Who was your favorite teacher? Why?
These are great questions to reflect on as I come to the conclusion of Professional Practice (PIDP 3260). In fact, the answers to these questions should help me to define my own teaching philosophy and goals. Sure, I liked the teachers who gave good marks and were nice. But actually, the teachers I liked the most were the ones who challenged and inspired me.
It’s funny that I can’t actually recall many of my instructors from nursing school. (What is worse is that it’s difficult to even remember some of the content). But there was one instructor who I will never forget. The one everyone was scared of. She had a reputation among the nursing students as being ‘mean’, ‘hard’, and absolutely never gave perfect marks. Horror stories were passed down from students who had taken her course before. There was a battle for students to complete their course selection quickest so they could avoid her. But…even though I was a little scared of her too, she was probably my favorite teacher.
Why did I like her so much? She was fair. She had high expectations of us. She challenged us to continually learn and improve. She respected students who worked hard, even if they didn’t always do well. And underneath her seemingly cold exterior, she had a sense of humor and cared about the students.
In a program where it seemed like everyone got 100% (even if they wrote the assignment the night before), I appreciated that marks accurately reflected effort and achievement. She marked fairly, using the assignment rubric and she was always available for students to receive extra help. When I got involved in a research project, she was my biggest support and guide – and she celebrated my completion of the project as excitedly as I did.
I feel badly that she was labeled as the ‘scary’ teacher. Perhaps the students felt this way because she encouraged us to go beyond our learning comfort zones, and it was actually the responsibilities and expectations that the students felt scared about. This instructor taught us as adults, and maybe some of us weren’t ready for that. Now that I’ve made my way through most of the PID program, I can see that the other instructors taught us as children. And while that felt comfortable and easy for us, we actually missed out on more advanced learning that we were capable of. So…thank you, (‘Scary’) Mary – you inspired me! Not only as a nurse, but also now as a new nursing instructor.