Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Ida McLean. Ida is a cosmetology educator who has been in the industry for over 20 years. She currently works as the Director of Education for Searcy Beauty College in Searcy, Arkansas. As the Director of Education she is dedicated to teaching theory and helping students be successful in passing their written exam and understanding the why behind what they do. Additionally, Ida works with Milady as a Master Educator, delivering continuing education to instructors all over the country.
Lisha Barnes: How did you get into education?
Ida McLean: I was working in the salon and I loved the salon – I loved the industry, but sometimes life changes force you into a new direction and that is how I found myself teaching. In the beginning it was hard and challenging and I didn’t think I’d ever get good at it, but I kept after it and eventually I got better and then I began to see the rewards. I mean we get to change people’s lives and when I figured that out, that is when I became passionate about it.
LB: How has education changed since you started?
IM: Technology! It has changed in a big way. When I started, we had chalk boards and overhead projectors. Our handouts were hand written. Today we have PowerPoints, the internet, computers, and on and on…
LB: So, speaking of technology, how do you incorporate it into your classroom?
IM: Obviously we use PowerPoints. Learners learn in so many ways. Some are visual, some are bodily kinesthetic, and some are verbal, etc. – when you are planning your classes you have to look for ways to engage your students. PowerPoints are just one way to do that. They are visual, with color and images, they have words for the verbal learner, and there is a certain rhythm that occurs with a PowerPoint that is even engaging to the Musical/Rhythmic learner. PowerPoints are an easy way to engage a lot of learners just by having them follow along with you.
And speaking of PowerPoints, I’m really excited that we just incorporated an Apple TV. I love it. I can have my PowerPoint pulled up on my tablet and it shows up on the TV. This frees me up from cables and projectors. I get to walk around the classroom and still have access to my lesson plan.
Our school is currently considering incorporating iPads and Milady’s MindTap. We want to go digital because that is who is in our classrooms. Our students have grown up using computers in the classroom and then they come into our school and we don’t have it, it doesn’t feel natural. We want our students to have the most current information available at their fingertips. By using MindTap students will be able to turn in assignments and tests from their tablet. It is going to make life easier on us educators and we are going to save a tree or two by cutting down on the handouts we pass out in class.
LB: That is awesome. What do you think of cell phones in the classroom?
IM: I use to think cell phones were the devil. I hated them!! And then I caved and crossed over to the dark side. And that is when I figured it out and I saw how amazing they could be. I have found fun ways to allow the students to use their cell phones. We recently were in hairstyling… I had each student search and find an updo picture they liked. We then diagramed the updo and the students created it on their mannequin heads. When I quit fighting them on it and incorporated it into learning, it became a non-issue. Of course I still have a student or two who might try to text during class, but honestly that is a behavioral issue. It is no different than a student talking in class or sleeping in class and I handle inappropriate cell phone use the same way.
LB: Earlier you eluded to the variety of leaners in our classrooms. Aside from the use of technology, what else do you do to engage your students?
IM: I always open class with an attention getter. If a student isn’t excited about a topic in the first 3 minutes of class you’re not going to get them engaged for the remaining 57 minutes. Start class with a great question or fact – something that will grab them right off the bat. Whatever topic you are teaching you can find a video, picture, statement – something that will get them interested in the topic.
I like to incorporate at least 3 activities in every 1 hour of theory. They don’t have to be long – mine are usually between 2 and 5 minutes. And they don’t have to be big productions. Something as simple as having everyone grab a post-it note and writing down one thing that has stood out to them so far. Then have them share it with their group and hold a quick discussion on what they are getting. The best part about an activity like that is that you are really just reviewing the material and keeping them engaged.
LB: One final question for you Ida. What advice would you give to a new educator?
IM: I’d tell them that being an educator is one of the most rewarding things and yet one of the most challenging things you will ever do. You are dedicating yourself to someone else’s success. That is an awesome responsibility.