Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Language Arts will be organized into teams called pods. Each team of teachers will have two pods, a morning pod, and an afternoon pod. Students will be assigned to each pod and rotate through the pod classes with roughly the same students. Each pod will have roughly 90 students.
The pod system is set up to provide students with a home-base, or community of students, as well as a core of teachers to supervise and work closely with these students. In 6th grade everyone is new, and everyone is learning a secondary school model (class changes, lockers, lots of teachers, etc.). In 7th grade, students are still getting to know new friends and classmates, as well as still getting used to secondary school. Within the pod, teachers may explicitly teach some organizational skills, communication skills, and general study skills. Pods are a type of home base where teacher help monitor students grades in all classes and offer help.
Teachers should design activities to promote a sense of community, togetherness, and kindness within their pods. Teachers should encourage a feeling of “team” within the pod where no one is left out. Students will connect with members of the pod as friends and teammates. A sense that everyone is known and belongs should be a priority in the pod. Pod teachers should create time to make sure these priorities are accomplished either in-class time or during reteach/enrichment. The pod is for kids!
Pod teachers will have a common prep period. This provides limitless opportunities for cross-curricular collaboration and especially targeted intervention. Teachers should work together to tailor their teaching to their students’ needs within the three periods of the pod. There are possibilities for switching kids, extending the amount of time in a given class, or carrying out projects or assignments that extend across curriculums. The block of three periods belongs to the pod, and when we are creative in our structuring of the pod, the potential to help students learn and feel connected is endless.