As an instructor, I often feel that the end of a semester is both the most joyous and most disappointing time of the semester. I am able to reflect upon the positive achievements of those who have successfully completed my course, but my mind tends to gravitate towards the students who were not successful. I find myself constantly thinking about what I could have done differently in the course and the measures I could implement that could positively impact student success. I have now concluded that it is not as much about changing the resources I am using to teach as much as how I am supporting students who are at risk of not being successful.
It is graduation 2016, and we reflect on the significance of this culminating event. This year, I am reminded of the gifts of knowing, learning, and becoming. I am reminded of our College values. Following is something I sent to recent program graduates:
Dear 2016 graduates,
We have spent tremendous time in one another’s company over the past number of years, in courses ranging from Accounting 1 to Payroll, Tax, and Managerial Accounting, and covering topics from basic debits and credits to complex statistical regression analysis. You have mastered the technical and employability skills so necessary for your success in this field. Yet, my wishes for you extend far beyond the campus and employment settings.
Do you recall when we discussed the difference between cost and price? But how about worth? This is not another accounting lesson, but a parallel to your lives and futures. It is about one of our most important NWTC values: Everyone has worth. Know that each of you is inherently valuable and uniquely significant: Linda’s good nature, Martha’s tenacity, Becky’s positive, quiet leadership, Sergio’s witty antics, Tanya’s no-nonsense style, Tracy’s gentle spirit, Patrick’s offbeat quirkiness, Nancy’s patience and care, and Jen’s beautiful smile and kind heart.
Transcending academics, maybe the most important knowing is knowing who you are; knowing your identity. And maybe the most important learning is learning to honor your own merit in the choices you make and people with whom you surround yourselves. And maybe your most important job is to discover your own humanity; your ability to love and be loved, in respecting others’ humanity.
I hope you value yourselves enough to intuitively protect your humanity and guard your consciousness. I hope you respect yourselves enough to allow close to you only those who genuinely regard your self-worth and emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. And, I hope you are able to embrace the divine worth of yourselves and others in all that you do.
I know I have had the complete privilege of teaching your classes, but I have also learned so much from you. Thank you for lifting me up this past year and for making my job so very rewarding.
Take good care, and look after yourselves . . . you’re worth it!
Introduction to Clinical Practice is the first nursing clinical that students will encounter in either the Practical or Associate Degree Nursing programs. The setting for this clinical is the long-term care environment and often where students will encounter clients who may take a numerous amount of medications. Nursing Pharmacology is taught in the first semester as well—–students will start with pharmacology and then move in to clinical once they have some information under their belts. As instructors, we strive to bring the “classroom into the clinical”! Last semester, I had the pleasure of taking over a Pharmacology classroom for a colleague while teaching the clinical associated with the pharmacology class. LIGHTS BULBS WENT OFF! I knew students were struggling with pharmacology in the clinical setting as well as the classroom setting; how could I remedy this? Well, let me tell you what I did!
While watching “Maleficent”, I decided to get my scrapbooking material out. I had BRIGHT colored paper, my circle cutters, AND GLITTER GLUE! Shiny object syndrome was in full affect for me. I tend to recall things better with color and shininess (is that a word?), so maybe my students would too! I began cutting multiple circles of many many different bright colors. I grabbed my marker and started writing medication names on those circles. Before I knew it, the glitter glue was on those circles as I traced the medication names with the glitter glue and my table was FULL of “pills”. Once they dried, I punched holes in the top and put a ring through them. I now had a “wheel of pills”. So you are probably wondering, “what in the world are you going to do with those things?” Well, let me tell you………………………………….
I carried this “wheel of pills” in my scrub pockets at clinical. Randomly throughout clinical, I would pull out the “Wheel of pills”, approach a student and ask them to “pick a pill”. I would then proceed to ask them to tell me what the medication was and what they know about that medication. At first, students were panicked. HOWEVER, eventually, the students started asking me to pull the “Wheel of pills” out and to ask them questions. Towards the end of clinical near the end of the semester with a Pharmacology FINAL exam looming over them, students would play games with the “Wheel of Pills”. It was great to see them accept this strategy so readily as was watching them bring that classroom learning into clinical AND clinical learning into the classroom! It has been a HUGE success and I will for sure continue with it!
How often have you said to your students, “don’t just memorize this, but learn it for life”? I know that I say it almost every day, but does it really stick? I can honestly answer that. Teaching throughout both the Practical Nursing and Associate Degree Nursing programs from start to finish, the answer to that is NO!!!!!!! Well, alright, we always have SOME students who do commit their skills to memory and never forget what step comes when; but, we also have those students who memorize the check off list and forget it the minute the check off is complete. How can we get our students to understand that we really are speaking the truth? How could I, the instructor, assist my students in reviewing their skills and truly understanding what the steps are? And more importantly, why is it important for them to remember their skills steps? Well, let me tell you!
