Caught in the Education-Care Crosshairs

Behind Bundle! Behind Bundle gives our audience a peek at the inner workings here at Bundle. We are pulling back the curtain and giving you a transparent and unfiltered look at what goes into leading a carevolution and what it takes to spearhead a much-needed business transformation. In our podcast, you’ll hear from our team and other experts in the fields of education, care, industry, and academics to gain insights on what we need to do to drive this care transformation.

Listen to our Curriculum Development Lead, Mattie Shulman, as she provides guidance for parents on how to ease back to school stress for their families while ensuing their children succeed, get pointers on pod learning, and learn what to look for in ‘Zutors’.

Listen here.


Kayla: Thank you for joining us as we get Behind Bundle to see how they're breaking down barriers. Joining us today we have Mattie Schulman who is Bundle’s curriculum development lead. She received her certification from Teacher’s College at Columbia University with a dual degree in general education and special education. She has experienced both teaching and developing curriculum for kindergarten through 5th grade. Welcome Mattie.

Mattie: Thank you for having me.

Kayla: Today we're going to talk about a topic that has many parents on edge - the looming school year that for some is just weeks away or might have even already started. Mattie, many parents rely on school to provide more than learning for their children. They also use it to feed their children during the day or as a care alternative while they're working. And this whole COVID-19 situation has parents up in arms as they struggle for care for their kids. it's adding tons of stress on them as they need to adapt and seek out alternative solutions. What do you see as the biggest challenge working parents will face this next year as they now need to take on the role of teacher at home? And what advice can you provide parents on how to handle being forced into these new roles when they never wanted to?

Mattie: So, I think that one of the biggest issues that parents will face is realizing that the way they were taught certain subjects, especially math, is not the way that they're taught anymore. and you have to get used to your child saying, “this is not how I'm learning it; this is not how you're supposed to do it.” And I think for parents it can be really frustrating have to take on that additional role. So, I think that you just have to be very patient with your child and realize that they are handling this new situation just like you are. And I think my biggest piece of advice is to rely on the teacher as a resource. Usually during the school day, the teacher notices all these things about your child and how they're learning, but right now they're not going to be with your child every day so they're not going to be noticing those same things that you are noticing. So, if you see something your child is doing or something that they're not getting, don't be afraid to reach out to the teacher and tell them what you're realizing. Use the teacher as a resource. They can’t help you if they don't know what's going on at home.

Kayla: And what do you think are the most important things parents should be on the lookout when they're working with children? Like what are those things that they should be noticing and taking note of to tell teachers?

Mattie: Obviously if there is anything that a child really isn't getting or something that they're really frustrated about. For example, if they're doing a math problem and it way longer than it should, maybe there's just something that's not clicking that you can tell the teacher. Then the teacher will explain to the child in a different way. So things that are really frustrating your child, and then also things that they're really enjoying and finding really interesting because those can be things that the teacher can connect with your child about and use it to engage them in other materials and other subjects.

Kayla: How do you think teachers will be able to manage all this 'cause this is something they're not used to doing? You know, they were used to doing it in the classroom and not as much after, how do you think teachers will be able to manage and balance all of different children's needs?

Mattie: I mean I think teachers are really amazing in that they’re always balancing many different student needs. This is just a little bit of a different format, and the good thing is that most teachers had the whole entire summer to prepare for some sort of remote learning experience. So, we had this spring as kind of a trial run and now everyone is ready to go full steam ahead. But this is still a weird time and I think everyone needs to be understanding of each other. Parents need to be understanding of teachers and teachers need to be understanding of parent and the children. This is a weird time, don't be worried that your kid is going to fall behind, everyone's in the same boat.

Kayla: No, I completely agree, and I think this is a time that we really have to be flexible and understanding and really have patience during this time. So that’s really, really some insightful advice. So, as parents scramble to supplement learning and care for their kids we've seen a rise of the Zooters, Zoom tutors cropping up everywhere, and it's getting more controversy as the virtual school year looms. What are your thoughts on virtual tutoring and what should our parents be on the lookout for?

