Tips to Become a Better Instructor

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This is a guest post by Steve Lichtenberg. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

After I wrote a set of tips becoming a better CPR instructor reader Steve Lichtenberg asked to contribute a post of teaching tips to help instructors take the next level. Steve writes:

Pediatric ALS and BLS SkillsIf you have been teaching the standardized curriculum for CPR for a while it is time to branch out. Since the goal is to become a complete EMS instructor, volunteering to run drills and teaching more complex first aid skills to lay rescuers provides two opportunities to stretch your teaching skill. By teaching CPR, you have become comfortable with certain skills like:

  • Speaking in front of a group
  • Answering student questions
  • Taking steps to ensure student success

Moving forward provides you an opportunity to stretch your teaching ability and gives you a mechanism to start designing new coursework based on community or station needs.

As you begin to teach new skills and new programs, keep in mind the following Everyday EMS Tips:

  • Don’t over-teach. You wouldn’t teach a group of PhD’s the same way you would teach a group of fifth graders. Keep in mind the existing training of your audience. You don’t have to impress your students with your knowledge. Going into too much detail will confuse them and/or turn them off.
  • Different people have different learning styles. Some are auditory learners and do well with lectures. Others are visual learners and need to see content written down. Still others will not understand the objectives without having a hands-on learning and practice opportunity. What works for one may not work for others. Stay flexible in your approach.
  • “I don’t know” is a valid answer. Don’t make things up. Your students will know when you are and you will lose all credibility. You don’t make promises you can’t keep when talking to patients. Students can also see through your bluff.
  • Use positive language when correcting behavior. Your ultimate goal is for your students to succeed. Beating them down with negative language increases their nervousness and erodes confidence. Don’t expect them to perform a new skill to the same level you do. It takes practice to learn new things. Give your students the time to master the new experiences in a positive environment.

Once you have taken these tips into consideration, you are well on your way to becoming a much better instructor.

Steve has been a CPR instructor for six years. After becoming a wilderness first responder instructor trainer, he decided it was time to give back to the community and is now a volunteer EMT in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He is working to become an instructor at the academy and furthering his EMS career through additional training. Visit his blog or connect with him on Twitter, @slichten01