Log in to:

Teacher's Corner

Teaching tips from the Teacher's Aide Newsletter.

Our Latest Tip

From the 2018 May issue

Tips to Improve Attendance

In last month’s survey, 64% of respondents said the most common conduct/behavioral issue at their school has to do with attendance (i.e., absenteeism, tardiness, etc.). That’s unfortunate, because poor attendance almost always leads to low achievement. There are many factors that affect attendance: personal responsibilities, socioeconomic status, social issues, feeling anxious while at school, school climate and staff morale, poor time management in general, and yes, even their relationship (or lack thereof) with the teacher(s).

While many of the reasons for attendance issues are out of our control, there are a few things teachers can do to help improve overall attendance. It’s primarily about developing relationships:

  1. Be passionate about teaching and helping students learn. It may sound obvious, but students respond better to challenges when they have observed that you are passionate about helping them do well in your subject matter.
  2. Show students they are important to you. Again, sounds obvious, but students are far more likely to show up if they know you genuinely care about them.
  3. Consistently enforce your attendance policy. Consistency is more important than the policy itself. If you bother to have a written policy, you’ve got to be consistent in its enforcement. Students will respect you for following your own rules.
  4. Get their support people involved. If you can somehow get their families or other support people to see the value of them coming to class regularly and on time, they may get some additional motivation at home. Invite support people to orientation, open houses, or schedule a special family and friends night. Building relationships with students is easier if you show them that you care about them and their extended network.
  5. If your school does community outreach, encourage students to get involved. If students feel connected to the school’s outreach programs in the community, they are more likely to be committed to the program in general, because they will see the value beyond grades. And participating in community outreach events with your students helps you to create those stronger relationships with them.
  6. Most importantly, improve your own teaching skills. Students like to come to classes where they are succeeding. And they are more likely to succeed if you are good at teaching them. We can all improve our outcomes by regularly participating in various continuing education opportunities specific to teaching skills.

(Shameless Plug: Attend some of our free Teacher Webinars.)

2018 April

Communication Class Activity: Emotional Growth

Use the following classroom activity to help students develop a program of emotional growth and understanding of others. You should plan for 30 minutes or an hour.

Procedure: Begin the activity with a statement such as, “Understanding human behavior is an ongoing process. This activity is aimed at helping you start to develop your own program of emotional growth and understanding of others. Take time to reflect as you feel the need.”

  1. Have learners review the material in Chapter 4 of The Ethics of Touch, 2nd edition, particularly the section on strong emotions.
  2. Give the following instructions: “Write a brief emotional history. Choose either the significant moments in your life or your emotional fluctuations during the last week. Write as much detail as you can.” After several minutes say, “As you’re doing this activity, notice the physiological responses in your body. What do you feel? Where do you feel it? Does it make sense? Does it matter to you if it makes sense? Are you comfortable with this process?”

Discussion: What did you discover about yourself? Did your physical sensations change during the course of this activity? How have your emotional responses changed over time (particularly for those who focused on an extended timeline, rather than a single week)? How might this experience increase your understanding or empathy for others? How might it change your responses to other people’s emotions? When you observe the emotional expressions of others in the future, what frame of mind might you choose to have in order to create greater rapport?

2018 March

Remember, while you are trying to impart appropriate skills that practitioners need to be successful, your students are also students (and many of them are returning to school after several years). They all need some basic skills for returning to school, and you can easily fit those “life skills” into your classes.

Here’s a quick YouTube video you can share with your students to get the conversation started around getting organized and building a supportive network. These skills help them with their practice-building later.

2018 February

Attentive students If student classroom behavior is periodically an issue for you, or if you have trouble understanding the needs and motivations of younger students, here are a few ways to frame your learning environment that can help students focus and help you get your classroom back on track.

Adapted from an article by Deborah Miller Fox called Six Ways to Promote a Positive Learning Environment.

2018 January

Do You Use Powerpoint?

In a recent discussion on EdNet (a Facebook group for massage educators), teachers were discussing the pros and cons, mostly cons, of using PowerPoint®. Some say that it may have become too much of a crutch, causing teachers to rely too heavily on slides to deliver content. Rather, slides should introduce topics or show appropriate images, and the teacher should deliver content for practice or discussion.

Teachers can deliver the content verbally, or by writing/drawing on the board, or by demonstration, or by any other creative means. But standing there waiting for students to copy what they see on the PowerPoint® slide seems to be less engaging (and it’s even worse if the teacher reads the slide out loud to the students!).

