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New education opportunities for current and future educators

Feb. 25, 2021
JELL-ED provides opportunities to help good hygienists become good educators during a time of global health-care educator shortage.

Okay, class, it’s time for a one-question exam.


A.  A tasty gelatinous dessert

B.  A semirigid polymer

C.  A state of mental inactivity brought on by classroom boredom

D.  An organization designed to provide educational content for dental hygiene educators by educators as a means to bridge the gap between instruction and the instructor

If you answered “D,” you are correct. But if you have been out of the classroom for a while, you may have to read that definition more than once to understand its meaning. Educational content for educators by educators? Instruction and the instructor?

Perhaps it would be helpful if we expanded on the definition. The job of dental hygiene instructors is to teach students. Most dental hygiene instructors are dental hygienists themselves, and while they may be very good clinicians, they may have little experience in planning syllabi, teaching technique, revision curriculum, and navigating the world of learning. JELL-ED aspires to create good educators out of good hygienists during a time of global health-care educator shortage.

JELL-ED had its beginnings in September 2020 when the four founders, all speakers and dental hygiene educators, got together to discuss the difficulties dental hygiene educators face in both obtaining quality methodology training and motivating clinicians to cross the barrier between clinical practice and becoming educators. They recognized a need for various types of training using a platform where educators could discuss best ways to teach, ask questions, and provide answers in a safe environment where they would not be judged for their current level of understanding, but applauded for their willingness to ask questions and share information with colleagues.

The four founders, Joy Void-Holmes, Emily Boge, Lisa Bahr, and Lory Laughter combined the first letters of their first names—JELL—and created JELL-ED, whose mission is “to promote education for educators by educators and inspire lifelong learning and leadership that will make a lasting difference.”

There are national standards for dental hygiene education, developed by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), whose mission is to serve “the public and profession by developing and implementing accreditation standards that promote and monitor the continuous quality and improvement of dental education programs.”1

CODA assures that students attending an accredited dental hygiene program will receive a certain level of education that meets its standards. It is a required stamp of approval for licensure in almost every state and the District of Columbia. The CODA accreditation process includes a standard that requires educators receive training in how adults learn and how to transfer information to meet various types of learners. This educational training also relates to how specific subjects within the dental hygiene curriculum are taught.

Dental hygiene instructors may be extremely knowledgeable about dental hygiene, and yet still feel inadequate when it comes to imparting that knowledge to their students. The founders explain that educators often feel isolated within their schools, much like private practice hygienists can feel in their individual offices. This is where JELL-ED comes in; the program provides resources to educate educators in a safe, no-judgment environment. JELL-ED provides these educators with a network of colleagues for support and career growth.

In January 2021, JELL-ED provided the first of its monthly webinars via Zoom. The topics for 2021 are as follows:

  • January: COVIDnew clinical protocols
  • February: Navigating learning management systems
  • March: Preparing students for the manikin exam
  • April: How to have critical conversations with students with confidence
  • July: Student orientation—practices and protocols
  • August: Creating culture
  • September: Clinical faculty calibration
  • October: Bullying—student to student, student to faculty, faculty to faculty
  • November: Navigating negative student feedback
  • December: Ending on a positive note—spreading cheer at the end of the year

There is no Zoom webinar in May. Instead, JELL-ED will hold its annual conference as a virtual event, May 27-29, 2021.

For information regarding webinars, the annual conference, or to learn more about JELL-ED, you are invited to join the JELL-ED Facebook group, Jell-Ed.


1. CODA mission. Commission on Dental Accreditation. American Dental Association.

Kirsten Brancheau, BA, RDH, has been practicing clinical dental hygiene since 1978. She earned an associate degree in applied science in dental hygiene from Union County College in 1977 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Montclair State University in 1988. She is a member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Brancheau is also a freelance proofreader, editor, and writer. She can be reached at [email protected].