Southern Alamance High School teacher uses GoPro during carpentry class

What's Right with Our Schools

BURLINGTON, N.C. — For high school students who rely on hands on learning to gain skills for a trade, virtual learning has brought on many challenges.

But one carpentry teacher in Alamance County is getting creative so his students can at least feel like they are in class when they can’t be.

Randy Faulkner teaches carpentry at Southern Alamance High School. For years, his classes have learned by doing. They’ve built playhouses and outbuildings, and a “she shed” was started by the students before the pandemic hit. 

“To me, that’s what the class is about is all hands on. That’s what’s so hard now. They’re missing that ability to be here and work with their hands,” Faulkner said.

So he decided to do what he says is the closest thing he can. With the help of his principal, he bought a GoPro video recorder and started taping himself going through all the steps the students would learn in class if they were there in person.

“So the kids could actually see me do the work and make it a little more fun than just sitting there showing pictures on the computer,” he said. “All my kids are hands on. They got touch and feel and do it for themselves. We say we don’t learn to build. We build to learn…we’ll do it in the shop, nd then we’ll go to the book. And we pick out the piece. And that way, you’ve already seen it. You felt it, and you know what you’re doing.”

The hard part is not having anyone in the shop to help him, but he has come up with some homemade fixes for that.

The students are learning real life lessons both intended and unintended.

While there is no textbook on how to teach Career and Technical classes like this during the pandemic, Faulkner says the GoPro has helped him to demonstrate to his students how things are done.

But he admits he can’t wait until he has students back in class, and his carpentry shop is busy once again.

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