Well..what a way to end my first term at Waitetuna School, going into level 4 lockdown. Working from home in Te Awamutu has had it’s challenges but the staff and community of Waitetuna School have all stepped up in so many different ways to make our community response a credit to everyone in this amazing valley. The teaching staff already had Google classroom and Seesaw set up to share learning, activities and ideas so the transition for many was fairly smooth. We also have a closed school Facebook page which we are using in many ways to share all aspects of home learning from preserving to hut building. The internet connectivity in our rural community, of course brought its own challenges, something we have made the Ministry of Education very aware of.
We have had Google Meets and/or Zoom sessions so that all the classes can connect as a whole and then in groups. We have worked to get devices out to students that need them. This has been a great chance for parents to connect online with their children and be a part of their learning to a whole new level. There are lots of free quality resources released to help teachers and innovative ways to learn, which we have continued to share. The excellent Education TV programmes and documentaries are certainly worthwhile – parents have commented how children are watching them and then asking questions and googling answers…great inquiry. It has been a golden opportunity for many children during this time who work really well with this style of learning, is having a huge variety of learning tasks to choose from and a real sense of ownership around what they can choose to learn about, which allows them to follow their own areas of interest and be engaged in lots of doing and making type learning activities. We have also noticed the relationship building, collaboration and co-operation going on in family bubbles. There are definitely some silver linings to this Covid-19 situation.
In our community there have been some fun, social isolation activities during lockdown. This included a Post Box decoration competition for Easter, a follow on from the Teddy Bears in Windows initiative, but because of the rural nature of our commnuity, we can see letterboxes but not many lounge windows of our neighbours. Now for ANZAC there is a similar community initiative making wreaths and poppies or displays in all shapes and forms. The Waitetuna Community have also been exchanging seeds and produce from gardens, orchards and chickens, while observing safe distancing of course. There is a great deal of kindness and caring going on between neighbours, making sure that every family has enough food to get through this challenging time and of course the support of Raglan Food Bank and Four Square has been so appreciated. The benefits of a small and close knit rural school and community has really come into play during the covid-19 Level 4 lockdown.
Written by Amanda Nasilasila and staff