I never thought I’d be teaching beauty therapy from my own living room. When it became clear that college life wouldn’t be able to carry on as normal due to the coronavirus outbreak, I was forced to think outside the box in terms of lesson delivery.
In beauty therapy, we are touchy-feely types. All of our practical work involves treating others, whether it’s giving them a massage, a manicure or a facial: doing this remotely was always going to be something completely different for us.
We had already set up Facebook groups for different cohorts of students so I knew I’d be able to contact them all and post videos and pictures regularly.
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But with so much of the course left to teach, just posting content wasn’t going to be enough – and I decided I’d deliver some live lessons.
As a college, we were already using Microsoft Teams, but that only allowed for four people in each digital meeting, and so I moved across to Zoom to ensure the whole class could join in.
The lessons work like this:
- I pre-record all of the live lessons I do the day before to make sure that if a student can’t join along live (for example one of my students is a nurse), they can catch up later.
- I send a message with all the equipment they will need for the live lesson and what time it will be at. I ask them to set aside a whole hour as it can take a bit of time for everyone to connect and be ready to learn.
- I send around the Zoom link before the lesson starts and find a piece of spa music to play in the background of the video. In the college salons we always have spa music playing, so keeping this element the same for students puts them at ease straight away.
- Once everyone has joined, I do 10 minutes of a lesson, then have a break for questions and discussion, then seven minutes of a lesson, then another break and then a two minute summary.
- If it’s a drawing, like in the video below, I ask them to sign the picture and send it across to me so I can mark it. If they are modelling it on themselves, I ask them to take pictures of their make-up, lashes or nails afterwards and send to me.
- After each lesson, I contact each learner individually to catch up and see if they’ve got any questions. Some are a bit shy when it comes to asking questions over Zoom – the same ones who are shy when it comes to asking questions in class – and this gives them a chance to ask me one-to-one.
The live lesson: part one
The live lesson: part two
The live lesson: part three
Whether I’ll be drawing or using myself as a model in the lessons depends on the skill we are using. As we can’t use models like we normally would in a classroom environment, we will all be our own models. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to deliver live lessons in make-up application, eye enhancement (eyelash extensions, eyelash tints and eyebrow tints), facials and nail treatments.
After the first make-up session, they were all sending me videos of their set up, with all their tools and equipment because they are so proud of themselves, and I’m really proud of them too. I did think it could go one way or another, that they would just completely panic or just not engage but they are very focused.
Some skills require another person to practise on, for example massage and waxing. I already have pre-recorded demos – which I did earlier in the year in the college – in all skills available on Moodle for them.
At the moment we are just taking each week as it comes. This way of learning is completely different to what we are used to. Although the learners are benefitting slightly in learning how to do these skills on themselves. Sometimes as a therapist you forget how to do it on yourself when you’re always treating others, and it is different doing your own. They will all have perfect skin, long lashes and beautiful nails even when in lockdown!
The theory work is carrying on as normal, they didn’t enjoy theory much when doing it in class, but I’m trying to keep them motivated from home. I’ve been posting stress-relief tips for them on Twitter and on Facebook, and each week we are completing a different growth mindset task. This week, each day they have to say one thing they are grateful for. That sort of thing keeps them positive and engaged.
I don’t think any of this would work as well if I didn’t already know them all really well and have good relationships with them. Like I said, we are taking each week as it comes, and hopefully we will all be back together in the classroom soon.
Michelle Howie is a beauty therapy lecturer at Ayrshire College