Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A True Educator = My Husband

Every time I go to the doctor who is hosting a medical student, someone says, "Gavin Gardner is your husband?! I love that guy! He is hilarious." I was beginning to wonder if he just went around with a joke book in his pocket all day or something.  However, today I learned why he is famous among the medical students in our area. I had the pleasure of attending a lecture of which my husband, Gavin Gardner, was a facilitator. It was by far the most enjoyable, engaging, and enlightening two hours of my teaching career, and this is not coming from a place of bias.  The content was medically-based and important for patient safety; however, it was not the content that made this lecture come alive. The educator, Gavin, breathed life into every aspect of it.

Each story Gavin told, the videos he embedded, and the pieces of information he relayed were delivered in a way that gave students more than just content knowledge. He taught students not material, and that made all the difference. He is not just a teacher, he is a true educator.  A true educator is someone who teaches with a passion that is felt not just heard, connects with students, shows human emotion, and believes all students can and will succeed.

Passion: Students see it, feel it and hear it in your voice and your actions. 58% of your message is delivered in body language. Gavin was moving around, jumping, reaching out to students, and acting out his stories. It was fun to watch him not just listen to his jokes.

Connection: When we connect to students we find ways to bridge the gap between learning and teaching. We show them we respect them and care what they have to say. Multiple times Gavin showed students he cared by waiting for an answer. Wait time is a great way to connect, as students need to know you will hold them accountable and are wanting to hear what they have to say. Praising their thoughts, thanking them for taking the risk to share and highlighting or repeating the words of students throughout class are all ways to show students you really heard them. I witnessed these actions repeatedly today, and students were truly engaged in his lesson because of it.

BE HUMAN: You have to let students see you as an individual with thoughts, feelings, and someone who makes mistakes too. Gavin was able to do this by telling jokes about himself, pointing out errors he has made, and sharing about his life. (I have to admit I was the butt of some of his jokes or stories but loved it). Today,  a class of 200 medical students got to see one of the reasons I fell so madly in love with him 20 years ago. He makes me laugh!!!

Believing in Students: Giving your students opportunities to fail, highlighting learning moments, and taking the time to celebrate student success is important. Gavin made it very clear he was there for students. He showed students he was approachable, and that when they failed he would be there to support them.

As an educator, you can get wrapped up in lesson planning, accommodations, emails, and the daily grind. This can cause you to forget why you became an educator in the first place. However, I have a cure for "complacent disorder" or to "restart your engine" for education. Go to a class all the students rave or talk about in the hallways, and take the time to learn a new way to reach your audience. All too often we see the world as we are not as it is. Therefore, get out of your own head, and see the world from another fantastic educator's perspective. Capture the fire that instructor can provide just by showing you what it means to "teach."

I have always believed Gavin was a far better educator than he ever gave himself credit for, as he is extremely humble. Today's learning experience proved that to me in so many ways.  I was blessed to be able to experience education through his heart, and he has given fuel to the fire to educate in my own heart. Praise God for true educators like Gavin, who can make us see what we did not even know we were missing.