1 August 2022

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“It’s made me feel really inspired about my teaching”

How Teach with CARE empowers and motivates people who teach and train to engage their learners in the most effective way possible

We recently launched Teach with CARE – a new course designed to help anyone serious about developing their teaching skills, putting the learner first and enhancing palliative and end of life care education.

The four-day, part in-person, part online course, is already proving popular and the feedback from attendees has been very positive.

Gail Preston, Physiotherapist here at St Christopher’s, was among the first group to complete Teach with CARE. Gail says that not only did the course exceed her expectations, but it’s already transformed her approach to teaching and her colleagues and the patients she teaches have all noticed the positive difference.

Gail adds: “I signed up for the course because I felt like I could be better and wanted to learn from people for whom this is what they do all the time. I saw it as a chance to make our teaching gold standard.

“I was surprised how interactive it was and how much they crammed into it. As well as teaching you the techniques, you also got to experience them, seeing it from the learners’ perspective too.”

The teaching Gail provides is in the form of wellbeing days for patients. These cover a huge amount of information in a day and serve as an introduction to all the services St Christopher’s offers – taking in everything from nutrition and welfare rights, spiritualty and sleeping.

“I teach patients and although the course might not have been specifically designed for that, it has completely transformed the way I teach. They are adult learners, so the principles are the same. I’ve now incorporated a variety of techniques into my teaching that I wouldn’t have been brave enough to try, prior to the course.

“For example, I would never have thought of using technology before, because I was afraid that my group of learners would find it too daunting. But we had the staff there to support them and they really enjoy it. That’s given me the confidence to take risks in my teaching, to try new things and not just stand at the front and teach in the traditional way.”

It might seem counterintuitive, but Gail says that by giving up a measure of control, she feels more empowered in her teaching.

“It’s very easy when you’re teaching to want to be in total control and dictate what happens, but by letting go a bit and being guided by the audience and their needs you can adapt and provide them with a two way process.”

Gail enjoyed the mix of content in the course which included lots of group work. The two online days of the course were also aimed at helping learners to review and re-think the online teaching they do as well as introduce them to new tools that can help to enliven sessions.

The positive impact on Gail has been felt by her colleagues too. “It’s made me feel really inspired about my teaching and that extends to the ongoing training I do with my team. They were also really buzzing when we changed the way we deliver the sessions to the patients.”

So what difference has it made in practical terms to the teaching Gail delivers?

Gail explains: “Previously I based the sessions around a Powerpoint presentation. Now we make it much more interactive. We get people to sit around tables in groups, give them an icebreaker, get them to perform some practical tasks and by starting a conversation with their peers they start to learn from each other as well as from us. They are also feel able to ask questions they previously would have been too afraid to.”

So, would Gail recommend the course to others who teach in a palliative and end of life care context?

“It’s a real opportunity to reflect on how you teach, learn and interact with others as well as to discover your strengths and areas for development. I wouldn’t have had the tenacity and confidence to try this new approach. Now I feel really empowered in my teaching and hope everyone who attends feels just as inspired.” 

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