Editors note: This is the transcript to the mAke the grAde podcast episode 84 = How to maximize your pod experience.
10 must do’s to insure a successful pod:
- Go beyond academics.
- Set goals.
- Teamwork and group work
- Interface with other pods.
- Seek expert advice.
- Interface with teachers.
- Make the pod unique. You don’t have to emulate school to be successful and for the children to learn.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST RECORDING HERE
Podcast episode- this one is going to be called ‘How to Maximize Your Pod Experience’. Pods are super big now, that’s what this is all about: how to maximize your pods experience. Here we go.
We are back! Doctor Steven Greene- the Success Doctor- with the Make the Grade podcast, and speaking of podcast today. Get your pen, get your notes, we need a lot of notes to be taken. I’m going to be telling you how to maximize your pod experience; not podcasting, pods.
So what is a pod? Well, if you are not familiar, here’s what’s going on: So many students, so many schools, so many people are now on virtual learning (home learning, remote learning, call it what you may, ‘homeschooling’) and what’s happened is families and groups have banded together to form small little consortiums we are calling ‘pods’.
So the pods will tend to have a commonality- maybe they’re all fifth graders, maybe they all go to the same school, maybe they live in the same neighborhood, but it’s their room for support.
One of the driving forces of the pod isn’t even academic, it’s almost a childcare issue because parents have to go back to work or have to work at home, and it’s difficult to monitor individually while you’re working- especially if you have multiple children- several things going on at once and, as an adult, trying to do your day job. Difficult.
So let’s get right to the meat of the topic for this episode, which is how do you- how does a student, how does a parent, how does a family, how does a pod maximize the pod experience?
So number one: You’ve got to make sure there’s compatibility. I imagine that if the kids don’t get along or the circumstances aren’t favorable that way, you’re going to have some issue just like you would in a normal classroom. So you need to have a commonality there; maybe they’re friends, maybe they’re in the same class.
This seems fairly obvious, but sometimes things get put together more for convenience or because this is kind of all you could find than are being put together from an academic compatibility standpoint. So my thing’s always academics. That’s where I prioritize. So can the members of the pod- grade level, socially- get together and work together? So that’s an important consideration.
Number two: You must have your structures in place. I talk frequently about the five important structures of home learning, and we’ll get into it very briefly now. Number one- and this is all true with the pod- number one: You have to have your physical structure in place. Where are the children going to work? Are they all at one big table? Are they separated in different rooms? Are they sitting on the floor? Do they have desks? Did you bring in tables and maybe set them up?
And I have seen- as an aside, right now I’m administering four different pods of different age groups, and I’m going to draw on some of that experience throughout this. But in one case, families actually bought tables, de facto desks, and each child has a table- their desk, their workspace- they’re separated, they’re socially distanced, and they’re working there. So you must have a physical structure.
You have to have a time structure. The time structure of a pod does not have to mirror 100% the school unless the kids have to be in front of the screen engaged in the class at the time, which does happen. Some schools are having structures where from [9:20] to [10:45] it’s math class and you have to be logged into that class.
But as an administrator of a pod or a member of a pod, you have to have a time situation that’s understood by everybody. You can’t have one child running around doing what they want and another one doing something else.
Number three is the academic structure. What is driving the academics? Most likely, it’s going to be material from the school, but it may not completely be that, and you may have children at different levels. We have somebody who’s an advanced math student paired with somebody who’s struggling with math.
The fourth structure is accountability. Who is keeping the children and the students accountable? Is it the administrator of the pod? Or the parents? Is it the teachers? How’s the grading happening? And the last one is support. If you need exterior support, where are you going to get it? I’m administering some pods, I’m handling most of this, but there are things that we need extra help on. Sometimes it’s actual, physical care. We have six kids in one of the pods. Sometimes they bring in a second admin to break the groups up into smaller groups.
But you need to know where that support’s coming from ahead of time. You don’t want that to be something you’re concerned about when it’s a big problem. As I like to say, “You won’t find the number for the firehouse when the fire’s already started.” Plan ahead. Be proactive.
Number three: You need to evaluate and reevaluate. How is it working? Are the kids still compatible two, three weeks in? Are they working at a similar pace? Are they helping each other? What’s working? Do more of it. What’s not working? Do less of it. Important. Test and measure, reevaluate, and then move ahead.
Number four- I feel strongly about this one. Go beyond academics. Most of the pods I’m experiencing and most of the ones the people I know are doing and working in are centered on the academics and the childcare aspect because that’s the real reality of what’s going on, particularly in the first two, three months of school.
But don’t be hesitant about bringing other things in. I’ll talk to people that are putting pods together to do art, to do music, to have like a little chamber orchestra that they’re putting together. I’ve heard about ones where people are doing art. A lot of people do dance; they’re getting together and doing dancing, sports. So the pod does not necessarily have to center on academics, although many do. But think about branching out and bringing in what I’m just going to call ‘extracurricular activities’ to the pod.
Steve Greene here at the Make the Grade podcast. My goal, always, is to provide actions that parents and students can take immediately to maximize their education. Talking today about pods; how to get the most out of your pods. Speaking of maximizing, how do you maximize your pod experience?
