How did you start exploring pod as an option?
Our school announced that they will be doing two options - full time distance learning or hybrid with 1-2 days in person. My husband and I decided that we didn’t feel comfortable with the hybrid option due to the risks. Since both my husband and I work full time, we decided to supplement Sahil’s learning. We knew that we needed someone to help us. I learned that due to all these changes, substitute teachers won’t be as needed. So I figured that there must be lots of substitute teachers who are looking for jobs right now. That’s how it started.
How was the process in finding the other families? What kind of discussion did you have with them?
My son has two other friends that he has grown up with. We knew their families well. So I reached out to the moms and told them about my idea of hiring a tutor for my son. They were both looking for the same thing, so it was an easy match. It was very important for me that we were all comfortable about our social distancing practices. So, we talked about that, our expectations and what we wanted to get out of hiring a tutor for our kids.
What was the selection process like for the teacher?
I posted the job description on Nextdoor and received several applications. We narrowed it down to two teachers based on who best fit our needs. Both are substitute teachers, credentialed, certified and fingerprinted. Once we had made our selection, we wanted to make sure that we were comfortable with the teacher and vice versa. I also wanted to make sure that the kids had a say – they are 7 years old and they now know what they like and don’t like. So we decided to meet at a park so the teacher can see how the kids interact. This also gave us the opportunity to see if she would be able to handle the three kids.
That’s a great way to do it! What about the coordination with the other two parents?
The two moms and I got together to discuss the schedules and logistics. We talked about who’s going to host, what are the requirements, etc. We wanted to start a week before school starts so the kids can get acclimated to their new teacher. Based on the availability of the other parents and logistics, we decided that we are meeting from 1:30-3PM, three days a week. After the first week, we are going to do a quick debrief to assess the situation, make sure the kids are happy and see if anything needs to be tweaked or changed.
What about the curriculum for the kids? How did you decide what areas to focus on?
All the three boys are at the same level and have similar areas of development. Most of the kids are very strong in math. So we decided to focus on social emotional component, creative writing, public speaking. Once school starts, we need to see the first few weeks of school, then debrief and see if we need to change what we are doing.
What has been the biggest challenge in forming the pod?
Finding the teacher took a bit of time. Also aligning on the definition of social distancing since that’s a sensitive topic. There’s lots of risks involved. Even though we are all friends, we need to be realistic and think about the worst case scenario in case someone gets COVID. Each of us needs to understand what’s important for each family. These three families are now one family. So we need to be open to each other. I used this article to help discuss the risk factor with the other parents. We still need to discuss who pays the hospital bill, who pays the insurance – hard topics but it could happen one day so we need to discuss it.
How can 39Hats help you during this time?
Had I discovered 39Hats earlier, I would have used the pod form and explore more the different options out there. In the future, I look forward to additional tips on setting up a pod, managing pod's contract and also curriculum to follow. I would also like to learn and connect with others who have formed pods or chosen other virtual options.
Thanks so much Palu for sharing your experience. We are currently working on the topics that Palu suggested. So be on the lookout for our upcoming blogs.