Sunday, March 20, 2011

Red Cross Pedagogy

Yesterday I had the privilege of spending 8 hours in the hands of the Red Cross, freshening up my adult and child CPR and first aid and meeting AEDs for the first time.

Here are the pedagogical approaches they used that I learned from in a way I might remember if an emergency actually hit:
  • hands on practice in moving a choking friend back and forth between back blows and abdominal thrusts
  • hands on using the plastic torsos to practice CPR for a decent chunk of time - half an hour maybe? (I could also feel some muscle memory from the last time I did this in approximately 1998)
  • hands on using the plastic torsos to simulate using the AED
  • hands on tying a bandage on my friend and having him tie a sling on me.
Here are the pedagogical approaches they used that I learned from for just long enough to pass their test end of they day multiple choice test:
  • lecture
  • reading
  • demonstration of one student rolling another student
  • videos
  • last minute pre-test cramming of needed information into our head ("teaching to the test" in the purest form I've ever seen)
It's always good to be forced to spend a day in a situation I'm not particularly intrinsically motivated for, just to see how most of my students feel most days.

I think what surprises me the most is how little the demonstration did for me -- it was a purely visual flow of information that wasn't really much more engaging than a video. I tend to try to substitute demos for hands-on experiences in my lesson planning because it's so much more efficient in limited time, and I guess this says I need to try to squeeze my efficiencies out some other way -- like cutting down the lecture even more.

Something that was surprisingly effective for me was the continual stream of verbal directions and reinforcement of critical information as I was doing the hands-on work. Maybe that should be my main method of information transfer rather than lecture.

I wish we'd done more writing in this class -- I'm wondering whether that would have fallen into the "doing something" category for me (resulting in some effective learning because I'd actually mentally had to process something and use it) or the "seeing / hearing something" category. Maybe it depends a lot on the kind of writing.

Overall, I think I need to learn to be more zen about teaching. I know that "doing" is almost always better than "seeing" and "hearing", but I also know that giving my students time to "do" always (a) takes more time than I expect and (b) is the fastest way I know to spread out my fast learners from my slow learners (maybe because they're actually learning!). I need to learn to accept a slower overall pace and the need for basic / crticial and extension levels of any meaningful assignment. And more "doing".

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