You may argue that giving the students copies (digitally or by handout) of the slides reduces the time spent waiting for students to take their own notes. I wonder, though, when students don’t have to take notes, how many students are paying good attention to the content while it’s being delivered and how many are thinking to themselves, “I’ll study the slides/notes later” but they never actually do that. (Maybe that’s a note-taking discussion for later.)

Overall, the use of presentation slides probably depends on the subject being taught, and the personal preferences of the teacher. If you do use PowerPoint® or any other program for presentation slides, here are a few tips for making the most effective use of your slides:

2017 December

Discussing Current Events

The recent news explosion regarding sexual assault cases in the entertainment industry, politics, and massage naturally means we will be having these discussions in our classrooms and on our campuses. Are you using this opportunity to discuss ethical situations in our own industry, or simply bashing the giant corporation bad-guys? That might be harsh, but we really need to think about how to use this situation in an educational way, understanding that many of your graduates may go on to work in a franchise establishment. How do you handle this delicate, but important, topic?

This doesn’t have to be a discussion about sexual assault specifically. We all know what touch behaviors are appropriate and not appropriate. There is a big difference between an accidental boundary crossing (which still could result in a client having an intense reaction – especially if the client has been assaulted in the past) and a criminal act. This can be a discussion about the ethical dilemma for the front desk person, or manager, or clinic/spa owner, or coworker who receives the report of inappropriate conduct. This can be a discussion about having policies in place to support those employees in making good decisions with the information they receive. This can be a discussion about the difference between unethical behavior and illegal behavior and who makes that decision.

Classroom Discussions

Give a background on policies and procedures, if you haven’t reached that point in your curriculum yet.

Discuss client rights and expectations.

Discuss the difference between inadvertent boundary crossings and clear violations.

Discuss what to do when the complaint sounds like an assault. Here are some potential questions to ask yourself, as a caring human being in a difficult situation:

[The Ethics of Touch and Business Mastery are excellent tools for these discussions and to encourage further study both during school and after graduation.]

You may hear statistics that say those 180 sexual assault accusations occurred over a 15-year period among the 125 million massages that were given in that time period. While statistically that may be a relief, remember that most assaults in any situation go unreported (whether at a business or private practitioner's office). And, there are many cases that get settled out of court that we will never hear about. Try to avoid discussing these details. The point is… if a crime has possibly been committed, in any situation, the victim should be encouraged to contact the authorities immediately. In fact, if you are not prepared as an educator to stand firmly on the side of the potential victim, you should get out of massage education right now.

School Administration Discussions

The massage profession does not support or promote inappropriate behavior. Unfortunately, the intimate environment just happens to give predators a better chance at the opportunity. Can we, as educators, take a stronger stand on who we let into this profession? Many people say you cannot tell a predator when he or she is sitting in your admissions office enrolling in your program. However, are there signs during the 6 or 9 or 12 months that student is on your campus? There may or may not be any signs, especially if the predator is particularly skilled at deception. If there is any doubt, and certainly if there is any evidence or accusation during their training, the educators must take action before this person attains a license and has the opportunity to hurt someone. How strict are your student conduct policies?

The safety of everyone involved (clients, practitioners, students, and educators) is at stake here. We must take responsibility when we have the opportunity. By the way, this holds true whether you are part of a school or run a massage business. Don’t miss the opportunity to address this subject on your campus.

2017 November

Rubrics - A Quick Overview

We often get questions from teachers on how to create good rubrics or how to use them effectively. So, let’s talk a bit about rubrics.

Rubrics need to be descriptive. The problem is, they are usually written with evaluation in mind. Of course, you will use them to evaluate your students, but if you focus on describing the performance criteria clearly, then the assessment part is easy.

First, you need a list of the skills and abilities that you expect your students to demonstrate in the assessment. Include subcategories to allow for more descriptions of performance. Then, for each category and subcategory, define what evidences that skill or ability at each level of performance. How would an average student demonstrate that skill or ability? How would an above average student demonstrate that skill or ability? And how would a below-average student demonstrate that they still have some work to do? You need a separate description for each level of performance.

Important: Use your own language. It is confusing to students if you lecture and demonstrate in your voice, but your rubrics and assessments are written in a more textbook-style, or worse, someone else’s language altogether. Use the same terminology that your students have heard you use in the classroom all along.

