GLOBAL BEAUTY AND BARBER INSTITUTE

From the Chair to the Black Board

An Educational blog for beauty and barber industry educators

An ongoing series of teaching methodologies and informational entries that will assist educators in the beauty and barber industry with creating an environment conducive to learning, while promoting engaging, communicative, and didactic education outcomes within the classroom for adult learners. 

Establishing the Foundation 

February 23, 2020

I remember the first time that I knew I wanted to teach. I knew I wanted to teach the moment my teacher walked into my cosmetology classroom during the first day of orientation. She was exciting, out going, and so full of information. I said immediately, "I am going to do what she is doing!" Little did I know that teaching looked much easier than it actually was. I knew that I enjoyed performing hair services. So I thought initially that educating someone on performing hair services would be easy. There are so many layers to teaching and being a great teacher. It is one thing to house information, but it is another to have the ability to convey the information to someone else, effectively. The ability to connect with individuals through education, energy, and understanding is a talent that few possess. Great educators are few and far in between and are extraordinary people who possess way more skills outside of being an educator. Educators have a greater purpose and posses intense tools that allows them to reach others on levels beyond education and the surface. Great educators shed light on dark situations, give hope to the hopeless, encourages and assists in restoring faith where faith has otherwise been lost. Although, education is thought of in theory and practical aspects, true and great educators know that all areas of one's life plays a huge part in whether a student can accept, partake, and understand information in which is being conveyed. 


As a current or future educator, the classroom will be your office, your laboratory, the place where you accomplish the goals for which you went into education. Your classroom says a lot about you and affects your students in seen and unseen ways. Your classroom environment affects students’ ability to learn and to feel comfortable in the classroom. There are many things to consider when it comes to creating, fostering, and/or maintaining an appropriate classroom environment. What do you want the space to look and feel like? Even if you are coming into an existing classroom space, you have the opportunity to nurture an environment where all students feel comfortable and where they are able to learn and give their best. As a beauty  and/or barber industry professional, order in the classroom is even more important than in other industries because you are modeling what an acceptable salon, or other industry space, looks like. As a current or future educator to beauty industry professionals, you need to first determine what your goals are for your classroom and your students.


Once you have determined what your goals are, you can begin establishing an environment that is conducive to your goals. There are many goals that should be foremost in your mind as you craft your classroom environment. These include physical aspects, such as cleanliness, order, and attractiveness (maintaining a clean space is critical in the beauty industry, as there are strict laws and standards for sanitation that have to be maintained). Non-physical aspects, such as feelings of welcome, warmth, and an environment that is overall conducive to learning are also as important. Consequently, your classroom should mirror these standards.


According to the University of Michigan, there is an “essential question” that you as an educator should ask yourself when it comes to creating a positive classroom environment: “How have you fostered the creation and advancement of an engaging learning community and effective learning environment?” Unlike a school classroom, the physical environment of a classroom for future beauty and barber professionals will not have many decorations. Decorations are used to personalize a space and to represent the identities of the students. However, there are ways for students to feel “at home” even in a beauty and barber industry space. These include students having their own areas, tools, name tags, and more. The non-physical aspects are often more critical than the physical aspects when it comes to fostering an effective environment in a beauty and barber industry classroom since you are working mostly with adults. Therefore, you as the instructor are primarily responsible for the environment in the classroom.


We will discuss classroom dynamics later on. However, a note to remember is that you as the instructor will set the tone for the classroom. According to the Queensland Department of Education, “A warm, safe, and caring environment allows students to influence the nature of the activities they undertake, engage seriously in their study, regulate their behavior, and know of the explicit criteria and high expectations of what they are to achieve.” As the instructor, you are responsible for creating an environment where all students feel cared for, encouraged, and have clear expectations for what they are to achieve. One way to do this is to set expectations early and refer to them as often as needed in order to maintain the classroom atmosphere.


There are many ways to do this that are interactive and create buy-in and a sense of ownership among everyone. One of the most successful strategies when it comes to establishing classroom standards with adult learners is creating an educator-learner agreement, which is a contract that you draft in partnership with your students on agreed-upon standards of behavior, classroom engagement, and standard policies/procedures related to things such as late work, participation, and more. If your desire is to create a more formal environment, you could create these expectations on your own and include it in the syllabus as a “classroom contract” that everyone signs. You could choose to have a pre-designed agreement that you go over upon your students’ arrival and then have them sign it. This can be the syllabus itself or a separate document. The benefits of this approach are that you do not have to take up instruction time crafting the agreement and you can go into more depth regarding the points on the agreement. Also with this approach, you avoid the risk that your students (who have not yet warmed up to their fellow students or you the instructor) do not participate in the creation process, leaving you to create it on your own anyway.


The other option is that you can spend the first or second class session coming up with points together as a class. This approach works well when you have an engaged group that is not too large. In smaller groups, everyone is likely to get their points addressed and to be included in the contract drafting process. One of the cons of this approach is that you are not likely to get very deep responses. For example, when asking for things that your students believe should be included in the contract, you may get responses such as, “Respect” and “Keep it Real”. While valuable, these responses are vague and do not lead to the creation of concrete learning outcomes. If you do decide to take this approach and receive such responses, you can go back and parse these out more in a formal document. This ensures that the students still get a say, yet you have the opportunity to supplement more superficial ideas with concrete expectations. The main benefit of this approach is that a collective sense of responsibility is created when students have the opportunity to contribute. Either way, an educator-learner agreement is a great way to hold students accountable. There are times when such contracts need to be revisited, either one-on-one or as a group, to re-center the learning process, get back on track, or motivate the students.


“Educational research supports creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and support in the classroom, where students feel safe in expressing concerns or asking questions, and where tolerance and a sense of common identity and community are promoted.” As the instructor, your students will look to you as the source of security when it comes to taking the risks that are inherent in the learning process, such as asking questions in front of peers, practicing the relevant beauty and barber techniques, forming relationships with other students in the class, and more. The sense of community—of family—you create among your students will positively impact learning outcomes and enable them to do the same once they go out into the field.


According to Wilen et al., (2004), part of building a supportive climate for learning involves teachers sharing their expectations concerning learning of content, achievement, and social behavior with their students. “We need to teach students positive behaviors in a thorough, consistent, systematic way; we cannot assume that students just know them.” As an educator to aspiring beauty and barber industry professionals, you will be working primarily with adults. This generally means that you do not have to provide the same level of support to your students and that they are more or less autonomous when it comes to directing the course of their educational experiences. Adult learners are generally more engaged as well. This translates into less behavior modification on your behalf. Once you have established the expectations as a group, referencing this contract should be enough to maintain a positive classroom environment. An internet search will yield many examples of learning contracts and even templates that you can use to craft your own based on the needs of your classroom. Play around with this until you’ve created one that speaks to the environment you are trying to create in your classroom. Remember, the sky is the limit! Encourage all of your students to reach for it and break the glass ceiling!


  Until next week,

-Ms. Gordon Speaks