At the start of my career, I was forever forged with clinical acumen due to one single nurse, Marea Reading. If you do not know her, you should. Marea was a nurse at St Vincent’s in Sydney and she to this day remains a nursing demi-god to me and to many.
Why? For an absolute variety of reasons including having a knowledge of cardiothoracic medicine and surgery that is unsurpassed even by many medical registrars I have met but predominantly because she was the best damn teacher, I have ever met.
She would come to the ward or unit, show you an ECG, talk through it, follow up, ask, enquire, and generally, she just loved what she did, and she wanted to share that love, with eager new minds. She was a true inspiration.
She taught me the power of getting to know your students well enough to teach them. She personalized the experience of education, that was powerful. It was not about compliance and ticking boxes, it was about passion.
In 2020 I see Nurses getting shuffled through the system designed as a factory model of compliance “Have you done your mandatories” “Are you compliant” and that can de-value the opportunity. The “good teachers” I have been lucky enough to cross paths with, all paid attention to the students as individuals, addressing their needs with cultural sensitivity, and sought active support of peers. This is where the challenges begin. The capacity to deliver education in modern nursing can be weakened due to misguided top-down policies, funding cuts, and staff shortages. To do their jobs fully educators need basic resources and they should be viewed as experts on what their learners need. Feedback is a key component in the assessment of the individual. If the teacher can allow the learner to understand their strength and derive and ability to connect what they are learning to their future ambitions they can have great sway within the process.
Self-directed learning in nursing is always an interesting talking point. The analogy that teachers encourage the students “go home and look it up” vs an ability to empower a student to drive the investigative learning process. By breaking things down into bite-size chunks we can assess comprehension regularly and not intimidate learners with masses of information in a world where we have data at our fingertips.
As I move forward, I wonder what it is to be a good teacher? What I see is that it does not always take a commitment of following a rigid list of the most popular evidence-based tools and strategies; it comes from the teacher’s ability to know and respect the learner. What matters most is the opportunity to build a personal connection with your student, and then deliver on a commitment to provide a well-considered offer to improve their position and guide or facilitate their journey.
The co-commitment of a good teacher to nurturing the student is learning from other teachers. This is a true prize. If you struggle or find barriers you confer and grow with those around you. To act intentionally to progress and identify the future challenges for the team and industry is a progressive attribute that leadership must culture. Building quality or enhancement to the process of education is essential for engagement and relevance and this within nursing can lack. But within the Virtual Reality world is an utter flame of true innovation. Globally, teachers from all industries are currently magnetically attracted to learn and understand innovation to push immersive learning forward but also through concepts such as Artificial Intelligence and various new learning tools.
If you are a teacher or a learner, it is up to us to push for what is good but importantly what has value. If we keep in mind that the people who set the policies for how we do education are not the people who do education and that we must push and insist that the “good teachers” are those that help shape policies and build the structures of the systems that involve us.