Research and laboratory work is an art that can often goes wrong but may not be the case if we know what we’re doing and have a little luck on our sides.
Passing down the right skills is important in order to ensure that the next generation of bioscientists will continue to forge forward on the quest of advancing mankind through science.
Here are some tips gathered from trusted sources on how to train young aspiring bioscientists to learn to love and respect the lab and its culture.
- Know what you teach
Ensure whatever protocol you’re taking the students through is simple enough for them to understand and best to run through the protocol more than once with them. You must be able to explain the rationale behind each step; this would result in the students’ deeper understanding of the protocol. Your students should see you as a mentor and someone they can approach whenever they run into trouble with their experiments or to go over that one part of the protocol they didn’t understand.
- Don’t be too content driven
Being overly content driven when teaching classes never translates well with students. In either your excitement or your lack of enthusiasm, you might go into details laden with technical jargon and your students will be unable to follow your explanation or confuse themselves. Always keep the learning objective of the day in mind when you teach and never stray too far. Of course, some students would be more than happy to listen to your in-depth explanations, however, the trick is knowing which ones do and saving the rest from a mind–melting experience.
- Be student-centric
Sometimes all we need to go forward is a little motivation and that can come from a teacher. Motivating students doesn’t have to be as tiring as it sounds. Sometimes a simple “You can do it” or “Try harder, I know you can” is enough to spur on students to make the extra effort to get ahead in class. Who knows, maybe he/she might be inspired to pursue a career in the field.
Another effective way is to just let them know you’re there for them; offer to give them extra help in areas they don’t understand. Lab/research work can be fun but it can also be stressful when you don’t know what to do and how to proceed at some point. Which is why you should be vigilant during lab sessions and be quick to respond to any visible signs of distress or confusion from your students.
- Be patient
Students are exposed to lab work as teenagers, and teenagers are indeed tough to handle. You might have to go the extra mile to ensure you have everybody’s attention during class, which is a rare occurrence. Possible distractions include: handphones, laptops, food, friends, what they want to eat for lunch later, etc. Always let them know when the next ‘break’ is so they’ll be more attentive and save their various distractions for break time. Patience is the key to successful mentoring.
Enjoy your teaching experience by embracing the various personalities in your class, the class dynamics and don’t forget to engage the students. After all, the fate of a small group of the next generation is in your hands!