If you are like us, you probably struggle with keeping all of your class information, activities and handouts organized. You probably spend a good deal of time preparing for class each week and wish there was an easier way. We have some tips to help you streamline your preparation and save yourself time.
Write Your Lesson Plans
Whether you are a season childbirth educator or a newbie, it is important to have up-to-date lesson plans to help you stay organized, evaluate your course content and keep on task. Be sure to write up detailed lesson plans for each class in your course series. Your lesson plans should include:
- List of topics you will discuss
- Key points for each topic
- Time each topic should take
- Visual aids, handout and activities you'll use
When you are first starting out, you may find it helpful to write word for word what you would like to say and then practice the timing and flow. More experienced educators probably just need a bullet point or two for each topic. Having all of this information in an electronic format will make it easier to make changes to the class as you get feedback and gain experience. You can print a copy and use it as a reference during class to help keep you on task, but it is often better to “wing it” rather than read word for word from your lesson plans. If you are struggling with creating your lesson plans, we can help. We include sample lesson plans and tips for creating your own lesson plans in our Childbirth Curriculum.
Here is an example of a class lesson plan:
Organize Each Class with Files
If you haven’t done so already, create names for each class in your series/course. It could be simple, such as “week 1”, “week 2”, and “week 3” or more descriptive, such as “Healthy Pregnancy”, “Stages of Labor” and “Breastfeeding.” This will make it easier to find and organize your course materials. Create a folder on your computer for each class and/or label a file folder, binder tabs, box or other filing device with each class name. In each folder, add the class handouts, activities, and descriptive lesson plans that you will use for that week.
Choose Your Handouts Carefully
Often Educators purchase, create or find free handouts online that they give to their students. When well written and designed, these resources can be a great supplement to your course. To save time, purchase enough copies for several courses, paper clip them together and put them in the appropriate class folder. Create a master list of handouts you use by class and review your inventory every few months to ensure you do not run out.
Be sure to follow copyright permissions for the materials you use. Handouts you purchase are typically copyright protected and often can not be photocopied. “Copyright is a form of legal protection automatically provided to the authors of ‘original works of authorship,’ including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works.” Unless permission for copying and distributing is explicitly given, you are infringing on the copyright owner’s rights by copying and distributing their work and you could get into legal trouble. If permission is given, the document or website often includes a clause such as “You may copy and distribute this document, but may not alter it’s content.” If in doubt, contact the owner to ask permission or find a different resource to use.
Less is More
In the beginning, we were eager to give our students as much information as possible. We would give parents copies of everything we could find related to childbirth education. Then we realized that couples are being bombarded by information (from us, their friends/family and social media, etc.) and what they value most is help boiling it all down. Now we are selective about what we give as handouts, share online or discuss in class. We focus more on helping couples become good decision-makers, rather than overloading them with all of the potential topics they might want to make decisions about and we have less paperwork to to boot! Ask parents for feedback on topics or activities. Then schedule time every few months to review feedback and update your lesson plans to reflect the feedback.
Have a (Good) Website
It is so easy to create a simple, informative website (and be sure to follow our tips for making a useful website). Besides, being a great marketing tool, your website can be a hub of communication with your students outside of class (and/or use social media in the same manner). Create a webpage or a social media group and post weekly reminders, homework, resources or other information you want to share. Students can check in to learn more about topics you discuss in class and it will save you a ton of time. It will also save paper and allow the students to choose the content they wish to read.
Every 3 to 6 months, it is wise to go through your folders, clear out the unused materials, and delete or modify content that is no longer useful or is outdated. It feels great to have an organized system for classes and it will save you a ton of time and energy.
We would love to hear your tips for staying organized. Leave a comment below!
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