During your first year of teaching, you will lecture to the class about the content, Self. Yes, it will be painful for you and the students! Teaching is personal; therefore, you will need to let your passion and personality show in your lessons. You will be inspired by colleagues who have become great instructors. Go observe them teach.
Unfortunately, you and most of your colleagues will gravitate to teaching strategies that align with how you were taught and how you learn best. Self, those strategies may not be best for your students, or for your course objectives. Seek out creative teaching strategies through research, attending conferences and sharing among colleagues (even in other disciplines). Later in your career, you will develop training for new faculty in your own department and have access to another Internet innovation called webinars. Coming soon!
After the first year, you will feel more comfortable in the classroom and begin to use learning activities to help students apply the content. Self, you will draw on your creativity and your research to prepare a nice variety of teaching strategies. And your students will appreciate it! You will discover how much the students love hearing about your own clinical experiences and, in turn, they will want to share examples of their own. Since you already know that nursing is not simply a skill, these interactions will allow you to lead students in application and clinical decision making. Another way to pass it on.
Self, you will quickly learn that students watch faculty like children watch their parents. They will see how you act, how you treat people and what you say. There will be keen observations about how you relate to patients and staff in the clinical area and how you handle questions, especially when you don’t know the answer. Fortunately, a wise faculty member will teach you how to help students answer their own questions instead of allowing them to become dependent on you to answer them. Self, that will be a vital skill for you to learn and will relieve the pressure you put on yourself to know-it-all.
The sharing of wisdom among faculty will be essential to your successful journey as an educator and your colleagues as well. You will conduct your own key observations, such as how faculty give study tips and test-taking strategies during class and how colleagues model good interpersonal relations while sharing clinical examples. Listen carefully when faculty talk about their work, projects and experiences with other faculty and clinical staff. I encourage you to embrace this collaboration.
Self, not long after starting this year, you will have a champion who will invest in you and celebrate your success. Even the simple gestures, like a smile as you go to class, a thumbs-up as you answer a tough question, a listening ear when you are stressed, or a special email saying “Good work!” Remember how this makes you feel. These same strategies will work well with students. Occasionally a student will thank you for helping them understand a complicated process, but they need more encouragement than they can give.
A big ah-ha moment for you will be finding the right balance between mentoring students and your natural desires to care for and nurture them. Self, mentoring students requires a personable and professional relationship, but students don’t need you to be a friend. It will take hard work to set boundaries because you aren’t a trained counselor. Look to your colleagues for guidance, and someday you will help others with your lessons learned, like waiting to connect with students on social media until after they graduate to keep clear boundaries. What’s social media? Well, it’s too complicated to explain now, but it will be an Internet sensation in the future.