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.
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. For each class, list the topics you will discuss, the key points for the topic and include the time each topic should take. 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. For each class lesson plan, include the visual aids, handouts and activities you will need for that class. (See our Lesson Plans Made Easy Webinar replay for more tips.) 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 or Instructor's Guide. Here is a preview of a class lesson plan:
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.
Often Childbirth Educators purchase or find free handouts online that they give to their students. These resources can be a great supplement to your course. To save time, purchase or make enough copies for several courses, paper clip them together and put them in the appropriate class folder. If you are making copies of handouts created by other people, be sure you are following the copyright permissions for each document you copy. “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. For more information, visit the website of the US Coypright Office.
Less is More?
In the beginning, we were eager to give our students as much information as possible. We would print copies of everything we owned related to childbirth education, but then we realized that couples are being bombarded by information (from us, their friends/family and the web) 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!
Have a (Good) Website
It is so easy to create a simple 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 page or a Facebook group and post weekly reminders, homework, resources or other information you want to share. Students can check in here 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. Add your comments below and be sure to pin the image at the top to Pinterest so you don't forget this next year!
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