“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” — William Arthur Ward
I came across this quote in contemplating my words for this month’s excerpt. It struck a chord on a number of levels but it especially resonates right now in this incredibly challenging moment we are facing as an education team in the current surge of COVID-19. We have heard from learners across programs and stages of training that they are struggling. Not everyone, but too many. We have heard the same from our staff and faculty. Of course, this is likely multifactorial—COVID fatigue; lack of social engagement; fear of illness in self or family; fear of impact of COVID and the changing environment on career or learning; unpredictability of everything; loss of things that are usual, normal, routine; chronic system issues exacerbated by the current situation; and now the looming next wave all in the setting of the holidays. It’s too much and it’s hard to know how we as educators can help. This quote gave me an idea of what our most important role may be—that of a role model.
I know what you’re thinking—you’re nuts lady. I’m barely holding it together myself. I know. And I also know that we are asking you to do so much, including perhaps working in places you haven’t in a long time and doing things you don’t normally do whether that’s teaching on zoom or making a video or designing online simulation or being redeployed to a new clinical area or juggling all this with kids in online and ever changing schedules. This ask is hopefully a small one compared to those, but can also be hard. I am asking for all of us to role model empathy for everyone around us—recognizing that their suffering is real and hard. I am asking that we role model the finest virtues of these health professions—compassion, a dedication to doing what is right for our patients, learners, staff and colleagues, and a willingness to pass on those values to the next generation. We will not be perfect at this—no one is, and especially no one is during a crisis. But trying and acknowledging when we fail, that we too are human, but we are trying, is perhaps the most inspiring thing we can do as teachers and as people at this time. I am sorry to ask for one more thing and yet, I know that this community can inspire. And importantly, I believe that inspiration through role modeling empathy and compassion is exactly what we need to get through this next wave of challenge.
Thank you to all of you for your work, your flexibility, your dedication. You inspire me and you give me hope. I am thankful for you each and every day. I look forward to the days that we can refocus on the mundane and day to day tasks of the work we love. I believe that day will come soon—hopefully no later than the fall. I leave you with some of my favorite quotes from my favorite HIT workout coach Adrian Williams:
- “When it gets hard, dig deep.”
- “You are kind. You are powerful. You are strong.”
Together we can do almost anything. Be well and stay safe.