Number five: Set goals. Set individual goals for each member of the pod. Set collective goals for the pod as a group. Where do you want everybody to be at the end of each week? Where do you want the group to be at the end of each week? Where do you want to be today? This falls back on the accountability structure.
You can’t just set a goal after it’s happened, you’ve got to set a goal. So with the pods I’m running, Monday we sit down, we get together. What are we going to accomplish this week? We’ve got all the school things. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Check, check check. But what else are we going to do? Are we going to get better on our time management? Are we going to get better at taking notes? Are we going to get better at working together, cooperating? There’s tangibles, there’s intangibles. There’s subjective, there’s objective.
Number six: I like to encourage teamwork and group work in pods, to a point. Obviously, part of the reason of the pod is you’re social distancing from the larger group, but the assumption is the children in the pod are COVID-free, safe, so they can work together, at least to a point. So we have done a lot in one of the pods with teamwork, group work, sharing responsibilities, doing activities together. I brought a big whiteboard into one of the pods, basically like a blackboard or chalkboard would be in a classroom, old school. And we take turns writing problems on the board. We’re also doing the same thing collectively through the technology because we’re all sharing the same program on the computer. But the point is, have the kids work together. Do group work.
Number seven: Interface with other pods. Now, I’m not talking about physically. We had a situation in a pod I was running last week where we got onto a group call with another pod. So there were seven people at my location, me and the six members of the pod, and four at another one, and we did a jeopardy game with the kids playing against each other while they were learning a topic. So we would flash a math problem on the screen, they would all do it, one team would get a point who got it right, things like that. But we interfaced with another pod. It was really fun, the kids liked it, a little positive competitiveness. It was good, and we’ll continue to do it.
Number eight: Seek expert advice. Look, parents are doing the best they can. Teachers are doing the best they can. But parents at home running the pod, this is not what you’re trained to do, this is not what you’re used to doing. In some cases, frankly, it’s not what some people want to do. They’re doing it out of necessity. So don’t be hesitant to seek expert advice outside of the pod when needed.
I have four other pods I’m working with that just consult me whenever- irregularly. “How do we handle this?” “What’s your advice on this?” “What would you do in this situation?” Because you need a trained teacher. Education is a skill. Education is something you can learn to do. There’s all sorts of theory within it that you learn as a teacher, and you get experience as a teacher. So ask when you need help. It’s not a bad thing.
Number nine: Interface with teachers. In this case, I mean the students’ teachers, the children in the pod’s teachers. So in the pods I’m admin-ing, I have set up a situation about once a week, once every other week, where we have an email exchange with the teachers, and make sure everybody’s on the same page. How are they doing? Is everything being covered? Are there any gaps? Anything that isn’t being handled correctly? Anything not being submitted?
And I always ask, “What are we going to do next?” Because one of the things I do in all the pods I admin is I pre-teach and preview material for the kids; teach it to them ahead of time so that when they see it in the instruction, it’s almost a semi-review for them. It really helps them academically, it helps their comfort level, it helps their confidence.
And the last tip I’ve given, number ten: The pod does not have to be an emulation of school. It can be a much more open, freer environment. I look at it more almost like day camp interfacing with school. Let the kids have fun, let them interact, let them talk to each other. They don’t have to sit there, stoically, staring at the screen. And that’s not what school is about either, a lot of the time, but fundamentally, that’s what a group classroom requires. You have twenty-five, thirty children in a classroom, just to make it through the class you have to have a lot of structure, you need quiet, you need people all on the same page, engaged. So when you have a pod with three, four, five, six people, you can have a lot more interaction; talking, working together, comparing answers, things like this.
So there I’ve give you ten tips, and any one of them will help you, but real quickly:
Number One: Compatibility
Four: Go beyond academics.
Five: Set goals.
Six: Teamwork and group work
Seven: Interface with other pods.
Eight: Seek expert advice.
Nine: Interface with teachers.
Ten: Make the pod unique. You don’t have to emulate school to be successful and for the children to learn.
Steve Greene with the Make the Grade podcast. I’ll give you three other things you
can do. I offer a virtual learning plan. It’s an excellent tool. Parent, family fills out a survey, completes a questionnaire. Based on the questionnaire, I put together a two or three page document for you that guides you through home learning.
Let me make something clear: home learning is not going to be limited to virtual learning during the shut-in. There’s always been homework. I’ve been in education thirty plus years, there’s been homework all thirty of them. So there’s always a home component to learning, and this is what this plan does. It’s that much more valuable in a virtual situation.
Number two: September 10th, 2020, 8:00 pm Eastern Time, www.makethegrade.school: Virtual Back to School Event. Perfect for parents, get tons of information about ways to maximize your back to school experience. There are six expert panel speakers covering all sorts of things across the board.
Number three: www.makethegrade.community. The Success Community; tremendous resource, tremendous support for everything I’ve talked about today.
So, let’s wrap it up. Steve Greene- the Success Doctor. My website, makethegrade.net; all things are accessible through there. You’ve also got the summit at makethegrade.school, you’ve got the success community at makethegrade.community.
I love your feedback, love your comments. Let me know what you’re thinking. Please share the podcast if it helps, because I know the more people that get this information (especially now) the more positive stuff is going to be happening in the education world. My role, to help students, parents, families to maximize their education.
Thank you again. Have a great week, have a great month, talk to you soon.