Dyana Calderon, B.S., RRT, is an instructor in our Respiratory Care program at our Pleasant Hill, CA campus. It is our pleasure to announce that Dyana has been awarded the 2012 Carrington College California ‘Commitment to Teaching Excellence’ award for Respiratory Care.
Dyana is new to the Carrington family, but has made an immediate impact having only joined us in August this year. Although she has always wanted to teach, this is Dyana’s first full-time instructor position. We’re very proud to tell you that Dyana is also a Carrington graduate – three years ago she graduated from the very program she now teaches. Dyana was nominated for this award by the Executive Director of the Pleasant Hill campus, La Shawn Wells.
La Shawn, why did you put Dyana forward for this recognition?
“Dyana has made a big difference to the Respiratory Care program in such a short period of time. Her hard work has stabilized the Respiratory Care morning class. Her commitment to her students and her enthusiasm for the job is reflected by the fact that she encourages all her students to attend extra study sessions on Fridays.”
So Dyana, what does receiving this award mean to you?
“I’m really honored that I’m getting this recognition so early in my career! Honestly it was quite a shock, but it’s great to know that my work is appreciated. It’s good to know that my colleagues recognize that I’m working hard to make my students happy, to engage them in their learning, and to have some fun with them along the way.”
After three years in the field as a Registered Respiratory Therapist, what made you want to teach?
“When I first started my educational journey, I wanted to teach…but then I drifted away from it a little, and I ended up going in a different direction. In the back of my mind I’d always wished that I’d continued with the credentials for education. I worked at a hospital in Oakland, in fact I still do part time as needed, and we always had a lot of students come through for their externships. I always really enjoyed teaching them what I know. When I heard of the position at Carrington opening up, I thought it would be a fun way to give back… and to get back to the career I wanted originally.”
Was there an instructor who inspired you as a student?
“There was a teacher here at Carrington who was a great inspiration to me, his name was Ed Saliba. He taught our Ventilator class, which can be pretty boring, dry stuff; it can also be one of the harder classes to take – but Ed made it fun to learn. He interacted with us and brought on a whole different atmosphere of teaching, as opposed to what we were used to. I like that teaching style, and it’s a style that I’ve adopted in the classroom. Yes, it’s a serious subject, but you have to enjoy the career you choose in life, so I want it to be fun wherever possible. I loved his style, so I guess he was my inspiration.”
Was there a particular moment when you knew teaching was for you?
“There’s not been an ‘aha’ moment yet, but I do feel like this is my calling even though I’ve only been doing it a short period of time. It’s a lot of hard work as a new teacher, but I’m really enjoying it. I enjoy the looks on my students’ faces when they get a good test score, or when they get an answer right in class. I just love the interaction.”
What’s your motivation to teach, what drives you every day?
“I still have the enthusiasm of being a new instructor, that’s my driving force. But I came into this wanting to be the kind of instructor that I wanted my teachers to be when I was in school. Because I’ve only been out in the field for three years, I think I have a good idea of what the students are looking for. I try to implement a way of teaching that mimics how I would have liked to have been taught. I believe that in life in general you have to be your own self-motivator; you have to enjoy what you’re doing. If you enjoy something, you’re always going to work hard to find ways to do it better.”
What do you do to keep your students engaged in their own learning?
“I look for a lot of feedback; feedback is great for me as we’re all learning together. And if I don’t know something, I’m honest about it – and we solve it, or discover it together. Students don’t like to be lied to, so it’s better to always be honest and open with them. Things are always changing in our profession – new medications, new protocols, new techniques and new technologies. It’s impossible to know everything.
I guess I was the first instructor in a long time to encourage my students to come in on Fridays for study sessions and study groups. Classes are Monday through Thursdays but I highly encourage Fridays; it’s a more relaxed way of learning. They can ask more questions, play with the equipment, or we can preview what’s coming up next. It’s a more informal way to learn or review. I always try to make myself accessible for them.
I also have them write research papers; I use YouTube to demonstrate patient interactions…I try to make class as ‘hands-on’ as possible. I’m just trying to get them excited about their learning every way I can, getting them excited about being a therapist again!”
This award recognizes excellence in teaching; what values does an instructor need to excel?
“Professionalism is one, but you also have to build a rapport with your students. It’s coming up with that balance between being professional, but having fun as well. We’ve already talked about the importance of honesty. And just plain caring for your students is critical; you have to really care. We’re here to teach them to care for their patients like we care for them.”
What makes a good day at work?
“I really don’t know the answer to that question! I feel like I always have a good day at work because I really enjoy what I’m doing. But a great day would be if all my students got A’s on a quiz, or if they all did their reading the night before. I always like to be prepared, so I guess a day where I have some time to prepare for the next day is good!
I try to have an open door policy; I encourage my students to always ask questions or ask me if they have a problem. I’m starting to see some of the more shy students come and see me, and that always makes me feel good – I don’t want to be intimidating! When a student feels comfortable enough to come to me with questions or for a little extra help, that’s a good day.”
Congratulations on this award Dyana. Even though you are new to teaching and to Carrington College California, your passion for and commitment to your students is clear. That’s why we’re delighted to recognize your work with this “Commitment to Teaching Excellence” award. We’re confident that this is the start of a long and successful career in teaching. Thanks for all your hard work, and keep it up!
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