Many CTE health science teachers struggle to capture their students’ interest and get them to embrace the topics covered in health science high school courses. Though this is a common concern among health science teachers, it is especially troubling for those who teach Principles of Health Science. Because the topics learned in this course will form the foundation for your students’ entire health science education, Principles of Health Science is the most important course in your program.
While the topics in this course are compelling, most health science teachers, particularly new ones, struggle to find lesson plans and curricula that are exciting and easy to implement. Many health science lesson plans require a significant amount of prep time and work to execute. Other lessons are simply uninteresting, dry, or difficult for high school students to follow. Nevertheless, you must find some way to keep your students engaged if they are to have long-term success in your health science program.
The following tips and best practices will help you overcome these challenges and get your students to embrace everything in your Principles of Health Science course. Doing so will help ensure they are prepared for their future classes and careers in the healthcare field.
Before you can engage students with your lessons, you need to compile your resources. Even if you have been teaching Principles of Health Science for several years, designing lesson plans and health science curriculum is a time-consuming task. Divising a single one-hour lesson may require 10 hours or more of your time. Extrapolated over 90 to 180 course hours, this becomes extremely labor-intensive.
You can cut down on the amount of time you spend planning by capitalizing on the experiences of other health science teachers. Looking at examples of existing health science lesson plans can give you some great ideas and resources for your Principles of Health Science course.
Confer with your fellow health science teachers, or search online to find usable health science lesson plans. With a modest amount of digging, you can find plenty of great content that will help you engage students while being more time-efficient.
Once you have found some great resources, and have started to put your health science lesson plans together, it’s important to think of how you can make the lessons more interesting for your students. We’ve heard comments like this from many health science teachers:
“I feel like I have a lot of information to share, but I need lots of help in organizing and presenting it in a way that will keep my students engaged… I need help organizing and distinguishing my courses, especially Principles of Health Science, Health Science, and Health Science Practicum.”
Here are 2 ways you can make sure your Principles of Health Science courses are engaging:
To catch and hold your students’ attention, you have to make the material come to life. Many health science teachers accomplish this by using a blended learning approach. Combining multiple health science resources in a blended approach will not only keep your students engaged, but will help them learn better.
Consider breaking up a lecture-oriented course with interesting multimedia aids, such as a PowerPoint presentation. You could also embrace new resources by swapping one of your printed health science textbooks for an eBook or online health science curriculum resource.
By varying your approach, you are able to reach all of the students in your health science classroom. By breaking up the style of learning, you can have more time to spend one-on-one with those who need it. Your students probably come from diverse backgrounds and have different skills, aptitudes, and motivations.
Not sure how to use blended learning curriculum in your courses? This article will help: Tips to Use Technology in Your Health Science High School Courses
Like many other health science educators, you may have taken a non-traditional path to the classroom. Before becoming an educator, you probably spent time working in the healthcare industry as a nurse or technician. While this presents challenges for those who are beginning this transition, you can actually turn it into an advantage.
Your field-specific experience has given you a wealth of health
science knowledge unavailable to career teachers.
For example, instead of simply presenting information to your students, you can give them contextual examples you have faced in the industry. You can even have your students put the lessons they have learned into practice.
Because you have achieved success in the healthcare field, you are uniquely capable of helping your students to have successful healthcare careers. The career goals of your students will differ greatly, so you should tailor your efforts to each student.
A great way to start this is by having students write down their career goals at the beginning of your Principles of Health Science course. This will give you a way to get to know your students, and also understand what they will need to accomplish within the health science cluster after finishing your course.
Here are some other tips and ideas from health science teachers who are having success in their Health Science Cluster programs.
Stephanie Avery from Father Patrick Mercredi High School makes sure her students get what they need:
“I need to teach. Some of the more complex content requires more than just one touch with online learning.”
When students are using online health science curriculum, Avery makes herself available to them. She walks around the classroom to answer any questions that come up. That’s what blended learning in a Principles of Health Science course should look like!
Sean Plake of Stratford High School (Spring Branch ISD, TX) loves to focus on preparing his students for their future careers:
“My greatest success in the classroom over the years has been watching the students become successful after high school and achieving their dreams that were just notes on a piece of paper during their sophomore and junior years.”
One way to make sure you are helping your students achieve their dreams is to spend a few minutes and have everyone write down their healthcare career goals.
Karen Chirillo, a Health Assistant instructor at Greater Johnstown CTC focuses on getting her students prepared for the workplace.
“I want graduates to be ready to be employed immediately. Even if they are continuing with their education, a part time job is nice. Why not have a good part time job paying more than minimum wage while you continue your education?”
Joni Brand from the WaNIC received pushback from her students when they did not want to do presentations and group work. Her response was:
“When you are a nurse, you are part of a team, working with doctors and other professionals, which can be intimidating… You need to learn how to have your voice heard. And part of that is going to be knowing the material well and knowing what questions to ask and what you need to tell someone.”
The end result was grateful students, who wished they had done more presentations during the course!
Try to incorporate some of these suggestions into your teaching, but remember that you cannot become a great health science teacher overnight. It takes patience and practice to get there.
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