If you read this column regularly, you know that I am a believer in lesson and auxiliary handouts. I have found over the years that during the first few lessons an owner with an untrained dog may be so concerned about their dog’s behavior during class they miss about half of the instruction. The handouts can be very helpful to the owner once they are back home and on their own.
For years I have given the initial handouts at the first class in a manila envelope and then after each subsequent class I would give out the lesson and handouts for that week for the student to put in the envelope once at home. This worked pretty well but had some drawbacks; the biggest were:
The handouts could get destroyed or lost and then be of no help at all.
Another instructor started teaching classes at my facility and it was a hassle to always make sure she had the correct handouts.
As I was talking to my high-tech husband, John, about the situation he suggested I create a booklet with all the lessons and handouts in it to give out the first night and be done with it. At first I was concerned about giving out all the lessons at once, but concluded that if the student misses a class or drops out they will at least have the lessons they need. I already have collected the class fee so it really doesn’t change that aspect for me.
There are three options to talk about when creating a booklet: temporary, such as a three ring binder; semi-permanent, such as a 19-hole comb bound booklet; or permanent, which would mean going to a print shop. John convinced me that I could make an attractive booklet with minimum cost by purchasing a comb-binding machine. It would mean the booklet would be easy to use, portable, and the pages would not fall out very easily.
You can purchase a binding machine at most office supply stores. There will be a few different models to choose from, with each having a different capacity, and of course, different prices. We found the prices to range from $100.00 to $300.00. The larger model could punch up to 20 pages at a time, handle a variety of different print media such as computer printouts or magazines, and bind up to 2 inches of documents. The next model down was the same as the higher priced one except it could not support the variety. The less expensive binding machine can punch 12 pages at a time and bind a document up to 5/8 inches.
Once you have purchased the machine you must also purchase the combs that hold the document together. The combs come in a variety of colors and sizes, ranging from ¼ inch, 20-page capacity to 1 inch, 200-page capacity, and the prices ranging from $6.00 to $20.00 for 100. You will also need cover sets; these come in different textures and colors and cost about $8.00 for 25 sets.
I spend about 8 hours at my computer putting all my lessons and handouts into a booklet format. I needed to make sure the look was uniform and to break up the text I added some clip art. I arranged the booklet so that the appropriate auxiliary handouts followed the lesson they related to. I also added a blank piece of colored paper in between the lessons to make the booklet user friendly. Once that was all done, I made the table of contents and was ready to start binding.
I purchased the binding machine that can punch up to 12 pages at a time. My booklet would use the 3/8 inch 55-page capacity comb. The first few documents I did took awhile as I experimented with the machine doing things like punching the wrong end of the pages, not getting the pages in the puncher straight, or not noticing that I had bound two back covers instead of one. With all that behind me I can now watch TV, have a glass of wine, and bind booklets without too many mistakes (with the wine I don’t care as much). The comb-bound booklet looks very professional and if you were to personalize the cover it would be a good advertisement for your business as it sits on your client’s coffee table. This was a good idea of my husband’s (don’t you just hate it when that happens!).
©1997 Carol Cronan