Beauty Link - Volume 5, Issue 3 - (Page 57)
WHEN TEACHING DRY SUBJECTS, IT’S
ESSENTIAL TO GET STUDENTS ENGAGED
BY NICK GUSTAV
f John Halal hadn’t become a beauty school educator, he
might have found his niche as a magician.
Halal, director of education for the Tricoci University
of Beauty Culture, uses all kinds of visual aids to keep his
students’ attention, especially when teaching dry subjects
such as electricity, chemistry, anatomy and how to sell
“The more visual aids we use in the classroom, the more the
student is going to learn,” Halal said. “Pictures are good, color
pictures are better, three-dimensional images are better yet,
and moving images are best. Our minds are wired to detect
When teaching students about pH, for example, Halal puts clear
neutralizing shampoo in a beaker, then adds an alkaline substance
that turns it bright purple. When an acidic additive is introduced,
the solution turns clear again. “They gasp when they see that, and
then they applaud,” Halal said. “I’ve had students tell me, ‘This is
like a little magic show.’”
Halal takes the same approach when teaching about emulsions.
He puts oil and water in a jar to prove the cliché that oil and water
don’t mix, but when he adds dish soap, the surfactant creates an
emulsion. When teaching surface tension, he carefully lowers a
paperclip onto the surface of a bowl of water and shows students
that it can float. Then he adds dish soap, and the surfactant breaks
the surface tension and makes the paperclip sink.
For a lesson in electricity, Halal has removed the outer shell of
a hair dryer and mounted the rest to a wooden board so students
can see how it works.
“Students need to be surprised,” he said. “They can’t know
what’s coming next.”
Rich Hansberger, vice president of curriculum and business
development for Nuts and Bolts Training Co., a business and
personal-development training company for the health and beauty
industry, said his company’s approach to teaching involves three
steps: reflect, engage and perform.
In the “reflect” step, the teacher clearly states what her students
will learn during the lesson. Hansberger encourages teachers to
write these objectives on the chalkboard and to limit them to
three items to keep students focused.
“You’ll be amazed: Even if you’re teaching the driest subject
matter in the world, most people will perk up when they hear that
they’re going to learn something specific,” Hansberger said. “It’s
human nature to be curious.”
The next step is to get students engaged in the material instead
of just listening to a lecture. Hansberger recommended that beautyschool instructors keep the book Active Learning: 101 Strategies
to Teach Any Subject, by Mel Silberman, handy because it offers
numerous ideas for short activities that get students actively
involved in the learning process.
As an example, he said that an instructor teaching electricity
could divide the class into two groups for a short debate about the
120-volt standard in the United States and the 240-volt standard
in Europe, discussing the pros and cons of each and which is
preferable. And when teaching students how to sell retail items,
an obvious activity is to have students practice their sales pitch
on each other through role play.
“Creating an activity that is fun and engaging does take some
creativity, but we’ve found that cosmetology instructors are creative people,” Hansberger said.
In the “perform” step, an instructor tests what his students
have learned, but not necessarily with a graded quiz. Instead, he
recommended giving students a multiple-choice test with as few
as five questions. After students complete it, the instructor can
go over each question with the group, asking them to raise their
hands when the answer they selected is called out.
Since no one is being singled out for an answer, students can
have more confidence participating in discussion, even when the
topic is complicated and foreign to them. More important, the
instructor can better gauge if the class has learned the material
and is ready to move on.
“There’s no secret sauce when it comes to teaching dry subjects,” Hansberger said. “It really comes down to good classroom management and having a plan so that
at every stage of the class, your students are
Nick Gustav is a freelance writer and editor living
on the East Coast.
The course ED111 – Active Learning Methods is available on the AACS Online Training Center at www.
aacstraining.org. Members call AACS at 800-831-1086 for your VIP Discount Code. Visit the following
URL to learn more about this course: http://bit.ly/CreativeTeaching.
BE AUT YLIN K | T AK I NG CARE O F BUSI N E S S | 20 1 3 |
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Beauty Link - Volume 5, Issue 3
Message from the AACS President and CEA CO-Chairs
The Workings of Washington
Celebrate the Power of Educators
The Legacy of Madam Walker
Outside the Beauty Box
Part Art, Part Science
Beauty School Malpractice Liability Insurance
Leverage what Makes Your School Diff erent
Help Your Students Shine
Small Business Impacts
Voices from the Classroom
The Best in Business
Step by Step
How to Improve the Process
A Student’s Perspective
With a Little Help from Her Friends
Motivating Your Students
Beauty Changes Lives
2013 Spring Operations Conference
People & Places
New Products & Services
Associate Member Profiles
New School Members
Upcoming 2013-14 Events
Index to Advertisers
Beauty Link - Volume 5, Issue 3