COVID restrictions have created quite the challenge for teachers’ instructional approach this school year.
Leto High’s Chef Debra Hladky is one of many Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers who is facing the new task of simultaneously teaching both brick and mortar and eLearning students. Like many in the profession, finding the right ingredients to create engaging experiences for students in her award-winning culinary arts program is her toughest challenge.
“The best part of this class is the hands-on learning,” said Chef Deb, Leto’s culinary arts instructor. “The kids are in the kitchen on a daily basis practicing and applying everything we learn in the classroom.”
But how does she keep her online learners engaged?
“I like to bring them into the kitchen,” Chef Deb said with her laptop in her hand. “I bring the laptop in and ask them questions throughout the class just like I’m asking the students who are physically present.”
In addition to the live tutorials, she creates weekly YouTube videos highlighting the concepts she covers each week. These demonstrations allow for students to try the recipes at home on their own time.
“It helps them reiterate the lesson as well as still feeling involved on a daily basis,” said Chef Deb. " For me, it’s about connecting with the kids. If they’re not engaged and connected, then they’re not learning and they’re not having fun.”
Hladky is the first to admit that it is much easier to keep students engaged in person since they have the proper culinary tools and ingredients at their fingertips.
“It’s more difficult than ever to get every student learning,” she said. “Some students can’t cook at home so I have to create alternate lessons to meet the instructional needs of every student.”
As for the recipe for that perfect lesson?
“Some weeks it’s great, and some weeks it’s not—so I have to be flexible,” she said. “But we (teachers) do it because we love the kids and love what we do.”