Huntly kaiako making distance learning work

By Mahina Hurkmans

This week the Government rolled out its nationwide distance learning programme for school kids. One kaiako from Te Wharekura o Rākaumangamanga in Huntly explains how she is juggling delivering distance learning with over 100 students, as well as catering to her son's learning needs at home.

Kaiako Cherie Hine-Puaawai Brooks says, “If we return or if we stay home, we will prepare for both circumstances."

Computers, laptops, tablets and the internet are essential for Te Wharekura o Rākaumangamanga to achieve their mission. These tools enable students and teachers to stay connected during the lockdown.

Brooks explains how she uses this technology to teach her pupils.

“I have created a classroom on Google for my students where I post videos with instructions for the work I have set out for the students. I have also set aside a time where they can ask questions.

“But the work doesn't end as some of our students are more active after 5pm. So, as I am cooking dinner I am trying to respond to those students.”

Brooks acknowledges the learning curve involved with utilising these tools. But she says, the enthusiasm of her students makes it easier.

While helping these students learn, she also cares for her son who has his own needs.

“It can be difficult for me because my son has a different method of learning as we have not long found out that he is dyslexic. So I am also learning new ways of how to help him with his work. I am unable to leave him on his own to do his work but must sit there with him.”

“The difficulty is wearing the hat of a mother and a teacher at the same time. As I must teach my own son and I have 150 other students to teach online, so I set the morning aside for my son and the afternoon for my students.”

Brooks admits that sometimes, she does get flustered. She says that she thought the kids wouldn’t want to do any school work. That couldn’t further be from the truth.

“We have told our students not to worry and to complete the work they know must be completed. When we are back at school, we, the teachers will arrange weekend wānanga to help with the rest so they are not distressed by the work.”

Helping Year 13 students excel in their last year of school, remains a high priority for the wharekura.