Western Alamance High School teacher updates her usually-hands-on classes to remote learning

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ELON, N.C. — The room around her is empty. Past projects fill the shelves, reminders of when Emily Carter’s interior design students were in class and the learning was always hands-on.

“Career and technical education is the umbrella over interior design and foods and agriculture,” Carter said. “And so when they’re here, they’re the ones doing all the hands-on work and work facilitating it, but since they’re at home, we are doing the hands-on work and they’re watching us do it. And they’re able to do a little bit at home, but not as much as usual.”

She teaches at Western Alamance High School, and she says she is adjusting to teaching remotely. But she admits, CTE is different in that so much of what students learn they learn by doing. 

“When they come through as eighth graders, that’s my big thing is we go on field trips and I teach you how to sew and we learned about textiles,” Carter said. “They don’t get to do that, and so they’re like, ‘Ms. Carter, I really wish I was there and that we could do the hands-on stuff.'”

One of her favorite lessons is on textiles where she gets to demonstrate how nylon is made. But with remote learning, she is having to do things differently. 

“It’s something I would normally do in class anyway, but filming myself, doing it over Zoom is definitely different, and doing it with the document camera and with Zoom is definitely different than anything I’ve done before,” Carter said. “They definitely get tired of hearing me talk and go over PowerPoints and things like that. And so I hope it does help keep them engaged and interested in what we’re talking about. And hopefully it helps them remember in the future what we talked about and maybe even interest them in a career later on that involves interior design or even the chemistry side, which is what we’re talking about today.”

While she can’t wait to have an active classroom and see her students face to face again, Carter says she will do everything she can to keep them happy and learning until then.

“That’s the hope is that we keep them engaged and keep it as realistic as possible as if they were right in front of us,” she said.

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