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'Teaching pods' growing in popularity as majority of HISD families opt to continue virtual learning

A teaching pod is a fancy way of describing small group learning.

HOUSTON — Houston ISD is getting ready to welcome students back into the classroom. 

Although in-person learning begins Monday, Oct 19, a majority of families are choosing to continue virtual learning. 

As your Education Station, KHOU is committed to sharing creative options to help your child learn. 

Have you considered a teaching pod? A teaching pod is a fancy way of describing small group learning.

The concept is becoming so popular, they’re popping up at public spaces like Levy Park in Houston. 

“This just allows that extra bonus to where they don’t have to sit in front of a screen, and instead of watching a video, or reading the notes about let’s say, science,” said pod teacher Carli Hopf. “We actually do the experiment and it’s more hands-on for them.”

Hopf, who was a 5th-grade teacher for six years, was hired on by four Houston ISD families. She says she’s licensed and certified to teach in Texas. 

She works with students' teachers and works to support HISD’s curriculum. 

“They’re still responsible for the notes that the teachers' post and they’re still responsible for the assignments,” said Hopf. 

“It’s fun but, like, not as good as school,” said Hart, a 5th-grade teaching pod student. The 10-year old and his friends will return to Poe Elementary on Monday.

“I don’t know how much I want to go back to school because my parents, they’re older than me,” said Ellie. “So it’s easier for them to get the pandemic.”

Ellie says she’s worried about her parents' health but wants to see her friends. 

She hasn’t seen most of them since HISD broke for Spring break in mid-March. That’s when a novel strain of the coronavirus was declared a National Emergency by President Donald Trump so school districts across the country rushed to create an online curriculum for students.


And because of the pandemic, teaching pods are growing in popularity. Families split a tutor’s hourly wage. 

Hopf’s hourly rate is between $40 and $50 an hour. She works with four 5th graders three days a week. The structure and schedule are helping to ease the students back into a classroom setting.

“Before this, I was just home all day, by myself, on the computer,” said 10-year old Riley. “And it’s not fun. If I had something I was stuck on, I had no one to ask help for.”

“I’m actually pretty excited because I will learn better,” said Maddie. She’s struggled to learn and absorb material through online-only learning.

A majority of HISD students will learn virtually for a little while longer. So, while Hopf is wrapping up her last week with these students, she’ll likely be offered another tutoring job soon.


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