By Makenzie Walsh
Distance learning has forced students and teachers alike to adapt to an unknown and challenging situation. Many classes at Ukiah High require hands-on learning that proves difficult to reproduce in a distanced world. Sara Friedmann, one of Ukiah’s Highs Floral Design teachers, told us about the challenges and successes of teaching students how to design beautiful bouquets at a distance.
Friedmann said she was inspired to teach Floral Design from taking the class herself, saying, “The teacher, Mrs. Fletcher, was and still is a floral genius!” She remembered how her teacher had worked hard to get her students excited about the process and helped cultivate their skills. Friedmann looked forward to the class and the people in it each day and said Mrs. Fletcher was and continues to be an inspiration to her.
She finds teaching through a screen more difficult than in person. “As an educator,” she states, “we rely on physical space and body language to gauge a student’s understanding. We use hands-on learning to ignite excitement and to develop their skills.”
However, despite these losses, she notes how creativity had not disappeared. She described going online has morphed Floral Design from hands-on to theory and digital creativity. Friedmann says that “The amount of enthusiasm and detail on virtual designs and projects related to all aspects of the industry is a sight to see” and mentions field trips via Zoom has been fun and an excellent way to engage students.
In all, the elective had changed drastically due to distance learning, but Friedmann has used her creativity to keep the course engaging. Friedmann shows that the new routine can be adapted to. Fundamentally, Friedmann celebrates seeing her students log in and participate, almost as if they were walking through the doors to their classrooms.