Sunday, November 13, 2011

You Never Know

Had an interesting day. It was the last class of a series of classes that I have been teaching.

This particular group of students has been a challenge to me. Each group always has its own "personality," and every group is different, but this group was further outside the norm than most. As if there is a norm.  I had a more difficult time than usual holding their attention, largely, I think, because the average age was younger than most groups I've taught.

About halfway through the series of classes I had to regroup, and rethink, and refine what I was teaching and how I was teaching it. A great opportunity, really.

So today, at the last class, it was time to evaluate performance.
Afterwards, I was left shaking my head.

This group did BETTER than most groups have.
If I were to assign grades (which I don't), the combined "grade point average" of this group was possibly the highest of any class I've taught.

How on earth did that happen?!?

It's partly because of all that rethinking, etc, that I had to do, in order to focus on the needs of this specific group.

But at least some of it had to do with something else.

It is not possible to see into someone else's mind, or into their heart.
This group looked like they were struggling to understand, and especially to be able to do the skills. They looked distracted and unfocused.

And yet, somehow, inside there, they were learning.

Which means that what I was interpreting as lack of interest, or lack of readiness, might have been something else.

This shouldn't have been a surprise to me, at all.
I did the same thing, notably, in calculus class in high school.
I'm sure the teacher thought I had no interest in the subject.
Throughout the class, my grades on quizzes were not very good.
I rarely, if ever, handed in homework.

And yet, I aced the final.
Somewhere in all that, my learning caught up to me.

And I think that is what happened to the group today.
They had a hard time.
It didn't come easy.
But in the end, they put it together.

So how does this apply to EMS?
Besides the obvious application to teaching EMS, I mean.

Have you ever had a patient who doesn't seem to understand what is going on? One whose responses are a little delayed, or who needs more explanation than usual? Or a patient with a developmental delay? A patient with mental health issues? Or even a patient with a language barrier?

Don't be so sure of what they do or don't understand.
It could be a lot more than you think.
Don't assume you can tell what their motivations are.

Listen, really listen to what they have to say.
Look at what they want to show you.
Look them in the eye, and give them every benefit of the doubt.

There could be a million different reasons why they respond the way they do.
There could be any number of reasons why they behave the way they do.

Pay attention.
Be patient.
Remember that helping your patient includes helping them understand.

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