Relying on Teacher Aids
As a volunteer teacher, you should take with you educational material that will fully support your objectives. The trip’s organizer or the program director can help you determine what teaching aids would be feasible, and what aids should be kept as simple as possible. Handouts are valuable, but in some areas dental professionals will not have facilities for copying written materials. You should also find out beforehand, if possible, about the equipment that will be available to, for example, play CDs or DVDs. In some cases, a host facility may be without electricity.
Volunteers should bring multiple forms of teaching aids, if possible. Volunteers who plan to use PowerPoint or a computer program should remember that the latest version of Windows, or the latest version of their preferred program, may not be available in the areas where they will be working, so they should bring their presentations saved in different formats. Saving files easily onto a CD or a thumb drive in multiple formats beforehand could avoid problems that a volunteer might otherwise have after arriving in the host country. Today, traveling with a laptop computer, iPad, tablet and small LCD projector is not unusual, so taking those pieces of equipment should be considered as well, although security for those particular items could be of some concern.
Another issue that can be overcome is a language barrier. Teaching in some areas of the world might require the use of an interpreter. As a volunteer, you should try to ascertain the level of language skills of the group with which you will be working and determine whether an interpreter who is proficient in dental terms will be available. If possible, volunteers should try to meet with the interpreter beforehand to make sure that the interpreter will repeat word for word what they are saying. While teaching, volunteers should not speak directly to the interpreter but address the patients or learners directly in order to gauge how much is being understood. Talking in short sentences and using simple terms can facilitate interpretation. After introducing each idea, instructors should stop to allow the interpreter to do his or her job. Any written notes for a lecture that can be provided to an interpreter ahead of time will be advantageous because notes can serve to inform an interpreter about the subject matter and can help him or her prepare for the translations.
The idea of teaching to a group can at first seem daunting. However, with preparation and strong knowledge of the subject, you can be a very effective teacher who makes a very significant difference in the lives of others.