Teaching tips from the Teacher's Aide Newsletter.
From the 2018 March issue
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Given your answers, who would be most easily attracted to working with you? Who would you really enjoy being around?
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.
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.
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.
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.
For additional activities, create a wall for sample brochures, sample gift certificates, sample postcards, etc.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Post these study tips in your classroom, to help students prepare for success in the new year:
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.