US schools are working around the clock to attempt a seamless, successful back to school experience. But with “back to school” looking very different for most this year, uncertainty remains on the rise, and it’s left many teachers scrambling to understand the impact this year will have on their careers.

There’s no doubt time is ticking; schools, parents, and teachers are quickly working to adapt to the new ways of education. And one of those new trends has come in the form of learning pods (sometimes called pandemic pods) — groups of up to 10 children who meet with a private teacher that has been hired to manage the daily coursework assigned by the children's school. By meeting in small groups, families and teachers alike hope to reduce the exposure to and risks associated with the corona-virus.

Learning pods come in different formats:

  • Some families have chosen to find a teacher who can replace the traditional school setting altogether.
  • Some have opted to hire in-home help to guide their children through their assigned virtual coursework.
  • Some have decided to take on those teacher duties themselves.

Regardless, parents are looking for safer alternatives to educate their children — and a means to ensure the fall ends more successfully than last spring.

With parents worried about their children's education, schools are applying best practices to reopen their doors. Teachers, too, must be prepared. And though we are quickly approaching the start of Academic Year ‘20-’21, rest assured that there are still opportunities for teachers to find learning pods.

Why Learning Pods Exist and How Teachers Can Help

It is important to understand the circumstances under which learning pods exist. Many surveys have shown that safety is the number one priority for parents. Hence, the emergence of remote learning alternatives.

Data continues to show that contact with others — particularly in large groups — increases the likelihood of transmitting the virus. However, smaller groups significantly reduce the risk of transmission — giving children the opportunity to socialize in a safer environment. With this knowledge, many families have taken safety precautions like creating learning pods and establishing health and safety protocols for their inner circles.

The goal of a learning pod is to provide the best education the circumstances permit. Since parents don’t often know how to differentiate teacher-mode from parent-mode, an awkward dynamic between parent and child is often created. Additionally, many have issues following the curricula or have full-time jobs that restrict them from attending to all of their children's academic needs. We get it: being full-time parent, full-time employee, and full-time teacher is no easy task.

However, a private teacher or private tutor can guide students through a predetermined curriculum or provide extra material and resources to enhance the learning. In some cases, private teachers offer their own personalized curriculum, while in most cases, the in-home teacher’s main academic duty is to manage the completion of the child’s virtual curriculum. This way, parents can focus on being parents, and teachers can focus on what they do best.

What Parents are Looking For In Teachers

As you prepare to find job opportunities through families and pods, it is essential to understand what parents are looking for in an in-home teacher. Often, parents are willing to pay a higher salary to those who can demonstrate ideal teacher qualifications. However, this depends on what the learning pod needs — and what parents want.

Besides a safer environment for their children, parents are looking for qualified teachers to guide their children's’ academic growth properly and effectively. Here’s what the data tells us:

  • 90% of families are looking for a professional teacher or tutor to facilitate the existing virtual curriculum.
  • Roughly 70% of families are looking to hire teachers for more than 20 hours per week.
  • Although most hires are for children in lower grade levels, some parents seek guidance for their middle and high school aged children as well.
  • Hybrid guidance (a mix of in-person instruction and virtual assistance) is the type of instruction most parents (85%) are looking for.
  • Some families are asking for supplementary resources and/or extra-curricular activities. So, any hobby or interest you have that will make you a stronger-fit for a family will definitely boost your resume!

With all these demands from families, and all the uncertainty around how COVID-19 will further impact the upcoming year, it’s no surprise that teachers are hesitant in deciding their next move. There are, however, numerous benefits that the experience of leading a learning pod has to offer.

What are The Benefits for Teachers

As you make your next move during this pandemic, you should think about all of your career paths, including learning pods. Whether you remain in an in-school setting, or decide to take on the adventure and challenge of being an in-home instructor, there is no question that teachers are in demand. And there is no doubt that learning pods help teachers improve their skills.

Teachers in training and instructors that are pursuing an education degree or certification are also in demand. Parents need all the support they can get. And the skills you gain now will position you to take on any of the teaching opportunities the future may bring.

In learning pods, you:

  • Reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19
  • Have greater flexibility with your own schedule
  • Are able to dive into projects, lessons, and activities you may not have had the opportunity to teach in a classroom setting
  • Can negotiate your salary to meet your needs and the needs of your own family
  • Are able to sharpen your parent communication, relationship, and collaboration skills
  • Will strengthen your adaptability, differentiation, and problem-solving skills

Learning pods are a great opportunity. Know your needs and worth, and put your best foot forward because this back to school craze is just the beginning.