Learning Pods : Pros and Cons
As the coronavirus pandemic drags on and changes the way students are educated, many parents are exploring ways to get their children and teens back into some manner of in-person learning. One idea that has gained traction among many parents is creating “pods” of students who stick together and attend class, homeschool, and/or tutoring sessions as a sort of closed-circuit group.
What is a “Learning Pod”?
A new idea, there are two primary conceptions of a learning pod. The first has the same group of students rotating between their various family homes for home/remote learning, so that parents in the pod can take turns acting as teacher and child care provider, thereby giving them some days off to go to a workplace and alleviating some of the stress of providing home instruction. The second idea of a pod is similar, but instead of parents acting as the sole education providers, the group hires a teacher or tutor to come and provide home instruction, homework help, and/or subject-area tutoring to the students one or more days a week.
Why the Push for Pods?
The idea behind learning pods is that families can limit the amount of people their students come into contact with, thereby allowing for some in-person teaching and learning while mitigating the risks of getting or spreading the virus. Both styles of pods have some benefits as well as several drawbacks. Since we’re all navigating this new reality, without much consensus from government, health, and education officials as to how to best proceed, it’s worth exploring the pros and cons of learning pods. All families will ultimately have to weigh both the health and educational benefits and drawbacks and make the most appropriate and feasible decision for their children and families.
- Learning pods allow for students to engage with their peers for both educational and social purposes, including participating in cooperative learning and group projects
- Creating pods of students seems safer than students attending school together en mass, thereby reducing worry and stress among students and families
- Rotating groups of students between a few households allows parents with specific subject area knowledge to teach specific subjects each day
- Small group learning with an educational professional is an effective method of instruction and allows for individualized learning within a group interaction
- Pods may seem safer than some alternatives, but no pod can be a closed system and even if everyone trusts their fellow members, students and parents may still unwittingly get exposed and pass on the virus
- Pods consisting of just students and their parents are easier to manage and keep “closed”, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to guarantee that teachers, who will travel from pod to pod in addition to living their own independent lives, will not become infected from nor spread the virus to various pods
- Students in a single pod may be working at different levels and have varying degrees of mastery in various subjects, meaning that some of the instruction may be more or less effective for different students
- Anyone considering hiring a teacher or tutor to teach their “pod” of students must understand that that person is likely going to other homes to teach other individual students and pods, thereby increasing the risk of infection for all parties
- For high school and college students, most teachers and tutors are not equipped to teach every subject, so a single pod may require 2 or more tutors
- Taking the pod outside, especially given the data suggesting that virus transmission is much less likely in open air, would be the safest in-person option when the weather permits
- Members of the pod must develop common protocols for the pod and address issues including mask wearing during lessons, expectations for behavior outside of the pod, etc…
Parents are understandably desperate to return to some sense of normalcy and for their children to receive appropriate and effective instruction after a dismal spring semester when most districts and teachers were figuring out how to teach remotely for the first time and without much time for planning. Pods offer an enticing potential solution by allowing students to gather as a small group on a consistent basis to receive instruction and do schoolwork. The obvious benefits of this may outweigh any potential risks for some families, while others may not see the educational, social, and mental health benefits as worth the risk of potentially getting a family member sick. These are tough times, and families and older students are facing difficult decisions regarding if and how to attend in-person classes, and more generally, how best to approach learning, testing, and educational planning. There is no perfect choice; the best solution seems to be to get educated, weigh all your options and their pros and cons, and go with your gut regarding what is best for your family.
Having Alex as a tutor was amazing. She is patient, understanding and very supportive in many ways. Alex not only helped our son with his writing and vocabulary, she helped him organize his thoughts and strengthen his study skills. I highly recommend Alex as a tutor.
