfight

Most professors of medicine teach as they were taught. We teach reasonably well on the ward, but in the classroom, well… you’d better leave the lights on. If you’re a classroom teacher, you owe it to yourself to explore this list of strategies for good classroom teaching. It’s developed for the K-12 teacher, but many are applicable to any large group adult teaching situation, and many smaller group settings outside a traditional classroom, such as bedside.

Want some easy examples? There are hiding places in classrooms. They’re the back corners. Make sure you do some cold calls out there. Cold calls? That’s asking someone that doesn’t have a hand up. (Do you even ask questions, or just present your slides?) Use their name, politely. Then what do you do? You don’t rescue them! You wait for it! Wait…wait… for it! What do you do with a less than satisfactory response? Thank them politely, and see if there’s anything in there you can break down, so they can build it back up, better. If they can’t, ask an eager beaver. Then come back to that struggler, and ask him to rephrase it.

Whoops! That’s teaching! That’s not what we do in medicine, is it? Why, we present the data, quote the reference, and expect students to vacuum it up. Medical school, ongoing continuing medical education, you name it. Put on the slide projector (or laptop nowadays), turn out the lights, and pray to God strong coffee comes.

Medicine is aching for a paradigm shift in teaching. Be a part of it.

Read this man’s book. There’s a couple of links below where you can get a taste.

Yes, I know you’re a grown up professor for grown ups. Swallow your pride and look at some amazing teachers of little kids. Open your mind. These people, these professionals, can teach us something. Something? Maybe introduce us to a whole new landscape…