As I prepare to teach an asthma class, I always get a little nervous. Depending on the school, I have three or four days to ensure that each student that enters my classroom leaves knowing at least one aspect about their asthma. I get overwhelmed by this task because I understand that though asthma is a manageable disease, it is crucial that a child learns how to keep their asthma under control because uncontrolled asthma can be fatal. The stakes are high.
Thankfully, Respiratory Health Association has developed Fight Asthma Now as a free, evidence-based asthma management program. This program uses engaging and active lesson plans to give children the tools and knowledge they need to identify and avoid their asthma triggers, manage asthma episodes, and control their asthma long-term. We also practice how to take medication with a spacer, a device that makes it easier for children to use their metered dose inhaler. Overall, this asthma class helps students take charge of their health by advocating for their needs.
As a health educator, it is not only my responsibility to follow my prepared lesson plans. I must also be responsive to the needs of individual students. I have to adapt my teaching methods to accommodate different learning styles and help each student process, comprehend, and retain the day’s lesson. I must ensure that I address any questions because many students don’t know much about how their asthma affects them. I even create fun games to help my students remember the content we discuss in class. Though my role can feel overwhelming at times, it's really the little things that comfort me. It's amazing that students can perfect proper inhaler technique within a few days. I find joy when they are able to quickly rattle off the answers to review questions. And most of all, I love when students tell stories of how they’ve used what they learned in class to manage their asthma.
When the asthma classes are over, I pack up my materials and I take time to reflect. My initial nervous feelings always subside because I understand the significance of health education. I recognize that I provide a service to help students learn skills they will use to control their asthma throughout their lifetime, and this relieves my anxiety.
This blog post was written by 2018-19 NHC Chicago member Jada McDonald.
Jadais a Health Educator at Respiratory Health Association.