The ingredients of a great teacher
Now we know the secret: Muffins.
We've heard so much about how Richard MacDonald, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, is a great teacher.
In fact, he just won the University of Nebraska's Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award.
But, how is he a great teacher? In what way? What's the secret? Muffins?
|Richard MacDonald, Ph.D.|
More than meets the eye
No, Dr. MacDonald said, it's not the muffins he brought for a recent class.
(Really?) "They're still warm," a student oohed.
No, Dr. MacDonald said teaching is all about getting students involved, keeping each one of them engaged.
But, couldn't anyone do that? Well ... does everyone engage you?
A shared journey
Dr. MacDonald is earnest, yet gentle. He asks questions like he doesn't know the answer. (And maybe he doesn't -- "I'm not a physician," he said, as he worked out a medical scenario with a class full of M1's.) He asks questions like you'll come to the conclusion together.
Sometimes they're tough questions.
"How do we give (a comatose patient's family) encouragement without over-encouraging them?" he said. "How do we give them the necessary hope without overdoing it?"
Into the deeper water
The students (they're first-year medical students!) don't know, of course.
They've gotten good grades in science classes.
But this? They all stare up at the projector screen, at a picture of a brain scan.
A look into the darkness
"How good does it look?" Dr. MacDonald asked. "Not good," someone said.
"How bad is it?"
"Weaning into medicine"
They followed the questions where they led, and it became apparent that this particular hypothetical would not end with a good outcome.
As doctors, they would have had to give this patient's family some very bad news.
"We hadn't lost a patient yet!" a student said as the realization set in.
"They're weaning us into medicine," another said.
The secret ingredients
At the hour break, Dr. MacDonald offered a second round of muffins, and it seemed a good time to step away.
So, what was it, the secret? What makes him such a good teacher? Muffins?
No. It's that he walks with his students, on their quest for answers -- which sounds simple, but isn't.
And he does it better than anyone else.
I enjoyed this story.
What a great story on an awesome teacher! This is what makes UNMC such a special place.