16 Nov 2021

Experts offer Zoom classes to help teachers needing extra support

6:30 am on 16 November 2021

New Zealanders from different areas of expertise are offering online Zoom classes for school students whose teachers are in need of extra support as the school vaccine mandate comes into effect.

Auckland Grammar School trials home-based learning.

(File image) Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

From today, unvaccinated teachers will not be allowed to return to the classrooms, and principals can call police if they do.

It is unclear how many of those in a teaching environment will be barred from school grounds, but numerous experts on Twitter have been offering to fill potential gaps by hosting online Zoom classes.

The concept was the brainchild of Orokonui Ecosanctuary educator Taylor Davies-Colley.

"I was sitting at home on the couch and my partner was on a call to her cousin, who's a teacher, and he was saying that they were quite worried come tomorrow who was going to be at work and who wasn't.

"How it would be those people who turned up to work, who have done the right thing by getting themselves vaccinated to protect the kids that they work with, that would have to pick up the slack and fill in for all these people who would no longer be there."

And so on Sunday night, Taylor sent this tweet;

In the past 24 hours, the tweet has been liked by more than 1200 users.

Others started following suit; offering their time and expertise on topics ranging from native wildlife to Egyptian archaeology.

University of Auckland head of physics professor Richard Easther saw Taylor's tweet and wanted to help.

"I work in astrophysics, the beginning of the universe, dark matter, black holes, so I can do anything in that space," prof Easther said.

"I also offered to do some sessions for students that are facing exams in physics or maths coming up, because I know that a lot of students will be focused on their NCEA requirements, so I'm happy to help out with that.

"It's become a bit of a cliché but we are all in this together... If there's anything we can do right now, I'm more than happy to help out and I love talking about what I love with people."

Manaaki Landcare research wildlife ecologist Andrew Veale offered to share his special interest knowledge of stoats.

"It's very hard for teachers right now. Right now I'm a research scientist, but I'm stuck at home and therefore I can potentially help someone, and obviously I support vaccination and also just learning science. It's really fun teaching as well."

Even Kaipara deputy mayor Anna Curnow offered to teach an online class on local government and civics.

"This is a time of great stress for schools and this is a way for people to offer their support. I really liked that sense of 'we understand the stress and we can bring what we can, use it if it helps' and for me that just happens to be local government."

So far Taylor Davies-Colley has had three teachers contact him to arrange Zoom classes.

"I think one of the things that blew me away the most is just how many other people are offering up their time. What's amazing is that there's so many people who are renowned experts in their field offering their time."

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