Sunday, June 13, 2021

Instructors for virtual class visit in person

Staff Writer | June 3, 2021 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — Four industry-based instructors visited the Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center on May 24, and video game programming student Logan Beck remarked on the change in perspective – from virtual to in-person learning for the first time this school year.

It turned out the software engineers providing instruction through the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program actually were taller than he expected, he said.

Instructor Robert Taylor agreed.

“You mean we’re not trapped in a little square?” Taylor said.

The TEALS program is sponsored by Microsoft Philanthropies and provides instruction from industry professionals to schools far away from the Puget Sound. Students get AP credit for the TEALS class if they pass the required exam.

Instructor Darrel Quick said in a normal year the instructors visit the students once or twice, but the 2020-21 school year was anything but normal. This was the first visit of the TEALS team to Moses Lake.

The visit at 900 Yonezawa Blvd. was a chance for teachers and students who have been working together for nine months to see each other in real life, and the instructors got a tour of every class at the skills center.

But the instructors wanted more from the visit than that. They asked the kids about the virtual instruction, what worked and what didn’t, where things ran smoothly and where improvements could be made.

“Don’t be afraid to hurt my feelings,” said instructor Chris Chen.

“I definitely want things to improve on,” Taylor said.

Students had some suggestions for subjects that deserved more attention and others that deserved a little less. The instructors and students also discussed what techniques worked and which ones didn’t.

Maya Armacost-Felton said she liked the ability to collaborate with fellow students. It’s harder to work through a difficult project when she’s on her own, she said.

But, Taylor said, one goal of the class is to give students the tools necessary to work through problems on their own, since the AP test does not allow for collaboration. But, he added while it’s important to know how to work through problems alone, it’s very rare in the industry for programmers to work on a project alone. Usually there’s some level of collaboration, Quick said, partly as quality control and partly to make sure everyone has a clear idea of the project.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached at