Contemporary healthcare has a number of treatments and preventive plans to cure various sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). At the same time, modern society is constantly exposed to the risks of contracting STDs of different kinds and the rates of spreading of these diseases and infections are extremely high. This occurs due to the lack of education and awareness in society, especially among young individuals. In order to approach this public health problem, upstream medical professionals actively work on raising awareness about the risks and threats by means of teaching sexual health in schools to young people who have just start being sexually active or who are getting ready to engage in physical closeness. This paper provides a detailed report about a teaching experience during sexual health lessons orientated at primary prevention of STDs and health promotion. The report provides a summary of the teaching plan, the epidemiological rationale for the topic, evaluation of teaching experience, the response of the addressed community, and the analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the teaching plan.
Summary of Teaching Plan
The topic of the lesson delivered according to the teaching plan was primary prevention of STDs and health promotion. The target audience of the teaching plan included high school students. Putting the lesson plan into practice is utilized the use such materials as laptop, DVD, overhead screen, chalk, pens, paper, index cards and condoms. The lesson began with an ice breaking activity of mingling and getting to know each other by means of shaking hands and introducing themselves, which I primarily demonstrated shaking hands with several students. This activity was meant as a demonstration of the mechanism of spreading of STDs. Together with the class I tracked the hypothetical disease asking the students I shook hands with to stand up, and then identifying the people who shook hands with them, and so on until the whole class was standing up with the exception of one student, who deliberately was left out of the activity. This was the demonstration of the effect of sexual abstinence. After that the students were given a lecture concerning the most popular STDs such as gonorrhea, syphilis, Chlamydia, genital herpes, human paillomavirus. This stage relied on PowerPoint presentation which described the signs and symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases, and the ways of their treatment and prevention. To follow through with the lecture and improve its effect the students were divided into groups and asked to test each other’s knowledge about the presented STDs. Next, the students were taught refusal skills to help them maintain sexual abstinence. The practice that followed was designed to educate the learners about condoms, how to inspect them, check their quality and use them. A demonstration of application of condom was provided in a form of video. To monitor the result and effectiveness of the lesson I asked students some final questions considering their impression of the lesson and its use for them which they answered anonymously. Finally, to end the lesson effectively I demonstrated a YouTube video of Stayin’ Alive campaign involving MTV and Facebook. In this teaching plan I employed age-appropriate date and resources trying to integrated the teaching into the everyday life of the teenagers. Besides, I used a lot of demonstrations because I find visual perception one of the most effective means of introducing information.
Epidemiological Rationale for Topic
Teenagers and adolescents typically experience curiosity concerning their sexuality and their bodies. This aspect of life is relatively new to them and they actively explore it engaging in sexual intercourse with their peers. The lack of information, awareness and knowledge about risks and dangers of unprotected sex leads to high rates of early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers. The survey data presented by CDC shows that 47% of the high school students who were surveyed in 2013 were sexually experienced, of them 34% had had sexual closeness within the three months before the survey, and of these 41% did not use condom during their last intercourse (Sexual Risk Behavior: HIV, STD, & Teen Pregnancy Prevention, 2013). Half of all STD cases are represented by young patients of 15 to 24 years, approximately 10000 of the United States citizens of that age were diagnosed with HIV in 2013. Besides, the number of patients reporting Chlamydia that year was 1,401,906; 333004 reported Gonohrrea, 22% of which were patients aged 15 to 19 (Reported STDs in the United States 2013 National Data for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis, 2013). This data is very disturbing, especially knowing that each of the STD rates undergoes several percent growth every year and the number of infected individuals constantly growth. Addressing people at the developmental stage when they just start engaging into sexual interactions is the best way to act on a problem. Besides, teenagers facing lack of experience feel the need for advice, this is why providing demonstrations and giving sexual health lectures in high schools is epidemiologically appropriate.
Evaluation of Teaching Experience
The vast majority of school students are willing and ready to obtain education about sexual health and responsible adult lifestyle. The problem is that the information concerning this subject is often presented not in the way young people would like to receive it (The Need for Sexual Health Education, n. d.). Preparing to teach a sexual health lesson to teenagers I was ready to face a number of challenges such as embarrassment, outbursts of immature reactions, inappropriate jokes, reluctance to participate in teaching activities or ask questions. All of these behaviors are normal for the school children during the lectures on sexual heath. It was important to establish some rules for the class to set the limitations concerning behaviors. To reduce the level of discomfort I used more casual approach and minimized the gap between the students and myself. The atmosphere of comfort, security and trust is required for the students to feel at ease during sexual education and to encourage them to actively participate in the lesson (Setting Ground Rules, 2008). I must admit that I was lucky to have several active and more relaxed and confident individuals in the class. Shy students followed their lead and opened up after a while. At the same time, there were students who still refused to participate, which I allowed because the main aspect was that they paid attention to the lesson and observed all the activities and conclusions carefully. Naturally, some jokes and comments were present. A couple of students were particularly humorous about the lesson, but instead of dismissing them I explained that this topic was only funny until they had no personal experiences of dealing with STDs many of which were chronic, lethal or could seriously damage their health. These students became the first ones I invited to participate in role playing activity about saying ‘no’, they fooled around with the task which actually helped to loosen up the mood of the class and allowed us to continue our serious conversation. Role playing activity was rather difficult because some of the students had problems taking it seriously.
Community Response to Teaching
During my lesson there were no serious disruptions part from minor disorder caused by the learners’ embarrassment and desire to make the atmosphere less serious and more comfortable. I was prepared for worse reaction of the community. Some of the students turned out to have peers facing STDs, this is why they were ready and open to learn about the diseases, how they can be recognized, treated and prevented. In my opinion, the fact that students knew someone experiencing STDs was the catalyst for their appreciation of the lesson and information I presented because sexually transmitted disease did not seem like an unreal threat that only exists is scary urban legends, but was an actual every day risk dangerous for everyone. In the questionnaires the students filled in anonymously after the lecture most of the learners noted that the information was presented in a clear and comprehendible way. Some of the students asked me to provide reliable websites for them to read about STDs and sexual health at home. Students asked several questions concerning the topic of the lesson, they wondered if any other birth control means could protect them from contracting STDs and if the diseases could be recognized at the stages when they showed no obvious symptoms.
Areas of Strengths and Areas of Improvement
I perceived the conducted lesson as a successful teaching practice. I managed to keep the student’s attention during the course of the lecture and emphasize the most important aspects. The variety of activities and the kinds of memory used in them made the teaching efficient and the information presented in the lesson memorable. The majority of teenagers seemed interested to learn about STDs, wrote down signs and symptoms, and took part in the activities without giving in to immature reactions and behaviors. In the commentary sections of the anonymous questionnaires the students mentioned that the demonstration of how to put on a condom correctly was very useful. According to their answers, the most boring part of the lesson was when they very divided into groups and had to ask each other questions about different STDs. Based on my perception as the teacher, the role playing part was the least successful because the students did not take it seriously. Besides, in maximized the level of discomfort in the class because the students were to re-enact private real life situations. In order to improve the effect some other teaching practice designed to promote abstinence is to be chosen.
In conclusion, abstinence is the perfect way of STD prevention, but abstinence only works when a person is using it consistently, because abstinence fails when the person breaks their own rules and engages into sexual contact spontaneously, and this makes abstinence less effective than condoms (Dailard, 2003). Besides, the importance of condoms is crucial because teenagers tend to have relatively short relationships and end up changing partners often (Sex, pregnancy and abortion, 2012). This is why the use of condoms is to be emphasized during the STD prevention lessons, while the issues of self-respect and value of one’s body have to be carried out by specially trained psychologists.
Dailard, C. (2003). Understanding ‘Abstinence’: Implications for Individuals, Programs and Policies. The Guttmacher Report, 6(5), 4-6.
Reported STDs in the United States 2013 National Data for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis. (2013). CDC. Web.
Setting Ground Rules. (2008). Teaching Sexual Health. Web.
Sex, pregnancy and abortion. (2012). Guttmacher Institute. Web.
Sexual Risk Behavior: HIV, STD, & Teen Pregnancy Prevention. (2013). CDC. Web.
The Need for Sexual Health Education. (n. d.). Media Smarts. Web.