By Jack Abells
Graphic By Jackie Veliz
Over a year ago, the campus closed and school continued remotely. Only now, during the final quarter of the 2020-2021 school year, have some students returned to campus. The past year alone has easily been one of the most turbulent times for teachers and students. This has especially been difficult for classes built around hands-on work and specific materials. The Foods courses in particular have been impacted by this change to remote. The classes are intended to teach students how to cook, but without being in the school kitchens, and possibly without the proper materials, students have been put at a disadvantage. Now that some students are able to go back to campus for the course, how has that changed?
Jill McTaggart, one of the Foods teachers, explained to The Page how, even from the beginning of distance learning, students without materials have been accommodated. “One year ago, we had students make one dish a week or a homework assignment. There was always an alternate assignment that could be accomplished and submitted through Google Classroom,” said McTaggart, “Classes were not mandatory, so it was a very hard time to not be in direct contact with students.”
Though distance learning may not be the ideal way for this class to be taught, junior Wolf Marsh still feels as if he has adequately learned cooking skills this year. “Foods class often makes use of online recipes to teach students to cook, and because the recipes are designed to be read from home on a computer, they are very good at teaching students to cook without the presence of an instructor,” said Marsh. This is his first year taking the class, though his teacher is not McTaggart. “We ran our classes by introducing a cooking skill and then I did a cooking demo live or on a video. Then students were to practice that skill to the best of their ability,” said McTaggart about distance learning earlier this year. “If students were not able to get the ingredients we accepted a dish with ingredients that they had on hand. That being said, students did wonderfully.”
For hybrid, McTaggart still does demos, in addition to research projects. “To be honest it was a rough start. My Zoomers felt like I wasn’t paying enough attention to them. But I am lucky that students feel comfortable giving me direct feedback and I feel I am doing a better job with both groups. Although it is like trying to juggle while swimming,” said McTaggart. For Marsh, he opted to stay remote during hybrid. “During hybrid, in the first half of class we have Zoom lessons, which often involve watching informational videos and reading presentations. In the second half, it’s most common for Ms. Tate to let students who are distant learning go early, either to cook or do classwork by themselves, while the students in class stay until the class period ends.”
Despite the odds being stacked against all classes, the Foods classes have adapted well under the circumstances. Although in-person classes are the ideal way for Foods to be taught, McTaggart acknowledges how that may not be an option for everyone. “I think that if it is possible to be in person at school that is much better. But I empathize for all the students that would like to be back but cannot because of health or other reasons.” She continued, “I became a teacher to build connections with students and to give them a safe place to learn. It is hard to not have that in-person contact with most of my students. But I love being with the students that are here, and I hope that the Zoomers had a good enough experience under these terrible circumstances.”