Donna Patrick

Pickaway-Ross Career & Technology Center
Ross County, Ohio
Donna Patrick, Cosmetology Instructor

As any teacher can tell you, a lesson plan must be fluid. Never has that been more evident than now as we teach amid the pandemic.

At Pickaway-Ross Career & Technology Center in Chillicothe, Ohio, we are very fortunate that we were able to return to school in August, providing face-to-face instruction in essential career programs. Pickaway-Ross is one of only nine career centers in Ohio to open successfully with a full five-day in-person return.

While I adapted in the spring when Gov. Mike DeWine mandated that Ohioans shelter at home, teaching cosmetology online proved to be challenging. Making the most of the situation, creating my lesson on YouTube videos became essential for my seniors who had to take their licensing exam without me teaching them in person.

Even though I am a Cosmetology teacher, having a bachelor’s degree in Learning Design and Technology was more useful than I ever imagined it would be. Teaching online gave me the opportunity to mesh all of my online learning platforms together with my Cosmetology lessons. To prepare the seniors for their licensing exam, I worked online with each student individually as they watched the videos and then practiced them. All of the students who have gone to boards have passed their exam and are now licensed hairdressers in Ohio.

As we start the second nine-week period, the focus has shifted to working in person while making adaptations to ensure we follow increased safety protocols. For example, when providing manicures, plastic shields made by our maintenance staff members separate the client and stylist.

Cleaning and disinfecting is more important than ever. In the first eight weeks, the Cosmetology students went through twelve 32-ounce bottles of disinfectant. While disinfecting is always a part of our protocol, this shows that the students are doing their part in practicing infection control procedures.

In Cosmetology, mask wearing is essential and required by state board. On any given day, I may be helping a student make a mask as a new part of my lesson plans. Seeing a need for students to have masks, I explored the standards in my field and adapted my lesson plan. Now, learning to use shears and make alterations applies to making masks as well as cutting hair and altering wigs. Guidelines, CDC guidelines, PPE, tension, darts, and tucks are all terms used in Cosmetology. Those terms have taken on new meaning as we navigate our way through these unprecedented times.

It’s not only the lesson plan that’s fluid, I must be as well. While 99 percent of my students are in the lab with me every day, a few have chosen to learn remotely. Ohio State Cosmetology and Barber Board is currently allowing students to earn hours for hands-on lab work as well as theory and bookwork. To keep up with the students online, I communicate with them on Remind and have them submit their work in Google classroom.

Teaching is about more than providing students with information. Teaching is about connecting with young people and preparing them to be tomorrow’s workers and leaders.

It may be a little harder to make that connection through masks but it’s far easier to do it in the lab. But through it all, there’s no place I’d rather be than in the lab.

Disclaimer: Content provides insights on education practices from the perspective of schools, parents, students, grantees, community members and other education stakeholders to promote the continuing discussion of educational innovation. Content and articles are not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to be an endorsement by the Department or the Federal government of any views expressed, products or services offered, curriculum or pedagogy.