I have assembled 10 key principles of teaching effective childbirth education classes, and am briefly addressing them in this blog. Part 3 in the Series is "Being Organized". Over the course of the next 10 blogs entries, I will address each one of these key principles so that you can enhance your own childbirth education classes! Please read Part 1 and Part 2!
It is said, "Give a busy person something to do and it will get done". So goes childbirth education. I have never met a childbirth educator who doesn't have at least 1-5 other things going on in her life. She is either balancing other professional jobs such as lactation consulting or doula work or nursing and/or also balancing family. The professional juggler has nothing on THIS woman.
So organization is key to being a successful childbirth educator. The facets of organization include: class organization, teaching strategy organization, business organization and marketing organization.
Do you have a curriculum for each class you want to teach? That is a very good place to begin! Put each in a binder with the evidence-based research behind all of the topics you teach per class. Make the research in the last 3-5 years, as that is what the medical professional tends to listen to ~ update your research every 6 months or so. Organize your handouts by class even if used for multiple classes. Either make several copies and keep copies on hand, or file them in appropriate folders on your hard drive. Use Post-It repositionable tabs to identify sections for class in manuals. Use one color per class. Use a highlight marker to help identify items you want to be sure and point out. (Not sure what manuals to purchase? There are currently 3 on the market and you can ask for samples so you can make a decision: Customized Communications, The Family Way and ICEA.)
Teaching Strategy Organization
When creating the curriculum, one of the concepts that deserves a great deal of attention is what type of teaching strategies will be used to cover a specific topic. A beginning list of teaching strategies is listed here. Remember there are all types of learners - some prefer to learn via video or web, some lecture, some by making lists or sitting in buzz groups. Demonstration and return demonstration, especially when discussing the use of a birthing ball, ensures that proper use, positioning and comfort are achieved! Sometimes, having charts and models as manipulatives can enhance learning. Many educators prefer to have a baby and pelvis, a few charts and one to two movies per class. These items, along with lecture, discussion and a few homework assignments can greatly enhance the confidence of the learner.
Whether you are teaching for a facility or as an independent educator, have a business sense will be invaluable. Keep track of those who attend your classes and follow up with them after they birth their babies. Assemble all of your receipts, mileage on your car and any other expenses so you can deduct them on your taxes - this also includes business lunches, conferences, and magazine subscriptions/new reference material! The costs do add up and you may be surprised at what you spend on your business during any given year. Even when you order business cards (as we'll talk about in the Marketing section below), these costs can be deducted. Need a hand in keeping track of your expenses? Check out Childbirth Educator Office!
The most fun, yet terrifying part of the Technicalities of Teaching Childbirth Education is marketing. Getting the word out about your service is key to success, professionally and financially. Your certifying organization should have a directory of members who perform the same services. Listing there is a great first step. Find other searchable databases that parents frequent, and list your services there. Birthsource has two searchable databases that are free to list: the US/Mexico and Canada, and the International Birth & Breastfeeding Center. The newest searchable database is Childbirth Experts, developed by the owners of Birthsource and Websource LLC. This database is for all of the US, and includes short descriptions of the various services along with contact information. The American Pregnancy Association also has a database for listing your services. Along with your website, consider a Facebook page, Twitter account and a blog. While somewhat time consuming, web based marketing is THE way to reach expectant parents today! You may also want to consider business cards for a more personal marketing technique: great deals on business cards are at www.vistaprint.com and www.zazzle.com!