Context and setting The training of medical teachers in India in pedagogical techniques is not mandatory. Hence the quality of teaching imparted in medical schools is heterogeneous. Feedback from students revealed that the quality of teaching was variable across our institution. Some teachers had never been trained in medical education and others had attended short courses. Faculty members resisted attending teacher training workshops, often scoffing at their significance and effectiveness and citing constraints on time imposed by clinical work as excuses. They also feared to encounter ridicule of their teaching skills in a hostile environment.
Why the idea was necessary There was a need to alter the view that the job of a medical education unit was one of policing. It was essential to create a climate of friendliness and equality in which teachers would approach the medical education unit to improve their pedagogical skills. The focus was on imparting key teaching skills in a short period within a congenial environment.
What was done A short half-day workshop was designed in view of the time constraints faced by teaching staff. Junior and middle-level faculty members from all departments were encouraged to participate. Two sessions with 12 participants each were conducted. Sessions began with an icebreaking activity. This was followed by an interactive session on how to give and receive feedback, which incorporated role plays and case scenarios. This helped to sensitise participants to the need to be more receptive to constructive suggestions. It also helped the more vocal participants to tone down their manner and offer ideas for improvement. A brief introduction to microteaching preceded the actual sessions. Participants taught in small groups and practised micro-skills. The positive critique technique was used, in which the presenters first self-evaluated their own performance. This was followed by rounds of comments from the observers during which positive points and suggestions for improving teaching skills were discussed in depth. A re-teach session followed in which presenters utilised recommendations for improving their teaching style.
Evaluation of results and impact All 24 participants found the exercise useful for honing their teaching skills. They valued the interactive friendly nature of the sessions and appreciated the non-condescending nature of the feedback offered. Creating a climate in which faculty members could openly voice their concerns was important as it stimulated them to seek solutions. The impact of giving feedback in a constructive manner using the positive critique technique was encouraging to first-timers. Participants who had attended previous teaching courses elsewhere found this kind of constructive feedback to be more acceptable and less offensive than criticism. There was a demand to extend this activity to senior faculty staff and to make it a routine departmental activity. Participants showed a keen interest in pursuing longer training courses in medical education after this brief encounter with the basics of teaching and learning. Given the encouraging response to our workshops in terms of sensitising medical faculty members to the need to undertake training in medical education, this exercise will be continued in the future on a monthly basis.