Often, the subject matter being taught is the same for all kids in that pod. Some pods exist to support kids’ online learning. Others exist to supplement online learning. Still others exist to teach academic subjects in ways completely distinct from any online learning – in the case of families opting to homeschool. There are also learning pods that serve as enrichment opportunities – creative writing, community service and / or passion-driven project-based learning, college essay writing, and experimenting / researching in a home-based STEM lab.
1. The first thing parents / caregivers usually say is that a learning pod can provide their kids with the opportunity for socialization. This is very true and important, especially in this time of remote learning.
2. But what’s also often missing with remote learning are opportunities for interdependent learning. Physical classrooms are spaces where kids’ lives and experiences intersect constantly. And within those intersections there are many chances for kids to learn from and with one another, to collaborate in solving problems, to build off one another’s ideas, to be exposed to diversity of experience and thought, and more. Collaboration is a major skill needed for the current and future job market – and a super important skill for life in general. With pods, in a very hands-on way, kids are able to see that we are actually part of one body and that our individual successes are very much tied to the successes of those around us. We talk about being in this together, but then we are isolated from one another. Pods can help to change that.
3. The famed Brazilian educator and philosopher, Paulo Freire said, “If the structure does not permit dialogue, the structure must be changed.” Zooming and remote learning do not allow for truly organic dialogue. Us parents have the power to change that structure on our own. Rather than just dumping information into our kids or manipulating kids into thinking and learning a certain way, pods allow for dialogue and therefore for the process of true learning to happen.
4. Pods allow for different pathways to learning – or differentiation of teaching & learning. As parents, we all want the same thing for our kids – for them to be successful and satisfied / content / happy as well. But the path to this result is different for each kid. Pods allow for those different paths to exist concurrently in the same space.
5. Pods also have the potential to preserve, enhance or rekindle our kids’ love of learning; kids are often losing this love with online / remote learning.
Learning pods are led by a Teacher or Teacher Facilitator [TF]. The TF does not need to be a licensed teacher.
At MyLifeLab, we believe in engaging with the power of our elders' wisdom and related experiences, and in harnessing the potency of intergenerational and community-based learning.
Consider the following possibilities for finding a TF:
having parents / caregivers rotate the job of TF;
having a neighbor or relative step into the role of TF;
having teenage relatives / neighbors who are older than the kids in the pod, deepen their knowledge about a subject matter they are passionate about; teaching content to others is a powerful learning tool for a young TF.
MyLifeLab can provide remote services, within your budget, to support whomever you choose to be your TF. We use a gradual release model and / or on-call services to provide this support.
MyLifeLab offers a variety of tailored services to support your teacher facilitator in the implementation of your child's learning pod. Please click on the link below to be directed to a list of our support services for learning pods and homeschools.
Usually learning pods include groups of kids in the same grade / around the same age; however, this is not necessary. In fact, at MyLifeLab, we urge parents to consider creating pods that are inclusive of a range of ages, while still accounting for kids’ developmental needs. Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, talks about this model of teaching / learning in his book The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined:
“I believe that the school of the future should be built around an updated version of the one-room schoolhouse. Kids of different ages should mix. Without the tyranny of the broadcast lecture and the one-size-fits-all curriculum, there is no reason this can’t be done. With self-paced learning established as the basic model, there’s no reason to lump kids by age, still less to “track” them based on perceive potential. The older or more advanced students become allies of the teacher by mentoring and tutoring the kids who are behind. Younger students benefit by having a range of role models, big brother and big sisters. Older kids sharpen and refine their understanding of concepts in the act of explaining them to younger kids. No one is just a student; everyone is a teacher as well, worthy of the respect that goes with that. And the schoolroom, rather than being an artificial cloister shut off from the rest of life, comes to more closely resemble the world beyond its wall – and therefore to better prepare students to function and to flourish in that world” (2012, p. 194).
In pods with a range of ages, the younger kids develop relationships with mentors and the older kids develop responsibility and a deeper understanding of what they’re learning when they explain concepts to younger kids. These kinds of relationships – among kids of a wide span of ages – have been lost in our traditional schools. Your learning pod can change this!
At MyLifeLab, it is our mission to give parents the power to take back control of their kids’ education, while feeling assured that taking back this power is very doable. A lot of us parents are understandably anxious during this time. We are here to tell you: You’ve got this! We are here for you to help ensure that.