Mattie: So, I think just like any in person tutor, there are good ones and there are bad ones. Just like the same for Zooters. But what you need to be on the lookout for is if your child is engaged. If they're not engaged with the tutor, they are not going to be absorbing the information or learning. And unfortunately, a lot of tutors are just going over homework or doing rote memorization that your child is not going to be engaged with. Your child is probably already on the computer on Zoom with their class for a good portion of the day. You don't want to put them on Zoom for an extra hour of something that's not engaging. So, when you're looking for Zoom tutors, make sure that the content is really engaging, that they're teaching it in a way that your child is excited about and that you can see that they're really bringing over to their schoolwork. Kayla: How do you think parents can assess those tutors? Do you think they need to be on the 1st session? Like how do you think they can go about really assessing the quality of their tutors?

Mattie: Kids are honest. Ask your kid “what do you think about that?” and I guarantee your kid will tell you in a second - “I liked it, I hated it, it was boring.” I'd even see some seen some kids just shut their computers when they're bored.

Kayla: Kids definitely do not have any filter and that's why we love them. *laughs* So, parents are getting desperate as help is hard to find and are building out home learning pods where kids move from house to house each day and parents divide up care and school responsibilities because they can't look after after their children while they work and some are also doing this virtually as well. What guidance do you have her parents on pod based learning?

Mattie: So obviously I've never taught a pod myself, but what this does remind me of is small group sessions in, during the school day where you either pair students based on where they’re at ability wise or different interests, things like that. But something about these small groups that's really important is that they’re fluid and they're not fixed. And the learning pod is fixed. you are going to be with the same amount of people and the same students every single day.

Kayla: Which is different than small groups.

Mattie: Which is different than small groups because those are flexible and they’re fluid. If you're really excelling at a subject maybe, you'll move into a different group. But with these learning pods, my fear is that students are going to be constantly comparing themselves to the other children in the group, and they're going to be basing their performance and their ability based off of the other children. And this can get really dangerous because you want your student and your child have this growth mindset. Where they can see how far they’ve come and that's how they measure their progress. But if they're measuring their progress against other students who have different abilities it can be really hard for your child and hard for their self-confidence, and this is a time when self-confidence is really important. So, I think that there definitely needs to be some sort of social emotional learning component to the learning pods, even though everyone is trying so hard to fit in the curriculum and the content. Especially this fear that we're falling behind. You can’t forget about the social and emotional learning that happens in the classroom and needs to happen in these learning pods too. And that's something where you need to make sure that the teachers who are teaching these learning pods are super aware and super on top of because just like you want your child to love going to school every day, you want them to love these learning pods too. There's way more that goes into the school day then just math and ELA.

Kayla: And, do you think there is a big difference between the pod learning in-person versus all virtual? Do you expect to see differences there, are different advantages and disadvantages with the virtual versus in home. And what's your thoughts there?

Mattie: I always think that in person is obviously more beneficial just because the scale is that a student learns in the classroom is far more than what can be learned over Zoom. So, a lot of that is problem solving skills, how to resolve conflict, comfort a friend when they're upset. And those things all happen much more naturally when you're in person versus when you're on zoom. Some of those things are harder to communicate and it's also harder for students to feel comfortable having natural and normal conversation over zoom. I saw in the spring that a lot of my chattier students were silent on zoom. A d they didn't know how to talk to each other or socialize anymore and you want that natural conversation to happen.

Kayla: Do you think that's possible over Zoom though? Do you think in smaller groups of let's say two to four children with a teacher or instructor who's really focused on looking for that, those signs and really trying to engage them? Do you think it's possible that on virtual, it might not be exactly the same as in person, but there are, there could be some benefits there?

Mattie: Yes, I definitely think so. I think that the teacher really needs to focus on building community. And you can build community any - anywhere. Look online. There are so many forums where people feel like they're part of this community. But unfortunately, in the spring, I saw a lot of that being thrown to the wayside because of this fear of being behind. And usually the 1st four to six weeks of through all the teachers spend a large majority of the time building community. And so my hope is that even if things are remote and even if the whole entire school year is remote, the teacher will still spend that same amount of time building community.

Kayla: And I think you're right. I think there was a bit of a scramble going on in the spring and now teachers about time to really prep for the school year in a different way, so I think they'll be more prepared to start the year off in that way, more aware.

Mattie: But I think also the students will be more aware. this was a big shock for most of our kids and I think now they're coming to terms with what their school year is going to look like too.

Kayla: Mattie I think our parents will find that information very valuable as they prepare for the school year ahead. thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Mattie: Thank you for having me.

Kayla: Join us next time on behind bundle as we talk about companies that are leaning into the new education and care model and hear what their employees think and the positive impact on their business.

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