When there are so many great things that can be said about a person, it is hard to find the right words that truly satisfy that person’s character. I first began working with Alex when I was a freshman in high school. Not having success with previous tutors, I concluded that tutors simply are not for me. However, Alex showed me otherwise; her personalized teaching style, depth of knowledge, attentive manner, and even sense of humor is above any tutor I’ve ever encountered. Beyond the skills that make Alex an effective yet enjoyable tutor, she also provides insight and guidance to those who are struggling in certain areas of their life. I have sought Alex’s help with challenges both big and small, and she always steers me in the right direction while teaching me important life skills in the process. As I am now approaching my senior year, I am overwhelmed with feelings of confidence and excitement because I know that I will have Alex by my side.
I hired Alex to help me obtain a private school placement at the district’s expense for my 3rd grader, who is nonverbal and autistic. After hiring an ineffective attorney for the same purpose when my son was in first grade, Alex was able to accomplish this goal and got my son a placement in a specialized, private school program. While this endeavor took months of work, meetings, emails, and school visits to accomplish, my son is now in an appropriate program where he is able to learn and thrive. Additionally, Alex was able to get the school district to provide every single service, accommodation, and technology that I was requesting for my son. Alex is assertive, articulate, and knows the law and best educational practices. As such, she effectively and vociferously advocated on my son’s behalf and accomplished all of my goals. I highly recommend her to anyone in need of an advocate!
Alex is a highly skilled and knowledgeable writing teacher. Warm and nurturing. Reliable. Made learning meaningful, engaging and fun. Definitely recommend and will use again.
I must admit that I was absolutely fortunate when I stumbled upon Alex’s website during my internet search a year and a half ago. I was desperately looking for someone to proof read my papers and assist in guiding me throughout the pursuit of my doctorate degree. With the guidance, support, and constructive criticism from this very knowledgeable, insightful, and patient individual I received As in all my courses. I truly enjoyed working with Alex.
Alex is very well-versed and knowledgeable about many subjects. I have not been in school in over 20 years and now I am back to obtain my doctorate degree. Alex has helped me get organized and has assisted me with my APA citations, grammar, and word choice. My writing skills have improved significantly and every one of my papers has received an A. Alex has provided me with the skills I need to continue my studies. I am so lucky to have met Alex.
Amanda: I am a student of Alex’s. I would recommend Alex to other students because she pushes you, gives you confidence, and she has a great sense of humor. She turns around any of your negative feelings into positive ones so you can believe in yourself to succeed.
Doretta: I am Amanda’s mom. Alex has a tremendous amount of patience. She is creative, funny, and very knowledgeable of her material. Alex tutored my daughter to obtain a driving permit. This was a major challenge for Amanda. Aside from needing help to learn the material, Amanda also has severe test anxiety. Amanda also has had many many tutors throughout her life. Alex not only helped Amanda learn the material and prepare for the test, but also made her believe in herself and decreased her anxiety. She is truly an awesome teacher and person. I highly recommend her to any struggling student.
Alex is a hard working and extremely dedicated person. Not only is she able to help me better understand what I am studying but she also has a way of inspiring me to learn more. I have had many tutors and I know for a fact that Alex is by far the best. She pushes me to better myself and helps me become increasingly more interested in school. Alex helps me with whatever I need to improve on and is always the first and most excited to congratulate me on my accomplishments. After studying with Alex my grades have dramatically improved. This made it possible for me to get into a high honors English class after years of special Ed. Also with her help she made looking and applying for colleges an enjoyable experience. She is an amazing tutor and person and I can go on forever stating how much she has helped me become a confident student.
My daughter struggled with writing her college application essay. We were fortunate to meet Alex who not only helped our daughter select the appropriate subject matter and prepare a well-written essay, but minimized the stress and drama that comes with this process. Alex has great writing skills and she is very creative and extremely knowledgable about the admissions process. Alex is a pleasure to work with.
