Whether you’ve been teaching Safe Sitter® for two years or 20, you’re no doubt interested to hear how other Instructors run a successful class. Here are insights from a few of your fellow Instructors on special things they do to have the best classes possible. Give these ideas a try. There’s no one secret to success!
Begin and end each class with a question. That’s what Amy Carey of Mercy Health System in Wisconsin does. “I always ask the kids what they think they will learn in class,” Amy says. The answer she hears at the start of class is how to take care of kids and change diapers. At the end of class, she asks students what they learned that they didn’t know before. By then, their answer has changed to knowing what to do if there is a problem in the house while babysitting. Asking a “before” and “after” question helps you gauge if students made that crucial shift in thinking about the seriousness of the responsibility, and it helps your students see just how much they’ve learned.
Be playful and have fun. Anyone who teaches young teens knows they can be fearful of being judged, and that makes it hard for them to open up and ask questions. As someone who works for a park, which are known for fun, Nancy Jagielski of Wauconda Park District in Illinois may have an advantage. “Anyone who works for a park has to have a little of Peter Pan in them,” she admits. But projecting a fun demeanor is something that any Instructor in any industry can do, and it can make all the difference in students’ comfort levels. “You have to sometimes act a little silly and be able to make fun of yourself in order for kids to relate to you,” Nancy says.
Remember what it was like to be a teenager. They say mother knows best. Jennifer Wellman of St. Vincent’s HealthCare in Florida got the best piece of advice about teaching from her mother, a former Instructor. “She would always say for me to put myself in students’ shoes,” Jennifer says. “Talk to the students the way I would have wanted to be talked to that age.” When teens are treated with that kind of consideration and respect, they naturally blossom.
Make it special. According to Missy Beauchamp of Chandler Regional Medical Center in Arizona, all of their Instructors have had their children take Safe Sitter®. Rather than teens who feel forced to take just another class, it’s become something more. “Our children sort of look at it as a ‘rite of passage’,” Missy says.