What does it take to win a learning and teaching award? In this series of Teche posts we showcase our award-winning teachers and uncover the methods and approaches behind their award-winning practice.

Camille Rahme is a Unit Convenor in the Department of Chiropractic, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences. For 17 years, he has taught undergraduate and postgraduate chiropractic students, inspiring them to excel in physical assessment and manual therapy intervention critical for developing clinical competency and professionalism.

Camille won the Sessional Staff Award in the 2023 Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Awards.

I love to teach, but I also love to learn—and teaching offers lots of opportunities for learning. Whether it’s researching a topic related to student interests or questions or exploring new ideas on how to teach. Add in a wide mix of cultures and backgrounds to the classroom and the different experience students bring and I learn something new daily.

The 3 pillars of Camille’s teaching practice:

Each stage of learning presents unique challenges for my students. Students entering university from high school often feel anxious or uncomfortable when faced with physical examination of peers. Students at the pre-professional stage can become overwhelmed when preparing for transition to practice.

Camille’s teaching philosophy centres on creating a safe and cohesive learning environment, respecting cultural and diversity beliefs. This fosters a true sense of belonging and connectedness essential to create a nurturing and inclusive environment that supports students to fully participate in the practical development and application of their clinical skills. This is fostered through:

  • being welcoming and approachable.
  • leading classroom team building exercises so that students have a positive attitude to classroom participation.
  • providing students with opportunities to immerse themselves in real world chiropractic practice situations to develop problem solving skills from the first year of studying.
  • inspiring students to love learning and believe in themselves.

Students learn differently, and helping students understand this while finding different approaches that suit their individual learning styles isn’t always easy. But I love knowing that a student has not only mastered a skill or topic but also learned how to learn. I like to think I’m creating lifelong learners.

Camille scaffolds the student learning experience and promotes autonomy, problem solving and collaboration – all essential skills for lifelong learning. This is achieved through a combination of:

  • breaking down complex concepts into manageable chunks, empowering students to grasp foundational knowledge and build progressively.
  • providing clear explanations complemented by hands-on examples.
  • using interactive demonstrations to teach clinical techniques.
  • implementing real world case-based learning to instil confidence, connect theory to practice with patient videos and case notes and simulate clinical decision-making.
  • incorporating knowledge and advice from private practice into the curriculum.
  • supporting students in developing effective diagnostics and treatment plans for optimal patient outcomes.
  • guiding students to develop and excel in key competencies.
  • teaching students to provide constructive feedback to each other using a rubric.

An innovative approach employed by Camille is to teach students how to be a tutor – to provide constructive feedback to each other, just like a tutor would. He explains exactly what a tutor would look for in the performance of a specific technique and how to provide good feedback using a specially developed rubric. Camille enjoys observing the resulting student interactions: a student demonstrating a concept to a struggling classmate, another grasping a concept or developing a brilliant strategy of their own, or others applying their knowledge to ask “What if …” or suggest, “Now we could …”.

According to Christopher Burrell, (Director of Education, Department of Chiropractic), Camille’s approach “is very powerful as it disrupts the student experience and shifts their focus from receiving instruction about their own performance of a technique into the critical appraisal of others which in turn helps the student better understand and utilise the feedback they receive… and it helps both students grow”.

Feedback from Camille’s students

This class is very open where there is no shame in all the bodies. It provides a raw experience for students to expand knowledge and puts students straight into a real chiro situation where we have the problem-solving skills from the first year of studying.

I love that our whole cohort is respectful towards one another and towards the tutors too. I was extremely nervous beginning practical classes, but you made me feel so comfortable and eased my nerves from the very beginning.

When I began working as a Chiropractor, I was faced with a lot of the examples Camille had taught us about, and I felt I was now better prepared for them.

Camille sums up his approach to teaching…

Modelling empathy allows me to recognise my student’s feelings and support their emotional well-being. I regularly reach out, arriving to class a few minutes early or staying back to talk with students and tap into my own experiences. I embody Theodore Roosevelt’s phrase: “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”. This sentiment lies at the heart of my teaching and reflects my vision for my students and my own clinical practice. True person-centred clinical care requires topic expertise, empathy, and mutual understanding.

Visit the Awards for Excellence in Education site for details, deadlines and guidance on writing your application.

Read about our other award winning teachers

Banner image: Image by freepik
Post compiled by Kylie Coaldrake

Posted by L&T Development

The Learning and Teaching Staff Development team works with staff across the University to ensure they are supported to facilitate quality learning for students. This includes offering professional development, contributing to curriculum and assessment design, recognising and rewarding good practice, supporting peer review of teaching, and leading scholarly reflection. Email professional.learning@mq.edu.au with questions or requests.

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