Columns, Training

Classroom Tips from Around the Country

Issue 11 and Volume 39.

Educators must learn from one another, and I’ve been blessed to learn the craft of teaching from many gifted and talented educators. Here are some of my favorite teaching tips from a few colleagues who continue to make a difference in the world of EMS education.

Medicine is Dynamic
“I ask every instructor to remind the students in the beginning of any educational course, that what they’re learning now may not be the practice later. Medicine is science, science is based on research, research is based on available data, and data is ever changing.”

Baxter Larmon, PhD, MICP, professor of emergency medicine at David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), director at UCLA Center for Prehospital Care

Know the Pathophysiology
“Whatever topic I’m teaching, I try to include pertinent pathophysiology that explains patient signs and symptoms, and then discuss a case that illustrates the point. Participants learn the most while exploring a case with well-thought-out questions. The longer I teach, the shorter the didactic material becomes and the longer the time spent on the case study becomes.”

Twink Dalton, RN, MS, NREMT-P, EMS educational coordinator at Mountain View Fire and Rescue (Colo.)

The Circle
“On the first day of class, have the students stand and form a circle, facing each other. Join the circle and begin by saying your first and last name, hometown and state. Then the student to your left says their first and last name, their hometown and state, and must then repeat my information. The next student gives their information and repeats the first student’s and your information. This moves around the circle until the last student now on your right, has to say everyone’s first and last name, hometown and state. Now you’ve broken the ice, and a safe and respectful environment is established so real learning can take place.”

Doug York, NRP, PS, program director at University of Iowa and chair of CoAEMSP

Rule No. 1
“Begin each semester by warmly welcoming the students and handing them a very detailed syllabus. Tell them, ‘Rule No. 1: You’re not allowed to ask me a question unless you first ask two of your fellow classmates and none of you have an answer.’ Pause and let this sink in. The key is to develop resourcefulness, have students put faith in each other and read the syllabus.”

Chris LeBaudour, educator at Santa Rosa College (Calif.)

The Devil is in the Details
“Detailed student handouts prepared by our faculty supplement the textbook and blend current science with our system-specific protocols. The packets provide probing homework questions that encourage students to dig deeper and synthesize the concepts, forming a strong base for academic success. It’s also critical to divide the class into squads with predefined and self-selected jobs that foster accountability. I also recommend frequent use of white boards to check understanding address all three domains of learning and appeal to their academic, emotional and social intelligence.”

Connie J. Mattera, MS, RN, EMT-P, EMS administrative director and system coordinator at Northwest Community EMS System (Ill.)

Be Prepared
“Come to class early to prepare for your lesson by arranging the room, checking your audio and visual components, and greeting the students as they come in. Getting prepared and making yourself available to your students is key to being a master teacher. Invest yourself in your students and show attention to detail; they’ll make the same investment.”

Walt Stoy, PhD, professor and director of emergency medicine at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, founder of the National Association of EMS Educators

These titans of EMS education would agree that good strategies are born out of simplicity, which is too often overlooked. We must share our successes and our failures with each other if we hope to see our profession grow and if we hope to grow as professionals.