Innovating in the Midst of a Crisis: Learning Pods
Michelle Taylor, United Way of Delaware
When the pandemic forced closure of in-person instruction in Delaware, school systems shifted to virtual education. But for many children in the state’s eight highest need communities where less than 30% of third graders were reading at grade level before the pandemic, virtual instruction presented as many barriers as opportunities. Parents could not afford to stay home to supervise their students, and most had neither computers nor internet access.
United Way of Delaware (UWDE) and the Delaware Racial Justice Collaborative (DRJC) pivoted quickly to partner with 21 community-based organizations and most of the state’s school districts to form The Delaware Learning Pod Collaborative. Rooted in the principles of collective impact, the Collaborative built on existing infrastructure to establish and/or support 27 learning pods as safe, supervised neighborhood learning centers where students could access virtual instruction, and where students and their families could address social, emotional and other issues.
This session will offer a pragmatic approach to developing a collective impact framework to align key stakeholders to create and implement community-specific action plans to replicate a learning pod experience and will present results and relevant data from the Learning Pod Collaborative experience. Participants will also engage in a hands-on exercise that illuminates how trauma impacts a child’s ability to learn and will learn ways to overcome these challenges.