Monday, December 6, 2010

Devouring Donuts at 8AM

As I looked at the pink box, I thought to myself about whether donuts were such a good idea. After all, donuts are simply balls of fried dough coated in sugar syrup, not the most healthy choice for breakfast. The lack of nutritional value is probably the last thing one thinks about when devouring this tasty treat. Despite the initial hesitation, I realized that donuts can also be a wonderful gift, especially at 8 AM.

So, I walked to campus happily carrying the pink box and made my way to small group. Today, I was facilitating a group of twelve first-year medical students. We were going to discuss a case of coronary artery disease. So, maybe the donuts were actually a bad idea. Whatever the case, donuts were well-received.

Interestingly, I was leading the same group I had attended as a first year during the cardiovascular block. It's so odd and funny how quickly times flies. One day, you find yourself squirming in those uncomfortable seats, dreading the 8 AM small group. And then you wake up a couple of years later, sitting in the front, teaching and hoping your students like you and learn something (anything) during the two hours you spent with them.

It's really easy to stand in front of a class and lecture. What is harder, is having students discover critical learning issues and topics on their own and having students teach other. Our job as small group facilitators is to guide students to discovering and disseminating knowledge. We have the answers, but at the end of day, it's not the answers that are important, it's the learning that takes place in the process. Consequently, we hope students can start to see things from different perspectives.

Small group can be a battle to stay awake. I remember those days. The donuts were a peace offering. By feeding my students, I hoped to appease them and make them happier people, so they could engage in the material just a little more. Maybe peace offering is a little extreme. The correct word should be incentive.

Surprisingly, none of that was needed. My students came prepared to learn, asking questions and teaching each other, which made my job so much easier and rewarding, even sweeter than a traditional glazed donut.

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