Finding Your Rhythm as a New Nurse Educator
This blog post was written by Heather Mangino, EdD(c), MSN, BS, RN, Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University of Saint Joseph.
As a novice nurse educator, it can be challenging to develop a teaching rhythm. Even after 11 years of teaching, my steady routine helps me to feel more comfortable with the lesson’s content, the learning environment, and the students. However, I never teach a topic exactly the same way. When reflecting on a lesson, I consider how students engaged with the material, and how that could be enhanced. While I have developed increased flexibility over time to alter my pedagogy in the moment, I have an overall consistent teaching foundation that keeps me grounded.
Here are my top tips for developing a teaching rhythm:
Spend time creating the lesson’s objectives. What do you want the major takeaway to be for students? It is impossible to teach every detail, and this may lead to learners feeling overwhelmed. Consider how the objectives connect to other lessons or main ideas in the course. For example, perfusion could be a key point when talking about neurological conditions, but also when discussing different types of shock.
Develop reflective practice by explaining "why." I try to explain the reasoning behind my pedagogical strategies to students as much as possible. This helps enhance credibility, which is especially important as a new educator (Brookfield, 2017).
Get organized beforehand to develop a tentative “flow” in class. Write your plan down for class. I begin by checking in with students to see how they are doing and how their clinical experiences are going. Next, I remind them about important assignment and test dates. Finally, I let them know the plan for class that day so they know what to anticipate.
Practice your timing. Rehearse your lesson and estimate how long each lesson or activity will take. Include time for questions and discussion. Anticipate that active learning such as group work will take longer than expected. Be sure to plan for at least a 10 minute break for students.
Always have a back-up plan. There will be issues with technology. Develop a plan to keep class running. Consider having an additional activity on standby in case there is extra time or reinforcement of a key concept is needed.
Once you discover your rhythm, challenge yourself to switch it up. Make gradual improvements to lessons over time. Learn how to use new technology that will enhance your teaching and try it out with students. Creating a rhythm builds confidence to use different types of teaching and learning strategies, as well as provides the opportunity for pedagogical risk-taking in nursing education.
Brookfield, S.D. (2017). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. Jossey-Bass.
Heather teaches professional concepts of nursing, medical-surgical nursing, and capstone courses to traditional and accelerated undergraduate students. She is also a student in a Doctorate of Nursing Education program.
Connect with Heather
Heather can be reached via Twitter @Magenta173