How Hands-On Classes Are Dealing With Online School

Cavalcade Staff

With the new virtual learning environment, many classes are having to relinquish precious in-person activities in favor of those that can be done through the computer screen. Classes that emphasize tactile learning are feeling this loss more than others, and teachers are working harder to give their students the instruction they need.

Many classes in FCPS’s Chantilly Academy focus on practical lessons, and teachers have creatively adjusted their instruction in order to make the most of online learning. 

Cosmetology—a course that teaches students how to care for hair, skin, and nails with an emphasis on safety and professional ethics—is best taught face to face. Wayne White, Chantilly’s Cosmetology teacher, explains how he most misses “seeing [students’] body language when they don’t understand something” and “[helping] them perform a skill that they were struggling with.” The online disconnect can be detrimental to accurately teaching material to students, but Mr. White faces this challenge by “supporting [his] practical lessons with videos to help support their learning.”

Chantilly’s Auto Technology course enables students to have hands-on experience learning about the major systems of automobiles, and instructor Samuel Little expresses his disappointment with not being able to “get that close relationship with [his] students.” To combat this, he has implemented creative online “strategies and examples to show students how it will be in the real world.”

Photo courtesy of Nina Cava.

Another Chantilly course that is feeling the disappointment of online learning is the Culinary Arts class, taught by Clay Doubleday. Culinary Arts is a class best done within the walls of a kitchen, but online learning unfortunately prevents this. Mr. Doubleday reveals his frustration with how “all the work that was hands-on and immediate is now just paperwork.” He does admit that this has been a challenging learning experience for him as well, but he has learned how to live stream his cooking lessons with three cameras: “one camera on [him], one on the prep area and one on the stove.”

This lack of hands-on experiences because of the virtual environment of school directly affects many Woodson art students. Senior Nina Cava explains her frustration with having trouble “finding the motivation to do art outside of the classroom environment.” While she finds it relieving that there is less setup involved before creating her works, she misses “viewing others’ work and receiving advice on [her] own art.”