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Pods may change the face of education



Teachers and families join to create a new teaching environment, but what about equity?

Pods may change the face of education


An elementary school teacher in Virginia, disgruntled by her district's refusal to let her opt for remote teaching over in-person classes this fall, is considering quitting to lead two learning pods of seven children each, for which parents will pay $300 per week for each child. As the Washington Post reports, the vacillation of school districts about back-to-school plans has many parents relieved to place their kids in pods, small groups of children who learn together under a hired teacher, reducing the risk of multiple contacts that classroom learning entails.

School administrators fear the consequences of too many teachers leaving the public school system to teach pods: a shortage of teachers and a downgraded education for students whose parents can't afford the cost of podding. For teachers, pods mean secure, regularly scheduled work with small groups of children instead of classes of 25 or more, no requirement for standardized testing, and a reduced danger of COVID infection. For parents who can afford the cost, pods mean an end to the stresses of remote learning, worry about in-class contagion, and constantly shifting plans during the fall.

Some teachers feel pods have already gained so much traction, they signal a significant change for the U.S. system of education.

Learn more about podding here

Another form of podding, which may be cost-effective enough to benefit lower-income families, involves bringing groups of children together for remote learning on Chromebooks or other low-cost laptops, with supervision by educators or volunteers. This model is about to start operation in Kingston, NY, where the Center for Creative Education has organized a remote learning program for families without internet access. The non-profit has enough space for 60 students out of the 270 who applied. Similar programs are being organized in Broward County, Florida, with the support of a group of business executives, public health professionals, and educators.

In some cases, teachers are volunteering to work after school with pods of students from low-income families, at a park for now, or in a semi-public space like a church basement once the weather gets colder.



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