Luna dental assistant students share lessons with youngsters
Both sides adapting to virtual setting
By Dave Kavanaugh
Luna Community College
Delivering educational messages on the importance of dental hygiene, Luna Community College’s dental assisting students have been busy this fall reaching out to area elementary and middle school classes.
Such presentations are typically a part of Luna’s dental assisting program, but moving them online has been necessitated by COVID-19 safety measures.
“Sharing our information and knowledge with kids is very critical,” said Luna dental assisting student Annalysse Lucero. “One of our jobs as a dental assistant is to help prevent any diseases of the oral cavity. Making sure kids know the proper way to brush and floss gives them the knowledge to ensure they’re doing it the right way. Nutrition and exercise is big as well – making sure you eat the right foods and drink plenty of water is a big help in making sure the teeth stay nice and strong.”
“It is very important to teach the littles about oral hygiene,” agreed classmate Alyssa Grego, “because not everyone knows how to brush and floss properly, and the only way to prevent problems in the future is to educate them on proper techniques now.”
“It’s unfortunate that we’re not able to be with them in person,” said Chantel Rivera, Luna dental assisting instructor. “In a normal setting we would be able to get the grade school students more involved by calling on volunteers to demonstrate what we explained on the proper techniques used for brushing and flossing. COVID has forced us to think outside the box and get creative with our presentations.”
Rivera helps set up the presentations and then ensures the Luna camera captures what her students are presenting so the youngsters get the most out of the presentations, which are delivered using the teleconferencing technology used to hold the classes themselves.
In addition to providing a community service, teaching the elementary and middle schoolers helps the Luna students better assimilate the material they are sharing.
“It helps me a lot as a student to teach the littles because going over the routines every week and switching roles helps me understand all the techniques and different information that is given from each of my peers,” Grego explained. “Going over something over and over again really helps it stick.”
“It helps a lot,” Lucero concurred. “Doing oral health presentations over and over, you find something new every time. It really intrigues me to learn information and pass it on.”
Adjusting and adapting to having more of their own learning experiences in a virtual setting is an ongoing challenge, but Luna’s dental assisting students are making it happen.
“It’s definitely challenging in some ways, as in being interactive with other classmates and instructors,” Lucero said, noting that she misses the classroom setting and the advantages of more hands-on activity.
Dealing with technical issues and the adjustment to online learning remains a work in progress for Grego. “Schedules were hectic at the beginning,” she noted, “but it’s slowly getting better … I’m doing as best as I can with all the challenges and restrictions with COVID-19.”
As an instructor, Rivera is also endeavoring to make the most of the situation.
“Some courses are easier to teach online,” she said. “The courses that require instrument identification and learning how to operate the different dental equipment have been the most difficult, but we’re finding ways to meet in the classroom by appointments for more hands-on learning. I think in a way it’s a small blessing in disguise because it allows for more one-on-one teaching and learning. Out class is already small to begin with, but breaking it down further really allows me to explain things on a more personal level … It gives me insight as to what each individual student is struggling with, and in return I can alter my teaching method to meet their needs.”
For more information on Luna’s dental assisting program and other educational and vocational offerings, please visit luna.edu.