When you use the rubric to evaluate your students, take notes. When necessary, explain (in writing) why your observation led you to choose one performance level over another. These notes are often more important to the students success than their final grade on the assessment.

Super Important: Use the rubrics to evaluate yourself too! When you see a pattern of low performance in a large number of your students for a particular skill or ability, re-evaluate your own teaching methods. Maybe they aren’t getting it because you could be delivering that material in a different (and more effective) way.

2017 October

Marketing Class Activity: Identify Your Ideal Client

If you are teaching business but you are not teaching your students how to identify their ideal client, they may really struggle with marketing in the future. To illustrate the importance of target marketing, include this activity in the marketing section of your business course.

Identify your ideal client by answering the following questions:

Given your answers, who would be most easily attracted to working with you? Who would you really enjoy being around?

2017 September

Give Your Students Instruction on How to Positively Affect the Learning Environment

With each group of new students, we try to bring as many resources as we can to the classroom, to improve the effectiveness of the learning experience and environment. But remember, it is okay to give students direct instruction on what they can bring to the classroom as well. As the new term begins, give your students some expectations beyond the syllabus, to help them (and you) get the most out of the learning experience.

As an example, Dr. Weimer gives her students a memo at the beginning of the semester that begins:

This is just a brief note to let you know how committed I am to making this a good course. But I can’t do my best teaching without your help. So, I thought I’d share a list of things you can do that will make this a better experience for all of us.

She goes on to explain each of the items on her list: Be There, Participate, and Help Me Get to Know You. Read her entire memo to students, and maybe adapt it for your own classroom.

2017 August

The Value of Teaching Charting

Diana Thompson Interview

This month’s teaching tip is a video tip with Diana L. Thompson, author of the Hands Heal book, and creator of the online health records system HandsHealEHR. You may know the importance of teaching charting to your students, but it is also important to make clear the distinction between wellness charting and treatment charting. When your students are prepared for both, they are prepared for any work environment—private practice, employment, or variations of each. In this video, Diana makes it pretty si mple to understand this distinction, and talks about the value that charting brings to our clients.

2017 July

The End of Class is Just as Important as the Beginning

Usually, we are focused on what to do at the beginning of each class: outline what we will be doing today, review what we learned last time, administer a quiz, share the specific learning objectives for the day. And then we proceed with our lesson plan, winding down to the end of class… sometimes running out of time. If we don’t plan accurately, students often start packing up to leave a few minutes early, even when we are still talking or finishing up an activity. If you want your students to actually think about the relevance of your course content, organization is just as important as that content (maybe more).

Make your day more effective by planning to end the learning and activity phases of your class 10-15 minutes early. Give yourself and your students some breathing space to integrate the material you covered that day. Have your students summarize, in their own words, the topics and ideas you covered. Give them a sample problem to solve, or an ethical dilemma to consider. Have them write down their reactions to the day’s lesson and be prepared to share the next time. Give them questions, not answers, to keep them thinking about your subject-matter until you meet again.

2017 June

Marketing Class Activity: Creating and Collecting Student Business Cards Digitally

Helping students come up with marketing materials for their future practices is a worthwhile activity in any Business or Professionalism course. Here’s an option for creating and collecting marketing materials like business cards, while remaining environmentally conscious: no paper products necessary.

  1. Have students go to VistaPrint and create 3 sample business cards (they do not need to purchase cards to create sample designs online). Have them screenshot each of the 3 designs they create, so that they have 3 image files to submit.
  2. Create a wall on Padlet (or a similar online collaboration site), and share the link with your students.
  3. Have students add their business card image files to a post on your wall. Add comments directly to their posts, for individual feedback. You may also allow students to comment on each other’s posts, for more feedback opportunities and in-class discussion potential.
  4. If this is a required activity, you can confirm each student’s participation based on their posts and feedback discussions.

For additional activities, create a wall for sample brochures, sample gift certificates, sample postcards, etc.

2017 May

Change the Listener, Change the Discussion

This month’s tip comes from Jodi Wiley, an instructor at Lansing Community College in Lansing, MI.

I was teaching through the rationale for Positional Release. This includes diving back into the anatomy that most students gladly left behind a few semesters ago. We talk through basic afferent and efferent message pathways, golgi tendon organs, spindle cells, and even annulospiral and flower spray neurons! After the lesson, I had them summarize the lesson in their own words to a partner as if they were telling another massage therapist who didn't know the information. THEN, I had them share with another partner as if they were sharing the rationale with a client (very different).

