DR. KATE DENNING PhD
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In 1995, not long after my first child was born, I realised that my job of teaching children made parenting a busman’s holiday.
I had always known I wouldn’t stay in the primary sector and that teaching adults was more suited to my nature, so I took the opportunity to do a Masters in adult education, the academic rigour of which I loved.
So much so that I moved almost seamlessly into my PhD, which was about the way in which group dynamics play out in online learning communities. While studying and teaching at the University of Manchester I was part of a collaboration with the University of Athens, Georgia which introduced me to Action Science and the work of Chris Argyris and colleagues.
I am so grateful to have had this early introduction to, and deep understanding of, challenging concepts such as advocacy with inquiry which is now used extensively in debriefing.
I was asked to become an educator for the Advanced Life Support Group (ALSG) and the Resuscitation Council (RCUK) in 1999. This was a step into the unknown, for I have no medical training; but I felt like I had come home. Right away I knew I had found what I was good at and the work has continued to fulfil me since my first course.
A paediatrician once said to me, 'You do the reading about education that I don’t have the time to do, and you then translate it for me, into my practice as a facilitator.' This is a privileged position, one which I take seriously, justifying reading all those interesting books as an essential part of my credibility and ongoing professional development.
But perhaps the most enjoyable part of my role is finding ways to make theory accessible, to inspire, motivate, amuse and tantalise others so that they can become better facilitators of learning.
I run practical workshops giving plenty of opportunity for course participants to try out different approaches to teaching. I am honest and empathetic in my feedback, usually able to hear when someone is making elusive steps to greater understanding about themselves because I don’t feel like I have to fill the silences.
It is disheartening how often education is sub-optimal and yet it underpins so much that is essential in society. This has been reiterated for me by the recent University experiences of my own children. I am driven by the desire to improve teaching and learning and to inspire teachers, tutors, lecturers and facilitators to become the best that they can be.
I am an educator for the Generic Instructor Course and lead educator for the Advanced Life Support Group.
I am involved in ongoing instructor training for tracheostomy care, safeguarding children, ill and acute medical patients and shop floor teaching. I have designed and run one and two day debriefing programmes in Britain and South Africa and advanced instructor training in Australia.
I am a great believer in the power of laughter and humility and create courses that, while eye-opening, are also a lot of fun. Specifically, I can design you a bespoke programme encompassing any of the following elements:
The resources section of this website contains some of my thinking and practical ideas on these topics, while a course would give you opportunities to discuss, disagree, conceptualise and practise.
I have been lucky enough to teach extensively in Europe, Australia, several African countries, Nepal and North America.
This has given me the opportunity to experience different approaches to education and authority as well as different cultures. I have learnt to adapt my style without compromising my essential belief about the capacity for learners to find within themselves the resources that they need to move forwards.
I have worked in schools, Universities, NHS trusts, simulation centres and charities. The majority of this work has been post graduate, but I have also worked with undergraduates; with teenagers on study skills; and with young and very young children. I have engaged in one to one mentoring and coaching; small group facilitation; large group lectures and discussion and have even managed to turn very large conferences into interactive sessions. This breadth of experience is unusual for an educator.
My perspective as an enlightened outsider has led to my evaluating courses and providing support to change elements to improve students’ learning. I know how hard people find this, I am conscious of the barriers that tutors and lecturers feel and am able to work gently with these in a challenging yet supportive setting.
I have written interactive online resources for a number of programmes including instructor training and facilitation. I have also adapted medical materials to online formats, working from an educational perspective.
The following are just some of the groups of people who I can help:
With increased emphasis on student satisfaction, the education sector needs to focus on their learning and I can help you with this.
We can work on presentations, tutorials and giving feedback which are common elements of the University lecturer’s job, and are often not done as well as they could be, due to lack of time and other pressing commitments. But for the students themselves, this is often frustrating and can lead to poor attendance.
I will work with you to make achievable, but significant, changes in your style which will increase both the learners’ satisfaction and your own.
This is a one day practical course with evidence-based theoretical input and opportunities to put new ideas into practice through exercises and workshops. I can accommodate 12 – 16 delegates, and can work within your institution.