After my students take their State Board exam for nursing(NCLEX), I often follow up with them and ask questions as to how the Boards went. I ask questions that are very detailed oriented: what kind of questions did you have, how many were “select all that apply”, how many of each type/area of nursing(pharmacology, Med/Surg, Mental Health, OB, Fundamentals, Math, etc). and so on. I believe this helps me to develop new activities that will prep my students for the biggest exam of their lives and familiarize themselves with what to expect. Imagine my surprise this year, when I learned that the NCLEX exam had several of my students put nursing skills in the correct order of performance! Immediately, I knew exactly what I was going to do to assist my students to be successful in this area! Basic Nursing Skills is taught in the first semester of both programs and I teach the clinical that is associated with that class: Introduction to Clinical Practice. This clinical is taught in the long-term care environment. There are times that this clinical has some “down-time” and I knew this activity would be perfect to complete at this level! I have taken the Basic Nursing Skills check off lists, cut out each individual step and placed them on flashcards. During clinical, I will randomly give a student a set of flashcards with the directions to place them in correct chronological order! What an amazing opportunity to take the classroom learning and apply it to the real-life clinical setting; in the words of a wise Nurse Educator, “This is where the rubber meets the road”! I cannot wait to try this during the semester. Completing this teaching strategy will allow me to assist my students in being successful. Repeatedly exposing them to the nursing skills will allow them to commit these important tasks to memory and help them to be prepared for their NCLEX exam! Stay tuned for the results!
Research shows that a student’s health directly affects his or her educational achievement and capacity to learn (Mcglynn, 2004). The Wellness and Health Promotion students at NWTC complete a variety of courses to foster their own personal wellness growth.
In discovering their own journey towards wellness, these students will be better equipped for being professionals in the field and more adequately prepared to guide others towards making healthy lifestyle choices. By discovering and sharing their own success stories, the students have become a motivating and supportive cohort. They are living examples of the program.
My challenge to you as faculty is to be sure to promote health and wellness not only in your everyday life, but also to your students. Simple things, such as offering positive stress management techniques for students, or encouraging school/life balance can go a long way in regard to student success. Students who are in touch with the various dimensions of wellness will have a greater likelihood of persistence in all areas of their lives.
Healthy Schools, Healthy Students. Mcglynn, Cindy. CrossCurrents – The Journal of Addiction and Mental Health, Autumn, 2004, Vol.8(1), p.14(2)
Do your first-year students struggle to move beyond memorization and thinking to learning and applying? You can support your first-year students with methods and practices that will improve their abilities to problem solve, analyze, and draw conclusions.
Your practices within and outside the classroom are critical for enabling your first-year students to successfully transition into higher learning. As you prepare to teach your next first-year course, consider these ideas:
- Active Classroom Learning – First-year students need plenty of hands-on practice applying concepts. Keep lecture time short, and intersperse activities that give students the opportunity to make use of higher level reasoning and problem solving.
- In-Class Reviews – Because first-year students may lack study skills, it is beneficial to help them develop these skills for test preparation. A thoughtfully created review that encourages problem solving and analytical skills can be completed in class to ensure students are effectively working through the study process.
- Classroom Office Hours – Students may be hesitant to make use of instructor office hours, especially those in first-year courses. Make it easy for them to access you outside of class time by moving your office hours to a classroom setting. In addition to breaking down barriers for approachability, this also allows you to serve groups of students more easily.
- Service Learning – Service learning offers the opportunity for students to simultaneously serve the community, gain career skills, and earn course credit. Accounting students taking the Computerized Tax class participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) service learning project, in which they provide basic tax preparation services to low- and moderate-income households. This is a great way for students to gain real-world experience, apply concepts, and meet a community need.
These ideas will help you transform your first-year students’ habits and thinking into skills that promote higher learning.
Almost everyone wants to experience their Day in the Spotlight, their 15 minutes of fame. Now is your chance to give them that notoriety, motivate your students, and celebrate their success all at the same time! Continue reading
I am teaching an entire room full of returning students entering into the Practical Nursing Program. That means yes, they have all been successful already. They all have acquired years of work experience and great healthcare stories to share in the classroom. They are VERY excited to be back at NWTC and let me share with you why.
Would your students benefit from further developing their non-technical skills so critical for successful employment? Consider the role service learning could play in fostering these important virtues! Continue reading