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Teachers "Unlearn" to Keep Students Learning

May 19, 2020

Baystate Springfield Education Partnership (BSEP) is an after-school health careers pathway program for high school students in Springfield. It offers career exploration courses in medicine, nursing, allied health and interdisciplinary health.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, students met each week with guest speakers to hear about the personal experiences that led them to their current career. They participated in a career-related activities—such as department/unit tours or hands-on practice of wound care or starting an IV.

Overcoming Social Distancing with Virtual Engagement

BSEP is meeting the challenge of keeping students interested when they can't attend sessions in person by offering a variety of virtual workshops.

Departments are giving students virtual tours in non-patient areas, such as the lab. A geriatrics-palliative care team is leading a joint student and parent workshop on advanced care planning. There is also a Q and A panel session with Physician Assistant students.

Office hours are now virtual as well. At first, there were a lot of questions about COVID-19. Now students are anxious about summer plans, summer jobs, etc.

"This weekly invitation is a way to let them know that we’re still here for them," said Kelly Lamas, MPH, BSEP Coordinator.

“Unlearning” is the Silver Lining of the Pandemic

"Zoom has been my best friend," said Lamas. "I’m still learning how to adapt my usual classroom strategies virtually."

Lamas recalls a presentation on "unlearning" by Peter Blain, MEd, BSEP Manager. The concept of unlearning is that people have to step outside their usual ways of thinking in order to learn a new new mental model.

"This is what is happening right now," she adds.