Structure of the Toolbox
The Toolbox includes two kinds of Modules: Core Skills Modules and Special Topics Modules. The Core Skills Modules address teaching skills that are critical to the process of teaching. These skills will be applicable in many different teaching settings, with many different content areas. The basic core skills will sound familiar to those well-versed in the teaching literature. We work to review fundamental principles of each core skill, while applying them to the specific demands that work with ethics and communication skills teaching will place on the teacher.
Because the work of teaching is nuanced, tools for teaching cannot be simple checklists of procedures to follow and words to say. Tools for teaching must enact a particular approach. Any teaching manual will be limited by the fact that we must make these complex and subtle practices somehow operational so that others may take them up. Our materials are informed by theoretical perspectives, practical experience, and a continuous feedback loop between faculty, students, and outside observers. In the Core Skills Modules, we offer a rationale for teaching practices along with suggested phrasings that are derived from teaching practices. This combination should allow experienced teachers to deepen their practice as they reflect on their own work and consider ways these suggested strategies might be incorporated into an already robust practice. These teaching tools will also help a novice teacher get started and build a creative teaching approach.
A WORD ABOUT METHODS
The teaching examples that are included throughout this manual were extracted from two years of observations of small group teaching situations primarily with oncology fellows. Small group sessions were video or audio taped and then transcribed. Three separate coders with education backgrounds reviewed the tapes and the transcripts, identifying elements of effective teaching strategies. Coders also identified challenges for facilitators. Portions of transcripts were reviewed with the original facilitator for further reflection and insight on the issue illustrated in the teaching exchange. Excerpts from these teaching encounters appear throughout these materials.
All four of the faculty observed have different strengths and teaching styles. What joins them together is their common interest in fostering growth and insight in the learner. The teaching excerpts included here are intended to be illustrative rather than prescriptive. Once the spirit of the practices described is clear, you will be able to adopt your own language or strategies for communicating it with your learners.