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'A win-win': Learning pods offer an alternative to virtual learning

Parents and teachers are using all different methods to get through this time of distance learning.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — Some parents in Spokane are getting small groups of kids together for what they call 'learning pods.' 

Managing school and work from home can be difficult but private tutors have helped relieve stress.

This school year is not what Kegley Schuh had in mind. She was on track to apply to nursing school but the coronavirus pushed her medical textbook to the side.

Schuh's school shut down and so she went from student to teacher for two girls in the Catholic school system.

"It's just kind of a cool opportunity to see where the year takes us," said Schuh. "It's kind of an open book that we get to write ourselves, so it should be fun." 

She calls herself a 'facili-teacher,' an educator who mainly facilitates learning, instead of teaching it.  

She helps two sisters with distance learning. That means setting up classroom calls, troubleshooting when there are technical problems and even some tutoring for the independent assignments.

Learning pods have become a popular option for working parents. They can also be cost effective if multiple families share the pod teacher so they can split the cost of full-time help. 

Credit: Morgan Trau
Alexandra and Kegley

In this case, Schuh focuses on one family and creates more of an experience beyond the virtual lessons.

"We actually get to go on field trips," said 9-year-old Alexandra.

"Yes, we have 'fun Fridays' set up at the end of every week which will include as long as our work is done," said Schuh. 

A fun Friday would include an art class in the morning and a field trip in the afternoon. Going to the museums downtown is a goal for Alexandra.

It's just the two sisters in her pod, so she is able to also be a nanny for them, taking a lot of pressure of their mom who works from home. 

"It's kind of a win-win because they have somebody who is with them every day to work on their schooling and kind of give some sort of sense of normalcy," she said. "And I get to have fun doing what I like."

Schuh still dreams of being a nurse, but working with the girls has her considering a career in education.