Series: On the Independent Track to Becoming a Lamaze Trainer – The Curriculum Gets Written (Almost)!
By Jessica English, LCCE, FACCE, CD/BDT(DONA)
Late last year, LCCE Jessica English began the path to become an independent trainer with Lamaze International, as part of the just opened “Independent Track” trainer program. This new program helps qualified individuals become Lamaze trainers – able to offer Lamaze childbirth educator trainings which is one step on the path for LCCE certification. She’s agreed to share her trainer journey with us in a series of blog posts; “On the Independent Track to Becoming a Lamaze Trainer”, offering insights at key milestones in the process. You can read the first part of Jessica’s journey here. Today, Jessica updates readers on her progress as she tackles the curriculum. If you are interested in becoming a trainer of Lamaze Childbirth Educators, you can find information on applying for the November 2015 Independent Track Program on the website now, and applications are due August 31, 2015. – Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.
I am so ready to start training childbirth educators!
Unfortunately, my curriculum is not so ready. But I’m getting there — and building lots of empathy for the process my future students will be going through as well.
After finishing my trainer workshop in November, I spent some time processing everything I’d learned. I felt excited about becoming a Lamaze trainer, but I wasn’t ready to jump into writing my curriculum. This is a pretty typical pattern for me, so I was patient with what I know to be a healthy process for myself. I think and process and mull… And then when I’m ready I leap.
As winter turned to spring in the U.S., I watched a few of my classmates finish their curricula and start promoting their trainings. Awesome! Birth workers I had connections with from around the country started asking me when I’d be teaching my first workshop. Wonderful! I started a list of future Lamaze educators so I can update them when I am fully approved to train. I started to feel ready to leap, but the days, weeks and months flew by without much of a dent in my curriculum. I run a busy doula agency and I’m a birth doula trainer and business coach. Not to mention teaching my own childbirth classes and taking care of my own doula clients! And did I mention that I organize a major baby and family expo each February? The phone was always ringing, the email never stopped, meetings dotted each day. I’d jot down ideas or bookmark a resource that I wanted to use with my students. I tried reserving an hour a day to work on the curriculum, but it was challenging to really hold that time sacred. I also found it hard to clear out other distractions. It felt like just as I’d really dig in to a topic, time was up and I needed to move on to another (wildly different) task.
Years ago in my corporate life, I learned the Eisenhower Decision Matrix for categorizing tasks (popularized by Stephen Covey). I sometimes use this matrix with my business coaching clients. Tasks are divided into categories of urgent, important, both or neither. Using this tool, I could see that I was stuck mostly in the urgent column, but not getting to the Lamaze trainer curriculum because although it was extremely important, it was in no way urgent. It was time to prioritize the important.
I checked in with a couple of folks in my brain trust, sharing my frustration about finding the time to write. (I’ll bet you have a brain trust too! This is my inner circle of trusted advisors that I turn to for support. Some of them are paid, others are mentors or friends with whom I’ve developed a circle of reciprocity — “you help me engineer my life, I’ll help you figure out yours too.”)
My business advisor suggested a retreat. I talked with another brain trustee, looking for ideas on an affordable retreat. She mentioned Gilchrist, a local retreat center where I could rent a simple cabin and spend a couple of days in the woods. Yes! Perfect! My brain trust had come through for me again.
I reserved three days and two nights in the woods, packed up my food, teaching supplies and laptop. My goal was to leave the retreat center with a fully written curriculum ready to submit to Lamaze International for review. Gilchrist is a 45-minute drive from my home, so I tried to use the drive time to clear out all of the “urgent” from my system. The cabin and the grounds were beautiful. There was no wifi in my cabin and even phone service is spotty, which made it easier to focus in on the curriculum. Each day I walked the trails, cooked, wrote and meditated on everything new childbirth educators would need to make a real difference for families.
I felt connected and focused. It’s always easier for me to tackle big tasks in one large chunk than to piecemeal it, and the retreat was just what I needed. As I think ahead to helping new educators find time to finish their curricula and plan for their classes, I’ll offer the options of reserving small chunks of time over a long period (this works well for some people, even though it’s not a great match for my personal style) or maybe booking their very own Lamaze retreat.
Unfortunately, I didn’t quite reach my goal to finish the trainer curriculum on retreat. I’m close, though. Another full day of writing should be enough to wrap up what I need to submit to Lamaze International’s lead nurse planner, Susan Givens. An interesting sidelight of the trainer process is that I’m getting laser focused on my own childbirth classes. What are the strongest pieces of my curriculum? Where are the weak links? If I’m training new educators, I want to be sure I’m modeling the best teaching techniques in my own classes. So tucked into the calendar this summer, I have another full day reserved for finishing my trainer curriculum, and also a full day to re-examine and revitalize a few topic areas in my own eight-week Lamaze series.
I’m still puzzling through a few technical issues with the curriculum. I’m working toward enough structure that I can make sure attendees get everything they need, but also some flexibility to let them take the reins at times. I want to model the same innovative teaching techniques I hope they will use in their own classes. I’m grateful for my experience not only as a childbirth educator for the past decade but also as an approved birth doula trainer for DONA International. I have a great sense of both the research and the reality of adult learning. Also on the docket: figuring out how my business curriculum will be incorporated into my Lamaze workshop. Should it be part of the core training, or an extra day or half day that new educators can opt into if they’re planning to teach independently? Business building is a big part of my focus in the birth world, so this piece of the curriculum is really important to me! Some of this will come clear as I finish writing, but experience also tells me that things will shift and adjust as I start to train and get a sense for what works best in action.
To use a birth analogy (because Lamaze educators can turn everything into a birth analogy!), my trainer curriculum feels like it’s in transition. Intense. A little overwhelming. But transition! What a fantastic place to be! Almost there. Keep going. Almost there.
About Jessica English
Jessica English, LCCE, FACCE, CD/BDT(DONA), is the founder of Heart | Soul | Business. A former marketing and PR executive, she owns Birth Kalamazoo, a thriving doula and childbirth education agency in Southwest Michigan. Jessica trains birth doulas and (soon!) Lamaze childbirth educators, as well as offering heart-centered business-building workshops for all birth professionals.