Monday, May 12, 2008

Task Master or Pushover Dilemma

In trying to create a "safe" environment, teachers can over compensate and become so accepting that "anything" seems "ok". In these settings the learners can lose motivation to perform. It is really hard to find just the right balance between being a "task master" and being overly supportive.

Young teachers have often come to me with this dilemma. They in particular feel "singled out" by students and residents as being "too harsh" if they attempt to hold high standards.

Have you shared this experience?, or have some ideas to contribute? Join the discussion. We want to hear from you!


Rich Schlenk said...

Asking a resident or student how they think they performed is an excellent way of beginning a dialog that promotes healthy feedback. Starting off in this manner sets the tone that you as their mentor expect them to think and reflect upon their practice. It also lets them know that you respect them, are a good listener, are open minded, and value their opinion. I often begin with asking how they believe the case went and how differently they would have done it again if they had a chance. Often they are aware and are willing to point out their own mistakes. Redirection or corrective commentary, even when strong, often then is well received. Give them a chance to demonstrate insight into themselves.

Neil Mehta said...

Modelling the behaviour that you expect from house staff helps to get out the issue of setting "Harsh standards".
Also explaining the reason behind a particular standard using real-life examples also helps.
In the end, doing the right thing for the patient is important and that is the standard one must set.

Mark Mayer said...

Ask for self-assessment first. If the learner reflects well, and accurately assesses, all you need to do is agree and find something to reinforce. If the self-assessment misses the mark, you need to modify the behavior. Finding the right balance of reinforcement and advice to modify can be tricky.

Anonymous said...

Being a "young teacher" is not an easy task. I find it helps to think about the learner, where they're at, and what their interests and goals are. Keeping the teaching learner-centered may help lessen the dilemma and build the "young teacher's" confidence in teaching.

Anonymous said...

The culture of education has changed. I completely agree that this day and age, the learners seem to have more of a say so in what and how they want to learn. It has very much become a cultural shift. If the teacher feels differently or wishes to be stringent and hold the learners accountable, then sometimes, it could back fire against the teacher. complaints from the learners to administration can lead to problems. This can be especially true for young teachers who are just getting to know themselves as educators and are trying to set the correct tone. I truly believe at this stage of education, the ultimate determinant of success or failure is the individuals determination and self-drive. With good teachers such students can and will thrive. But if the student or the teacher don't have the motivation or the strong desire to excel and perform then the education process is certainly doomed to failure.

Bud Isaacson said...

Many thoughtful comments already posted. In addition setting clear expectations at the beginning of a clinical experience and offering praise when these expectations are met will help the learner accept suggestions for improvement.