What is a Teaching Dossier?A reflective statement that touches on your thoughts about teaching referring to your teaching strategies and goals.
The fundamental characteristic that I try to instill in my students is curiosity and the desire to want to learn new concepts and ideas for themselves. To the latter extent, I try to convey to my students that learning can be an enjoyable experience. In the past I have found that students who enjoy what they are doing tend to be more productive and willing to put in the extra time and effort compared to those that do not understand and enjoy what they are doing.
“True teachers use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to build bridges of their own. ” Niko Kazantakis.
This is a particular favorite because it succinctly expresses a philosophy of teaching and learning in which I strongly believe. What appeals to me is not just the metaphor but the choice of words used to convey it.
I believe that effective teaching requires a student-centred approach that focuses on opportunities for students to build on their prior knowledge and experiences. At a minimum, content must be appropriately prioritized to ensure the information is relevant to the students and is paced and at the right level to nurture their interest in and mastery of the topic. A student centred approach also ensures student active involvement with the material, with the instructor and with other students. Through discussion and individual or group learning activities, students elaborate on what they know, push the boundaries of their knowledge and learn different ways to approach, critically think about and solve problems.
I endeavour to "engineer" an educational experience for students that is congruent with my beliefs about teaching and learning. For example, to promote student active involvement in a “lecture” format, I use a variety of learning activities (e.g. buzz groups, questions on clinical cases). In all teaching and learning settings, I encourage students to take ownership and responsibility for their own learning. I role model approaches and behaviours, share clear expectations, then fade back so the students can practice and learn for themselves. Most importantly, I believe that my role is to support students as they learn.
As an Instructor, my teaching philosophy is to support and assist the evolution of our students into “active learners”. I promote collaboration, cooperation and equal participation among the learners in my daily teaching activities. With the vast amount of information that our students are faced with, they need to be equipped with life skills that will help them evaluate, critically appraise and apply this information appropriately (i.e. use evidence-based practice) in their professional health careers. I strive to improve my teaching and tutoring skills based on feedback and suggestions that I receive from colleagues and students, and also by participating in teaching workshops and seminars to learn from my colleagues' experiences.
As a pathologist, every day I take care of hundreds of patients whom I never see. I am responsible for interpreting their blood tests correctly and quickly, diagnosing their bone marrow biopsies, and ensuring that their transfusions are safe. These patients are, naturally, being cared for by pediatricians and obstetricians and surgeons. But I am responsible for ensuring that my patients have the best laboratory care even though I will never meet them face to face.
As an assistant professor in the UBC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, my academic responsibilities are similar to my responsibilities as a pathologist. Our medical school creates hundreds of new physicians every year, and as a teacher I help each of them care for patients whom I will never meet. Every time these physicians see a patient with abnormal bleeding, every time they encounter a complete blood count or a coagulation result, they will approach these problems with the tools I have given them. Their patients are, in a way, my patients too.
To care for their patients, medical students need to learn thousands of complex facts during their four years at UBC. They will not get very many of these facts from me. What they will get, whether they are in a lecture hall of 250 students or sitting next to me one-on-one at the microscope, is a way to think about mechanisms of disease. I teach my students how to approach patients with hematologic illness by imagining what is going on at the molecular and cellular and tissue level. In short, I teach my students not what to think but how to think. I help my students build a mental foundation, on which they can place each of the details they so painstakingly memorize. My hope is that, at three in the morning on some future night when on call, that foundation will be there to support them.
To connect with my students, I work very hard to understand what they already know—how much, or how little. It is all very well to have learning objectives and exit competencies, to know where the students have to finish their educational journey, but even the clearest map is useless if where you are right now is a mystery. Knowing where to start, which amounts to having "educational empathy", is sometimes challenging: clearly, any medical school class with artists and writers sitting next to nurses and Ph.D. scientists is bound to have wide variations in background knowledge. I make a real effort to find where the students are, to know what they know, so that I can guide them to their destinations.
I am very fortunate to teach across the entire spectrum of medical education: from basic science, through medical school, to postgraduate training, to subspecialty fellowship education, to peer teaching. If twenty years from now my students remember anything at all from this teaching, my hope is that they will say, “he helped me understand.”
Most who teach in clinical settings see themselves primarily as clinicians or physicians responsible for patient care and only secondarily as educators. The education literature suggests that teaching predominantly operates at a tacit level, where teachers rely on core beliefs to guide their practice, and actually spend little time in reflective practice. Given the lack of research on how medical educators in clinical settings view their teaching, the purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the teaching beliefs of faculty in a pediatrics department in a college of medicine