Young people often struggle to make the transition to working at degree level and to becoming independent learners. This one hour practical and interactive session will introduce students to invaluable study skills to help them make the most of their degree and to become more effective engaged learners.
*Exclusive offer for the 2017 intake; three sessions for the price of two!
The medical education literature is forging ahead, supported by shared resources and ideas, often freely available to online communities, and reinforced by a plethora of research. And yet the vast majority of lectures and tutorials continue to ignore basic principles because of the enormous quantity of materials that need to be given to the learners.
Making changes on the ground can be a frustratingly slow process, but I can kick start this with you and your colleagues. Many doctors and nurses undertake educational roles with little or no training, even those who have will benefit from the perspective which I bring based on 30 years’ reflective experience within a wide range of settings.
It has long been acknowledged that debrief is the most significant aspect of simulation training and that without effective debrief, learning is sadly limited.
Debriefing is a difficult skill, sometimes mistakenly reduced to structures or simplistic elements. I will guide you through a number of different approaches, but will focus on specific listening skills and ways to articulate difficult issues without judging.
We will consider how to confront the elephant in the room and will have plenty of practices through role-play, written exercises and discussion. This is a one or two day programme depending on your needs and can be run in your simulation centre.
Teaching on the job is somewhat different from teaching in a training department; most pertinently, because the patient is there with you.
In this one day course, I will introduce you to ways in which you can carry out this teaching while remaining sensitive to the needs of the trainees and the patients.
This is a practical programme involving opportunities to try out new facilitation and coaching skills in small role play situations.
A great deal of teaching is about targets, justification and cramming and you know that this is not what you entered the profession for.
I can create for you the space to focus on genuine ways to capitalise on new findings into the ways in which children and young people learn. We can experience new techniques; try out fresh ideas in a supportive, focused and fun setting; give and receive feedback; discuss challenges and solutions and observe the strategies that other people find effective.
This action learning approach allows a small group of teachers to work together over a number of weeks and critically reflect on their own journey. It is highly effective for newly qualified teachers and for those who want to re-vitalise their teaching or explore innovative approaches.
Reduced rates available when working with several schools in one academy trust.
Kolb’s experiential learning cycle lies as the heart of my methodology.
Sessions are designed so that you experience the concepts in a variety of formats; reflectively discuss them, making links to your previous learning in order to embody them in a personalised way; then experiment within small group settings prior to taking ideas away to use in your own settings.
'Some thank yous are really hard to do, as I’m not sure if I can express quite how grateful I am for your hard work. Your immense expertise and professionalism shone through and you have given us so much to work on. There is a buzz on how to debrief and I really don’t want to lose that.' (Great Ormond Street, UK)
'Excellent course, fantastic facilitator.' (Hull, UK)
'Excellent day, lots to think about and experiment with. Should be interesting to see the trainees look in awe at my new listening and empathic persona!' (Hull, UK)
'A big thank you for the Simulation Debriefing workshop that you ran in Cape Town. Both Vic and I were sorry we could not do the Tuesday as well as we were so enjoying the Monday. It was definitely worth us flying down and we do hope to see you again and learn from you when we meet again. We love the way you teach.' (Cape Town, South Africa)
'I must thank you SO MUCH for your excellent workshop – it was a pleasure and I have had only positive feedback.' (Cape Town, South Africa)
'The time, energy, care, skills you shared, by coming over to Australia, was instrumental in the growth of Australian faculty. You may/may not appreciate the developments that were triggered by your ability to lead others to ‘unfreeze’ and open themselves to a different way of seeing, thinking, doing.' (Melbourne, Australia)
'Good ideas for changing learning tools from Kate, numerous ideas to put into practice.' (Derby, UK)
'Excellent course. Innovative ways of dealing with teaching in a time constrained environment.' (Leicester, UK)
'Really appreciated how Kate highlighted genuine areas to develop rather than just being generally nice and non-critical. Often in these sessions in an effort to avoid criticism the feedback is quite bland and this wasn’t the case here.' (Plymouth, UK)
'I appreciate too the calm openness you bring with you, both personally and professionally. It is so easy to be around and to learn from. How you are in the world shines a much needed light. Thank you.' (Leicester, UK)
'Kate is my favourite educator, she always gets it just right!' (Manchester, UK)