Creating Community in times of adversity

Genae Thompson is a teacher of Te Reo Māori at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton.  At the beginning of the lockdown for Covid-19, Genae created a Facebook page and uploaded a few videos. It is called Digital Teaching Te Reo Maori  and is a public group and open to all teachers.  Since then she has added a video a day and her page has grown to over 1500 members, many of whom have been become contributors and collaborators. Genae says, “I felt aroha for those teachers who had less technical knowledge and had very little time to prepare. I thought that if I shared what I had already developed with others, then this would ease some of the stress on teachers at what was already a stressful time.”

She has received a huge amount of positive feedback from teachers and the members of her page are located throughout Aotearoa.  As she says, “It was awesome to see teachers step out of their comfort zones to try and meet the needs of their students.”  Developing the sense of community amongst Te Reo teachers, where everyone supports each other, shares tips and tricks and breaks down the feeling of isolation has been a bonus in these difficult times.

Her school was very supportive of the move, providing a lot of digital support and encouragement to embrace the challenges and changes when moving to an online platform. Genae says her students had little difficulty adapting to the online environment although they are missing the face to face interaction.

Her advice to teachers is to “lean on the support of others.  Ask the questions.  Ask for help.  If you have the knowledge or resources to share, then share them.  Collaboration helps support the students and makes their learning experiences better, so why not apply that to not just your students in front of you, but to all of them.”

Her best find?  “Nearpod has probably been my best find as there are so many ways to create interactive activities for students and it is really user friendly.”

Check out Genae’s work here

Article written by Stephanie Mortimore, Facilitator - Centre for Languages