5 Questions Pods & Micro Schools Need to Ask to Get Started

Are you thinking of starting a pod or micro-school?

If you’ve been frustrated with the fluctuation in education this year, or surprised by how much your kids learned outside of school, you’re not alone!

One of the best innovations to come out of the uncertainty of pandemic schooling has been the pod and micro-school concept. But starting a pod or micro-school isn’t as simple as just gathering in someone’s living room and diving in. To do it right and do it well, you’ll want to put some prep time into considering your goals and planning for your pod.

Here are 5 questions every pod or micro-school group should ask before they get started.

Who is this for?

If you’re thinking of starting a pod or micro-school it’s really important to start by defining who this pod is for. To figure that out, you might want. to ask yourself some questions about what you believe and what you are trying to accomplish. 

For instance:

  • What is our philosophy of education?
  • How do we want our children to learn?
  • What are our beliefs about education?
  • What is our goal for this pod or micro-school?
  • What age group is this for?
  • What are our core values?

Once you know the answers to your key questions, think about your ideal families. Some of these might be people you already know. Others might be people you don’t yet have contact with. How will you know “your people” when you meet them.

Consider writing a short summary based on your answers. This provides an easy way to share your beliefs and your intention for your pod or micro-school with other people.

What Will We Teach?

One option is to follow your state or district curriculum recommendations, but that’s far from the only option!

  • You might take a classical approach and repeat the same four themes three times over the life of an education.
  • Or you might choose annual themes based on STEM, or the Arts, or World Geography and Cultures.
  • You might opt to focus on life skills, or outdoor education, global issues problem solving.
  • Or, you might decide to go with an entirely self-directed or democratic model where you don’t follow any set curriculum at all but work with the interests of your individual learners.

You get to decide what’s right for your pod or micro-school! 

Give some thought to what you will teach and how you will teach it. Don’t just think about this year, think bigger. Plan for the long arc of your kids’ educations. Lay out the whole plan for the life of your pod and then decide on the framework for what you’ll teach each year. 

After you’ve laid out a basic multi-year plan, focus in on the year ahead of you. Break the theme or topics for your year down by month and build an integrated learning plan. 

If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry, Omnis Education has a whole range of resources to support pods and micro-schools and experienced experts to help. 

What About Parental Engagement?

Do you want the parents of your pod or micro-school involved in the daily workings of the school and supporting your learners in hands on ways? Or are you designing a school that will free parents up from daily involvement in teaching their kids?

Setting expectations around parental involvement is really important to do up front. Parents want to know what they are getting into, and as the organizers, you want to get clear on how much of the heavy lifting and support will come from the families involved.

How will you keep parents informed and engaged throughout the school year? 

There’s no right answer to this, it’s just a matter of determining what is right for the community you are building.

Do we need to hire a teacher?

This is a big question and it’s going to impact your pod or micro-school significantly in terms of both cost and the day to day experience.

You might want to consider a teacher if:

  • You want a more “hands off” experience for parents in your pod
  • You are nervous about teaching your kids
  • You don’t have enough engaged parents for a cooperative model
  • You’re trying to mirror the state or district school experience
  • You are starting a pod with a particular educational philosophy (Montessori or Waldorf, for example)

Things to consider when you hire a teacher:

  • The nuts and bolts of a teacher contract
  • Will you provide healthcare or benefits?
  • What you’ll do about a substitute teacher for sick days
  • Experience with your particular age group or split level, multi-grade, teaching
  • Salary compensation divided among the participating families
  • Level of enthusiasm for your particular style of pod or micro-school

Do We Have Our Policies In Place?

Everything is fine in a pod or micro-school… until it isn’t.

What happens when:

  • There’s a discipline issue with a child
  • Parents aren’t living up to their commitments
  • Someone decides to quit or stop paying
  • A teacher isn’t working out
  • There is an instance of racism
  • You want to take a field trip
  • A complaint is filed
  • There is a health and safety issue

Don’t leave things to chance in your pod or micro-school. Make sure that you have a robust set of policies in place to cover every eventuality and make sure that your parents and teachers have access to them from the very beginning.

If that feels overwhelming, don’t worry; Omnis Education has a full set of plug-and-play policies for you to download with one click and edit to suit your school. This is the easy part.

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