We live in a fast paced world where things are ever changing. As humans, we are forced to adapt to change, learn new techniques, and keep up on the newest trends. Where changes occur, we as dental professionals have to learn the changes yet maintain the original knowledge that we learned. Its like a pyramid as we are constantly building on our knowledge with the changes in practice as well as technology. As educators, it is part of our role to be innovative, be creative and help students think differently so that they can remember the information you are presenting to them. I can think back and remember certain courses that I’ve taken and try to remember things that I learned and my mind comes up empty. Thinking back to the the course “Community” in my first year of hygiene school. The instructor spoke very mono-toned, sat in her chair, and read the power point word for word. She expressed no emotions, did not add anything creative, nor did she tell any personal stories or come up with any strategies to help improve our learning. There is an overwhelming amount of information in the Community course and the instructor continued to teach the course the same way that its been taught for years. I know personally, I do not want to be remembered for being boring, showing lack of emotion or support and lacking in innovation. To be innovative, does not mean you must have the state of the art equipment or technology. Art, literature, storytelling, humor and technology- assisted learning can all be used in innovative ways (pg 40.) To me, being innovative in the classroom,is to be creative, and adding new ways of presenting material to enhance the course to help meet the students needs. An innovative classroom is not just an instructor reading material off of a power point screen. We must provide options for the students, give them a variety of activities and assignments, keep up to date on the newest trends and explore possibilities. Educators should share their ideas with each other, even when things don’t “work” or go as planned. Sharing teaching strategies present the opportunity to improve the educational process (pg 45.) Sharing strategies with others will benefit students and faculty alike (pg 47.) Educators may have their own idea of what “works” and what is helping students to learn the course objectives however, I believe it is important to take note of what the students perspectives are. Evaluating the outcome is the final step in the process of implementing an innovative strategy (pg 45.) We always do course evaluations at the end of the semester, in hopes to improve things for the next time we teach the course. However, I think a creative idea would be to add an evaluation in the middle of the semester. Ask students for their opinions, what helped them learn best, and what improvements can be made. Why wait until the end of the course when one could have made improvements earlier to better prepare and help the students. Another thing that could help the instructor evaluate the outcomes would be to have another faculty member or the chair of the department sit in on the course and have another set of eyes evaluate the innovations. I encourage all educators to take small steps and add new ideas and creativity to the classroom. There is no reason to try ten different innovative strategies all at once and overwhelm the instructor and the students. Once one new idea or presentation works, then add another. Enhance your classroom one innovation at a time!
All citations come from Bradshaw, Martha “Innovative Teaching Strategies in Nursing and Related Health Professions” Chapter 3 Strategies for Innovation.