Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland teacher's Learning Mole homework project racks up 1m online views

Michelle Connolly with son James (6)
Michelle Connolly with son James (6)
Michelle Connolly with her son Aaron (7)
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

A Co Antrim primary school teacher has become a YouTube sensation as she helps parents around the world get to grips with homework.

Michelle Connolly (37) has racked up a million views online with the Learning Mole project she set up 18 months ago after her two children - Aaron (7) and James (6) - had just embarked on their own school journey.

"The feedback has been fantastic. So many parents now have the confidence to sit down and help their children rather than just throw the homework at them and leave the room," she said.

After 15 years in a conventional classroom, Mrs Connolly, who still subs part-time, decided to focus on developing a resource for frustrated parents left stumped by the modern and constantly-evolving curriculum.

"I have always been asked how to teach topics by confused parents, not because they are stupid, but because techniques have changed so much over the years, they really want to help, but don't know how," she said.

The innovator praised the efforts made by some schools, which seek to help parents navigate their way through the minefield of homework, but said they often lack adequate resources.

"I started making videos to explain the concepts behind topics on the syllabus; phonics and maths has proved to cause the biggest problems," she added.

The mum-of-three launched a website after converting a spare room in her Glengormley home into a mini production studio - kitted out with lighting and white boards - and enlisted the help of an animator to produce creative content for YouTube and other social media platforms.

Following the arrival of daughter Olivia, now 18 months, she has relocated to the garage.

"The main expense was the camera equipment, everything else was relatively cheap," she said.

So far her 210 online clips, which harness everyday objects and range from two to 20 minutes, have been viewed by one million parents and teachers in 166 countries.

The videos are most popular in the UK and the US, but Michelle believes she has only tapped the surface of their full potential.

"There is a real thirst for knowledge out there among parents and the internet allows me to reach them," she added.

"This wouldn't have grown so organically otherwise.

"It's so important to involve yourself in your child's education and it's not as scary as you would think.

"It can actually be really fun."

Belfast Telegraph


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