Alex helped me with my personal statements for graduate school. It was helpful to brainstorm ahead of time because it made our sessions more productive. However, we brainstormed more throughout our sessions. She made me feel confident in my writing and the writing process less stressful. She took notes as we talked and cares about making a connection with her students. I definitely recommend her assistance! It was such a pleasure to work with her and I will be sure to keep in contact with her for future assignments!
Alex has worked with my son for three months and the improvement we have seen has been tremendous. My son went from failing in math to exceeding his peers in class. He enjoys his sessions with Alex and as a matter of fact, looks forward to her coming to tutor him, he refers to it as “so much fun and interesting”. Alex provided our son with the necessary strategies to apply to solve math problems and we can see him applying those strategies in his homework assignments. Our son went from 60’s and 70’s to 95 in scores for his math tests. We are incredibly lucky and grateful to have found Alex. She has done wonders for our son and has been able to teach him in a manner where he understands and retains the information. She has far exceeded our expectations in so little time.
Alex has been working with our 2nd grade daughter for over a few months now, and she has had an amazing, positive impact on her. Alex is knowledgeable, hardworking, and extremely patient with our daughter who has been having some challenges reading. Alex was able to identify our daughter’s weaknesses and help provide the necessary strategies and techniques to help her improve her reading skills. Alex is an excellent tutor who my daughter says “makes reading fun”! She eagerly awaits and looks forward to her sessions with Alex as Alex never fails to have a clever game and fun worksheets for them to work on together. With Alex’s help, our daughter’s confidence has really grown, and her reading has significantly improved –she will actually read aloud now! We are so grateful to have found Alex – she has truly been able to teach our daughter in ways that she can understand and learn. We can’t thank Alex enough for all her hard work, and would highly recommend her. If you’re looking for an intelligent, dedicated and incredibly responsive tutor, look no further!
Alex is an inspiring tutor, full of enthusiasm and knowledge. Her lessons are always personalized and tailored specifically to my daughter’s needs. My 5th grade daughter always looks forward to meeting with Alex, as Alex always includes activities and games that make learning fun for her. I noticed her increase in confidence and it showed through her improvement in grades. Dedicated, professional, reliable – what more could you ask for! I would highly recommend Alex without any hesitation. Thank you, Alex!
Alex worked with me very diligently and helped me with several college supplemental essays. Alex knew exactly what college admissions officers were looking for which helped me include critical information in my essays. Also, I was able to engage in conversation with Alex about how to go about revising my essays. She approaches the essay sentence by sentence and makes sure that the essential question: “so what?” is always answered within the writing. I recommend Alex as a tutor for anyone in need of help for any piece of writing.
I hired Alex as a tutor and an advocate to help me prepare and receive accommodations for an NASM personal training exam. Alex was critical in helping me successfully study and prepare for the test by teaching me effective study skills and test-taking strategies. Alex was able to get NASM to provide me the full extent of accommodations that I was legally entitled to. She also made sure that the reader for my test was competent and prepared by personally escorting me to the testing center to make sure that they were following the appropriate procedures. I am extremely thankful to Alex for her dedication to my success and for helping me pass the exam.
Alex is well prepared and detail-oriented and works hard during the sessions to make sure my son understands what she is working on with him.
My adult brother has been working with Alex for the past few months. She is amazing! I have never known someone in this profession to be so patient, insightful and so good at breaking down challenges into pieces of a puzzle in order to find the best possible solution.
Alex was able to help me improve my study and test-taking skills and I’m so glad I hired her! I am a nursing student in a competitive program and I felt lost given the vast amount of material that I had to study. Alex helped me use recall strategies like mnemonics to remember difficult terminology for exams. She was also helpful in teaching me metacognitive strategies for focus and self-monitoring during testing. I am especially grateful to Alex for helping me navigate through the difficult “red tape” of my program. She taught me effective self-advocacy techniques so that I was able to attain the outcome I was seeking by being assertive about my rights. I am now much more confident about going into my next semester of school and feel like I have the necessary skills to succeed.