What happens when you change the structure of your classes? Whether you simplify, change the curriculum, or try something new entirely, how do you determine the outcome of that change?
We recently had an email conversation with one of our customers, Amy Haas, BCCE. Amy has worked as a Bradley Method instructor for the past 27 years. She initially contacted us after reading this email (which you should definitely check out), which spoke about the power of simplifying your classes and not overwhelming your students. Amy’s initial question was this:
“I'm curious as to whether the outcomes of her students were better? The same? Or worse?” after simplifying.
To answer her question, we must first determine how to track outcomes. Following your students and tracking them can be a challenge. The first place you want to start is to determine how you gauge the success of your classes. This can look different for each educator or teaching situation, and there is no right or wrong way to go about it.
Here are a few ways that we’ve seen our customers track the outcomes of their classes. We’ve used some of these ourselves in our work as childbirth educators:
1. Track enrollment numbers
Word of mouth and referrals are powerful tools in your business. You know you're on the right track as your enrollment numbers increase.
Tracking your student's knowledge and comfort level at the beginning and end of each class can help you judge the class's success in many ways.
3. Birth statistics
This can be one of the most challenging methods of tracking success because new parents have a lot going on and may need to remember to follow up with you or complete a post-birth questionnaire.
Although tracking comments and feedback in questionnaires may provide more anecdotal evidence, consider the power of client satisfaction in determining the success and outcomes of your classes.
When your students have a great experience in your class, they are more likely to search out providers that align with their beliefs and goals for their upcoming birth. This can decrease interventions, lead to fewer c-sections and make whatever type of birth they have a more positive experience.
“I like to tell my students that my goals for my classes are: healthy baby, healthy mom, and a positive birth experience,” Amy explains. At the end of the day, this is what we all want!
When you look at your classes and what you can do to improve your outcomes (whatever you may determine success to be), we recommend simplifying. In education, more is not always better.
As a educator, remember to leave your students with a manageable amount of information. It is vital to provide your students with the necessary information to make informed decisions about childbirth and parenting, but avoid the temptation to give them more than they need. Too much information can lead to confusion and frustration. It can lead to students feeling overwhelmed and unable to make decisions.
A few ways achieve balance are to:
1. Find the right schedule.
Schedule a class series for an appropriate amount of time to meet your student's goals and cover the content in your lesson plans without rushing. The more comprehensive your class is, the longer it should be. For example, Bradley classes are 12 weeks long and focused on natural childbirth. As Amy points out, 12 weeks is “how long it takes a human to assimilate a new thought pattern/behavioral changes.”
When teaching a long series is not possible, then the amount of information you cover should be reduced to the most essential and helpful content. We recommend a six or eight hour class to cover all of the important content for a childbirth class (and our Childbirth Curriculum includes lesson plans you can customize to fit your needs). If you don't have that much time, you'll need to get creative with what and how you teach.
2. Choose your resources carefully.
Avoid using too many resources or pulling information from multiple books or curriculums. This creates a disjointed approach, appears haphazard, and may even introduce conflicting information if you're not careful.
Choose curriculum that is tested and aligns with the principles needed to provide the right information without the overwhelm. Plumtree Baby's Childbirth Curriculum not only incorporates vital health literacy principles so your students can process, understand, and retain the information you teach them, but it also aligns to Lamaze standards as well!
Remember Learning Styles
Try to be aware of your student's learning styles and tailor their instruction accordingly. For example, some students may need visual aids to understand the material. In contrast, others may need more of a hands-on approach. Understanding your students' learning styles will help you to provide them with the best possible instruction.
We were particularly attentive to this area when we created our starter packs. With a PowerPoint, videos, handouts, and activities, we covered multiple learning styles to ensure that your students have the best learning experience.
It’s Ok to Re-evaluate
Childbirth is a complex and highly personal experience. However, as a childbirth educator, it is your job to not overwhelm them with too much information. Instead, give them the information they need to make informed decisions and provide plenty of opportunities to ask questions and practice what they have learned. This will help ensure your students feel confident and leads to greater class success.
Remember that it’s ok to re-evaluate your methods and materials as you go. Use your feedback to make positive changes to your classes. Education is dynamic and fluid. You should always look for ways to improve and make a bigger impact!
Disclaimer: All content provided is for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease and no alterations in exercise should be taken solely on the contents of this website. Consult your physician on any topics regarding your health and fitness. Plumtree Baby, LLC does not assume any liability for the information contained herein, be it direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages.
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