Teaching CPR trainings is what we do. We know the material. We know the video. We know when to tell our clever jokes. We know our instructor routine to a tee and can teach with our eyes shut. But, maybe this is all part of the problem.
Early on in our careers, it was nerve-wracking to get comfortable with our own “flow” of teaching a class whether doing this full-time or as a side gig. Our instructor trainers attempted to teach us how to do this “CPR thing” when they seemed to do it so effortlessly. But we soon found out, it can take a bit for that to happen. With excitement and nerves abound, we tried all different ways to make our classes “right”. When one method didn’t work, we tried another and another and yet another until we felt comfortable. Finally finding our sweet spot in front of the crowd, we start to feel more relaxed in our role at the front of the classroom. Personally, it took a while for me to reach this place. It took many trainings and many mistakes to “get it right”, in my eyes at least.
As time passes, it can become easy to instruct on “auto drive”, without thought and seemingly without passion. We become accustomed to our way of doing things without any exposure to anything new to help mix things up. For me, this problem become very real. I was honestly bored of myself as an instructor. I felt no excitement for my craft and almost thought that I may need to get out of the field. Before making such a bold and irrational move, I tried a few things that helped bring me back to life again as an instructor (sorry for the pun!)
I needed to surround myself with other skilled instructors to observe them teach. Yes, I needed to become a student again who could be a sponge to new ideas and different tools to make my classes interesting and fun again for me. While the focus of trainings is always the students, this journey was about rediscovering my love for teaching, which would allow me to be a better instructor. It was challenging to my ego to admit that I needed help. It was a new experience to watch others perform the dance of being a personable instructor and serious skills evaluator all while allowing the students to have an amazing classroom experience.
Opportunities presented themselves to attend conferences that were geared to CPR instructors. While this may not be feasible to some folks to consider, it’s a great opportunity to learn a lot of amazing things if you have the ability to make it happen. While I found a lot of great sessions with experienced speakers, I benefited more from the workshops and round-table discussions where I could listen to what others do in their trainings, how they deal with students and keep their spirits filled with joy imparting this lifesaving knowledge to others. Even better are the one-on-one conversations with instructors from all over the country that shed incredible insight into their talents and tools to stay invigorated with their jobs.
When learning more about what other instructors were doing, I become open to being an instructor with more than one organization. I started my instructorship through AHA. When I decided to expand that to ASHI, ECSI and Red Cross, I found myself excited with more than one method to teach a class. While the fundamental material and standards are pretty similar across the board, each organization has a different format and approach to teaching. Some even allow you to instruct with a video and deliver the program via lecture-style. This option was amazing for me to explore and utilize since I had become disenchanted with being a facilitator who simply needed to operate the remote to play the course DVD. Once I had my arsenal of instructor programs available to utilize, it helped to reignite my passion to continue in the field, while allowing me to service my customers in a more personalized way.
While I have only begun to scratch the surface on how to get out of your rut, these are a few of the methods that have helped me. I encourage you to further explore other options that may benefit you. Whether you have been an instructor for a few years or twenty, it can be hard to reach out to others to ask for help to reinvigorate your love for the profession. But once you do and find your happiness again, both you and your students will be thankful.