I am a vocational nurse (aka: LPN) with an associate degree and DSD certification. I've been a nurse for 24 years and have gotten to do a lot of great nursing duties. At this time in my career, and being tired of shift work, I ventured into the teaching side - nursing assistants specifically. I love teaching but admit it is a bit tough. I've had students with bad attitudes, language barriers, lots of excuses (my computer blew up so I couldn't do work), etc... Recently, a group of 12 NA students went off at post conference with many complaints. That the facility staff CNAs disappear, don't let them do things, and that the other instructor doesn't listen to them. I spend a lot of time walking around at clinical helping students to be involved in tasks and making nice with staff. I do see the staff aides pushing away the students and have worked to open doors. This is a weekend class so the DSD wasn't there. Am at a lost as how to redirect things in a more positive fashion. I've explained that every instructor is different, to continue to respectfully explain their feelings. I need more info on the following:
1. How to handle student complaints.
2. How to handle language barriers.
3. How to embrace instructor differences.
4. How to continue to learn despite how we might deal with staff.
No resources I've found have been directed at these concerns. I did talk with the director of the program to let her know what had happened and how I handled things. I don't want to give up on teaching which I've done now for 6 months. It's wonderful to watch how students have worked and then graduate and become a colleague.
Whew, you have your hands full. I have just a few suggestions:
Regarding complaints, I would limit them during post conference, because a group can quickly turn into a mob. I would encourage to meet one on one with you, make sure you understand what they really want. Some things are just out of your control, but sometimes people just want to be heard.
Language barriers is a huge subject too. Is there a specific area? Is it reading or comprehension? Does your school have any services for English Language Learners? Are there texts or materials available in their native languages? Many non US born people are confused by American idioms, so try to limit those, or maybe your students can compile a list of confusing terms.
As for the other instructor, I like the idea of embracing differences. Can you point out the other person's strengths, interesting background perhaps? And I would let students know that just as you don't compare them to one another, its not fair for them to compare the instructors to each other. If they truly have a complaint, then they need to go to that instructor's supervisor.
Thank you for your input, this was truly helpful. I hadn't thought to try and limit the post-conference compliants, I had always viewed it as a part of open discussion but you're right, it can turn into a mob which is what I was concerned about. I know enough about the other instructor to highlight more of her skills. Will try to do that next time. As for the language barrier, the school I work for does not have any materials to help. We get RNs from the Phillipines now trying to enter the healthcare field with all the U.S. hoop jumping. We do explain they are allowed to use an Phillipines/English dictionary for work and tests but one student I suggested that to became insulted. She ended up dropping out which I felt really bad about as I know she knew beyond what the NA program had to offer. Hoping she will try again. I also always try to give students resources and my experience in dealing with others. I've had some pretty crappy bosses, an instructor from hell when I was in nursing school, and survived all of it feeling like I came out ahead. I am not going to give up. Again, thank you so much for your suggestions. God Bless. Sandy, LVN
In regards to the language barriers, remember that these students need extra processing time when speaking, reading or writing. They have to encode it and then decode it, figure out how they want to respond with then translate from their home language back to English to respond to you. Being patient with the extra time it takes will make a huge difference. Also, as mentioned, try to limit the use of idioms and slang. Pictures are a great non-verbal way to help get points across if needed as well. Speak slower, not louder!
Some cultures will take offence if you suggest they use their dictionaries. It is a point of pride that they are in the class taking it in English. They do no want want to be singled out as already being different.
I was an English Language Learner teacher for many years before becoming a nurse. Teaching is very rewarding and the people you meet will touch your heart. I wish you the best as you go forward with your teaching career!
Thank you for the input and your experience. I will continue to work to find resources for the ESL student.
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