I have assembled 10 key principles of teaching effective childbirth education classes, and am briefly addressing them in this blog. In no particular order, they are:
- Know how to teach
- Preparation of a dynamic course lesson plan
- Being Organized
- Evidence-based knowledge base
- Learner Assessment
- Critical Thinking
- Robust teaching techniques
- Motivational skills for engaging students
- Compassionate listening
- Problem solving
Consistency in attendance and desire to learn are the two most important considerations of any childbirth educator. How do we keep them coming back for more AND how do we keep them engaged in learning?
Let’s be honest…people do not have to attend childbirth education classes. These days, they can glean information from the internet and television and even from apps. As childbirth educators who are passionate about our profession, how can we keep people coming to the classes we love to teach? What can offer in a live classroom setting that they cannot get from apps, TV or the internet?
Here are five principles we need to understand when developing classes:
- 1) Adults need to develop and intrinsic motivation – an internal energy that emerges and connects the person with the need for this knowledge.
- 2) Adults need to desire the information and insight and skills we can teach them.
- 3) Adults’ attitude influence their behavior and their motivation.
- 4) When adults find significant meaning, this will facilitate sustained involvement.
- 5) Adults seek to be competent in a skill set and continued confidence building enhances competency.
To accomplish these principles and keep a motivated class, our childbirth education classes need to include activities for visual learners, auditory learners and kinesthetic (or tactile) learners. This means we cannot rely 100% on PowerPoint presentations and videos. Nor can we just lecture. Our classes must be entertaining, surprising and fun. If you must lecture for a long period of time, be sure to ask participants to think how it could relate to their birth plan (for example, medications). Frequent feedback and reinforcing the positive, help build their confidence and create a great learning environment.
Practice and reinforcement are also important elements – when adults find they are competent in a particular skill set, they are more likely to use it not only for the birth experience but also for other situations (such as breathing for birth and for other stressful life experiences).
Just as an attitude can positively influence behavior and motivation, it can also have a negative impact as well. If a participant feels that childbirth class is not going to be of help or has been told such, their attitude may not be one that will motivate them to complete the childbirth education class.
Other barriers to motivation include the childbirth educator’s attention to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (especially safety and love needs, which can include both safety at going home at night/being in a parking lot with dim lighting to acceptance in the class with educator or other class participants) and clarity of roles, particularly those of the labor support person/partner/spouse. By paying close attention to the various aspects of Maslow’s Needs and how they pertain to childbirth education classes AND making the role and skills of the labor support person clear, the childbirth educator can eliminate the beginning growth of these motivation barriers.
We can assume that we are not only “competing” for clients between ourselves as educators but also competing with the electronic media (TV, internet and apps). In the marketing that we do for our classes, this should be addressed by mentioning the benefits of attending an in-person childbirth education class. These benefits can include 1-1 interaction, immediate attention to questions, observation and confirmation of skill set accomplishment, and crafting the class curriculum to meet their specific needs.