Published Date: 08/05/20
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With the start of school around the corner for many across the country, pandemic pods, microschools, and homeschool pods are being established by the minute. Pandemic pods act as a supplement to a child’s private school or public school distance learning while microschools and homeschools act as a replacement.
Within microschools and homeschool pods, objectives and expectations are fairly clear for both the families involved and the educators. Within a pandemic pod where a school is providing distance learning and the pod acts as support to that, the purpose and expectations must be more clearly defined to ensure success. There are several keys to successful pandemic pods that you should keep in mind when establishing or joining one.
Keys to a successful pandemic pod
Finding the right families for your pandemic pod
Connecting with the right families is the first key to a successful pandemic pod. If you’ve established the pod, you need to cast a wide net interview many families before accepting people into it. You can start by posting your pod and searching for other families on Paper Pinecone.
Next, use our free questionnaire to determine which families may be a good fit. For example, if you’re hosting a pandemic pod and you have a dog, including a child who is highly allergic or terrified of dogs might cause problems.
If you’re searching for a pod, you should contact and speak with many families before agreeing to join. A pandemic pod is a commitment and getting out of one may be more difficult than getting into one.
Most importantly, you should be carefully considering your family’s behavior and the behavior of other families within your pod to determine your comfort level with different situations. More on this below.
If possible, you’re much better off waiting to join a pandemic pod until after school starts than joining one hastily and having it be a bad situation.
The wrong pandemic pod is worse than no pandemic pod and while there’s a sense of urgency to get both childcare and academic support for your child, do not join one in a panic. Carefully consider all aspects before making any formal agreements.
Setting expectations for the tutor or pod leader’s role in your pandemic pod
Setting clearly defined expectations is the second key to a successful pandemic pod. Each family in the pandemic pod should have the same goals. For example, families and tutors should be aligned on exactly what support a tutor or pod leader is providing. Are they simply overseeing the work and making sure it’s completed? Are they providing supplemental curriculum? How much individual time will each child receive? “Until they understand the concept” may not work if several children are struggling or of one child is having significant difficulty in a subject. Will parents feel slighted if one child is receiving more 1:1 instruction? Are tutors expected to find new ways of teaching concepts if a child simply isn’t picking it up from their distance learning? Create projects? Are they providing any enrichment? Is the tutor responsible for discipline and how will it be practiced?
Whatever your academic expectations are for your pandemic pod, they need to be defined and agreed upon with all families and with your tutor or pod leader before beginning.
Defining metrics for success in your pandemic pod
The third key to success in your pandemic pod is establishing metrics as a way of measuring success and each family may have unique metrics by which they measure it. For a child who is working below grade level on a subject, success may mean bringing them up to grade level. For a child working at or above grade level, success may mean receiving high marks. Your tutor or pod leader should understand how metrics will be used to evaluate their performance within a pandemic pod. Importantly, all families should have an agreement as to the pod’s governance and when a tutor or pod leader needs to be replaced.
COVID-19 protocols within pandemic pods
Establishing agree-upon COVID-19 protocols is the fourth key to a successful pandemic pod. These include what protocols will take place within the pod, for example, if temperature checks will be performed upon arrival and if children and tutors will wear masks during the pod sessions. In addition, families need to agree upon acceptable behavior outside of the pandemic pod. Will families be allowed to travel? If so, is airplane travel acceptable? Will a quarantine period be required after a vacation? Are play dates outside of the pod okay? Visits with nearby family? Trips to restaurants? Religious services? All of these situations, and more, need to be carefully considered when establishing your pod.
Governance within a pandemic pod
Establishing governance is the fifth key to a successful pandemic pod. We’ve discussed this before, but it bears repeating. You and the families you pod with need to have a clear plan in place for addressing issues that arise. These issues may include expelling a family who isn’t working out for any number of reasons, firing a tutor, and finding additional families if space allows. Fundamentally, someone needs to be in charge and take the lead. If a tutor isn’t working out for two children, but three families are happy, what happens? The answer may be different from pod-to-pod, but having a plan is crucial to a pod’s success.
The bottom line
Pandemic pods can be invaluable resources for both children and parents. If you follow these keys to success, including finding the right families, setting expectations, establishing metrics, agreeing on COVID-19 protocols, and creating pod governance, your pod will be ready to operate smoothly for as long as it’s needed.
List your pod or search existing pods in your area on Paper Pinecone.
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