How You Can Create An Inclusive Pandemic Pod
We think you’ll agree when we say:
It has been REALLY hard figuring out the whole be a work-from-home parent and run a pandemic pod thing.
And you’ve read all about how pods are increasing educational inequality but with such a complex issue, how do you navigate it?
How do you provide the best for your children while still supporting equity and inclusion?
First off, there isn’t a straightforward solution to this, but there are micro-actions we can take to help build a more inclusive and diverse learning pod.
if you can only do the minimum
1. stay enrolled in public schools
If possible, have your pod parents keep their children enrolled in public school.
Withdrawing attendance means that state and federal dollars leave too, which increases funding shortfalls that disproportionately affect Black and brown children. Public schools’ chronic issue of poor funds would become worse.
Staying enrolled can just mean fulfilling the minimum to meet state attendance and learning requirements.
We know that a number of public schools haven’t confirmed distance learning expectations and hours, but waiting to receive class rosters and schedules can help create inclusive pods.
Contact your local public school to inquire about their plans for this upcoming semester, and to discuss options within the framework of your school system.
2. emphasize inclusivity
Ensure that every participant from a low-income family feels deeply included and not like a charity case.
Discuss with your pod on how everyone will cultivate a culture of kindness and liberation. Each child might be from a different background and look different.
Use the pod to build an understanding with one another. Your children benefit greatly from being with peers of diverse backgrounds.
Also, consider whether your group can support children with different abilities and needs. Even if your pod can’t provide full academic guidance for kids on the autism spectrum, simply offering a space for healthy social interaction makes a difference.
3. add to the curriculum
A good way to encourage understanding between students is by adding diversity segments into the curriculum. Incorporating segments throughout the curriculum ensures that they aren’t forgotten.
The learning pod lessons should decenter whiteness/heteronormative paradigms. It’s easy to label the KKK as an example of white supremacy, but it’s important to show how racial superiority is present in mundane life.
Always include diverse voices and perspectives in your curriculum. Plenty of books and frameworks online can help your pod build an antiracist education.
Nearpod’s “Racial justice resource guide” provides free lessons to support antiracist teaching and learning with historical content and social skill-building.
PBS Teachers Lounge published “Tools for Anti-Racist Teaching,” a 4 part video series that support your own learnings of anti-Black racism and help you discover innovative ways to integrate media into inclusive teaching practices.
Edutopia wrote “Educate to Liberate: Build an Anti-Racist Classroom” on how to recognize and empower students with different backgrounds, validating their experiences and perspectives.
We also held a webinar on how to become an anti-racist educator with Megan Nevels, an expert in anti-bias and positive school climate initiatives at K-12 schools. Watch the webinar recording and download our free, interactive workbook.
Children are never too young to learn about race, racism, and antiracism. PBS is one of the organizations that gathered articles, children’s books, and documentaries on how to have these meaningful conversations.
if you can do more
1. create sliding scale pricing
A sliding scale adjusts the cost of joining the learning pod according to the family’s income. This payment model allows low-income families to afford a learning pod.
Before setting a sliding scale, add up the expenses of holding a learning pod, and hiring a teacher. Depending on how you hire your teacher, include expenses such as workers’ compensation and payroll taxes. Then you can determine the lowest possible price offered on the sliding scale.
Families that can afford the full cost of the learning pod could do so.
2. Or fully subsidize a spot
But equity goes beyond offering a subsidized spot to a student who deals with many disadvantages. Many low-income families relied on public schools providing free transportation, child care, and meals while parents worked unforgiving hours as essential workers.
They might also lack common PPE that other families can readily purchase in bulk such as masks and thermometers.
Before reaching out to families in need, identify what your pod will help provide so that disadvantaged children can be holistically supported, not symbolically.
Remember to maintain humility and transparency throughout your efforts.
Every family has unique circumstances and might not readily accept your resources.
Accept refusal with understanding and keep reaching out to families who may need exactly what you’re offering.
if you can do even more
1. sponsor a learning pod
If you have the financial means, sponsor a family so they could run their own pod in their neighborhood.
Sponsoring can mean covering the at-home teacher’s salary, which is the bulk of a learning pod’s expenses. You can also sponsor additional costs such as transportation, school supplies, and PPE. Some families have trouble covering these essentials, so your sponsorship would go a long way.
Communicate about your sponsorship to low-income families at your school. If you don’t know any, check out places such as your school’s resource site or local Facebook groups.
2. donate to organizations
Even the smallest donation can make a difference! Here are a few organizations and GoFundMes accepting donations to ensure that as many families as possible join learning pods.
Equity Focused Learning Pods GoFundMe
You can also start your own community GoFundMe to help support families in need.
Creating a more inclusive approach to learning pods takes time and effort.
Where the government can’t provide adequate support, parents with various privileges step up and make a difference.
Yes, it’s overwhelming to have more responsibilities, but when you focus on helping one another and sharing resources, you champion equity.
All children deserve the opportunity to thrive, an opportunity you can help create, contribute or simply advocate.
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How are you creating an inclusive learning pod?