Connecting With Students Through Creative Teaching

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A critical component of teaching success lies with the ability to connect on an individual level with students. As a faculty member who holds a position of power, because of the nature of the student-faculty hierarchy, it is important to “open up” to students to allow them to appreciate your humanity. Similarly, the faculty member should strive to get to know each student on an individual level. Music is a powerful means of connecting with students that is often overlooked. I often start a lecture with a song (on YouTube) that relates to the content we are about to discuss. Regardless of whether students like the song, this practice generates discussion on a level outside of nursing and facilitates connection between the teacher and students. Another way I have connected with students is by trying to surprise them. On occasion, I have taped Valentines (with mock test questions on them) under chairs and asked students to reach under their chairs to see if they have been chosen. I ask students to attempt to answer the question, and if they do so correctly, they receive a prize from the prize box. Intermittently performing this practice, students begin to search under their chairs or look around the room to see what might be coming their way next. Lastly, if playing a game, be sure to give the teams a few minutes to generate their own team names. Usually, students are imaginative and incorporate humor into their team names. The use of these strategies generates personal conversation, and students are more likely to enjoy learning.
By Cynthia Foronda, PhD, RN, CNE, CHSE, ANEF, Associate Professor of Clinical, School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida (
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