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Top Four Tips for a Successful Learning Pod

For the past ten years, I have facilitated learning pods at my private tutoring center, StudyPage, located in both Tarzana and Thousand Oaks CA. Before COVID, my center offered a year-round after school program called Homework Club.

On any given day our facility was filled with up to 15 students ranging from K-12. At StudyPage, I created a learning environment modeled after a library setting. Our center offered students the opportunity to work together with the qualified aid of our tutors adhering to the philosophy of anti-tutoring by showing them that they have the tools they need to be successful.

During the spring and summer of 2020, we ran small pods and adhered to all CDC safety regulations. Our pods taught students about their unique learning styles, how to be more efficient learners, and how to think ahead and prepare for the upcoming weeks.

Drawing on my experience from the past decade as an Anti-Tutor, I’ve compiled the following tips to guide parents and educators to successfully manage their learning pods.

1- Limit the Number of Students

Three students per educator is the magic number for any group. You need one tutor for every 3 students in the same grade. The same grade or learning level helps maintain consistency. If students have similar comprehension levels they can help each other and students won’t feel singled out or discouraged. Within a group of 3, if one of the students has a different level of learning or a different workload you will need a second tutor. Likewise, if your pod has more than 3 students, you will need a second tutor in order for the learning pod to be efficient. An ideal scenario will have a full pod of 6 students who are all in the same grade with similar learning levels with two tutors as support.

2- Make a Dedicated Workspace

Create a learning space or area in your home dedicated to learning. Your students will need a desk, a chair, and school supplies. It is important to keep this space simple. Use a storage area for extra supplies. At StudyPage, we have a neat and well-organized supply station, which can be used to refill any items that a student may need. Keeping the workplace simple reduces distractions. Avoid anything that will disrupt learning, so the fewer distractions the better. Students need to be able to focus, concentrate on their workload. The goal is to make learning fun without distracting your students. Use creative erasers or use their favorite color in this space in order to create a non-invasive yet positive association to learning and working. It is possible to inject fun into learning without compromising their productivity.

3- Be Flexible

A flexible learning environment allows your child to enjoy getting tasks done on their own accord. A happy and motivated student will take responsibility in their own education, which is an extremely important life skill. Flexibility also takes into account educational expression or the freedom to explore and discover various solutions to the problems they encounter in their homework. This is important because it takes into account your child’s individual learning style, which will inform the teaching styles that are necessary to instruct your child. There should be versatility in how concepts are taught to your child to encourage their educational expression. This is how learning can be tailored and personalized for your child’s needs in comparison to the one size fits all mentality in a school classroom. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE BACK UP ACTIVITIES FOR DOWNTIME!

4- Make a Schedule

Believe it or not, students love structure! Give your pod structure by planning out each week as well as listing a daily schedule. This gives students an idea of what to look forward to and helps ensure goals are met. Calendars are fun! Give your POD a change to make their like school by adding in "dress days" and fun events.

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