It worked SO WELL! I'll definitely use that trick again for Positional Release class, but also others. Yay!

Thank you for sharing this, Jodi. It’s super important to practice explaining what we are doing and why we are doing it. But it’s even more important to practice varying our explanations and discussions based on the actual person listening. We have to find out the listener’s perspective and knowledge base, and then describe in appropriate terminology that they can understand (without being too simplistic or condescending). Sometimes that takes a lot of practice.

Well done, Jodi and Lansing Community College!

2017 April

Creating Instructional Videos

As we acquire more and more students with technological savvy, we may decide to become more technological ourselves. If you are creating (or considering) instructional videos, here are some tips adapted from a recent article by Michael Smedshammer on the FacultyFocus website.

  1. Lose the headset — You look more natural, and most built-in microphones are as good as headsets.
  2. Shorter is better — As you well know, our students have short attention spans. Most marketing experts say not to go longer than 3 minutes in a video. Yikes! We do have a bit more leeway with instructional videos, but you may lose them if you go longer than 5-10 minutes in a stretch. So, break-up longer topics into several different videos.
  3. Don’t read the script — Sure, write a script and practice that script; when it comes to recording, just wing it. Then your video appears much more like who you are in the classroom.
  4. Position your camera so you are looking up at it — No one wants to see your nostrils, and students sure don’t want to be talked down to. The best view shows your head, shoulders, and upper torso.
  5. Choose an appropriate location, and change it up — Classroom or office make good choices, even your home office (unless it’s in a bedroom). If you do multiple videos, change up the location so students don’t get bored with the same background. Even changing the angle of your camera can make a difference.
  6. Look directly at the camera — Don’t look around or off to the side to read your notes, look right into the camera lens. Anything else looks weird.
  7. Cover up your screen — Seeing yourself on your computer screen while you are recording can be distracting.
  8. Smile — Smiling makes you look and sound more enthusiastic.
  9. Don’t over do the editing — The fancy music and transitions that come with most video editing software can actually make you look like a bit amateur-ish (the pros don’t really even use those things).

2017 March

Virtual Guest Speakers

Do you invite local experts to your classroom to share real-life information and experiences with your students? Why limit yourself to your local community? With live video conferencing tools like Skype or Zoom, you can bring in guest speakers from anywhere around the globe. Here are a few ways you can connect your classroom to the larger world of wellness education:

As with any guest speaker, ask your students to prepare ahead of time with relevant material to generate questions for the guest. And, since you will be using technology, remember to do a practice run!

While I agree, students really need to know what works and doesn’t work in their own communities, hearing from experts in other states (or countries!) can extend their learning experiences and help them develop a broad understanding of the field they are about to enter.

2017 February

Brainstorming Review

If you are the type to review just before a test, you probably stand at the front of the class and quiz your students verbally over the basic topic or topics to be covered before you hand it out. Next time, try using this brainstorming activity to help some of that quick review to stick in their brains a bit longer. (Plan for 10-15 minutes for this activity to be most effective.)

  1. Have students pull out a piece of blank paper.
  2. Ask them to write all the words or ideas they know about the selected topic. (If there are multiple topics covered on the test, this may need to be a multi-step process so they can brainstorm each topic separately.)
  3. Next, have them exchange their brainstorming paper with a partner to see if they missed anything. Each student adds any words or ideas to their paper that they may have missed.
  4. Allow the students to look over their brainstorming papers for an additional minute or two, then have them give you their papers before handing out the test.

Once they finally take the test, the students will have already activated their long-term memories of the concepts and vocabulary for the selected topics, and writing them down just minutes before helped to establish current physical memories. It may just give that student with test anxiety the extra boost needed to succeed on the test.

2017 January

Prepare for Learning Success in the New Year

Post these study tips in your classroom, to help students prepare for success in the new year:

IF-AT Immediate Feedback Tests

IF-AT cover Here's a quick video (2m 17s) that describes IF-AT testing, an assessment technique that actually helps students learn. Susan Salvo shared the idea with us back in August, during her webinar on the use of technology in the classroom. We think it could be a really great tool for learning the more complicated ethics subject-matter. Let us know what you think.

Contact Us | Privacy Policy

Copyright © 2001-2018 Sohnen-Moe Associates, Inc.

Last updated: May 21, 2018
Processing time: 0.113 seconds