Pop into a Facebook parent group these days and you might see messages like, "Looking for a certified teacher who can privately tutor two twin 8-year-olds," or, "I'm looking for a homeschooling tutor for my kindergarten daughter or considering starting a pod for a small group of kids."
As the school year kicks into gear even as the coronavirus pandemic persists, parents are trying to balance the dangers of exposure to the virus and the importance of their children's education. Among the solutions for those who can afford it: Hiring private teachers and tutors to help kids at their homes.
"I think parents are honestly making this up as they go along," says Dina Bolan, a third grade teacher in Bergen County, New Jersey, who's been helping hundreds of parents navigate such education set ups via her Facebook group, Resources & Support: School Year '20-'21 Northern NJ. What's required of and from teaching gigs can vary by school district and family, she says.
If you're considering picking up in-person teaching or tutoring as a job or side hustle, here's what you need to know, according to Bolan.
Although some parents may be looking for one-on-one help for their kids, many are forming "pods," or groups of children who will be learning together.
A pod typically consists of two to four kids, "maybe six [kids] at the very most," says Bolan. The idea, she adds, is to let kids "at least socialize on some level," even if they can't be in school.
Some pods might be mixed ages, depending on the parents' needs. "Maybe it's a parent who's dealing with a situation where they have a kindergarten and a second grader, and so they're going to join up with another kindergarten and second grader," she says. Others will be groups of kids of the same age, like several children from the same fourth grade class.
Depending on the situation, a parent may be looking for:
- An educator to help kids with their virtual learning, monitoring them as they participate in lessons and assisting with homework if they need it
- A homeschooling teacher who can implement a full curriculum and replace school altogether
- A tutor to help kids with one or two specific subjects
Make sure you and the parents are clear about which role you would play and what exactly your responsibilities would be.
A teacher or tutor helping kids navigate virtual learning would follow that school district's schedule. Those schedules are, in many cases, still being determined or in flux: Some schools are going fully remote and others are embracing a hybrid model. Some students need to tune into lessons live while others will have flexibility to do work on their own time.
"A teacher might want to become familiar with whatever the setup this district has put forth for virtual learning," says Bolan. Most parents are asking for teachers in these positions to work from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., she says.
Teachers taking on the home-schooling model would need to provide four hours of education every day, but "in that case it would be very flexible," says Bolan: The hours could be 10 a.m. to noon and then 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., for example, if that's what works best.
And tutors would likely help a kid for just 1-2 hours per lesson outside of the virtual learning hours.
Depending on the parent and position, certain qualifications may be necessary. "For the pod, I would say you'd need the least amount of experience," says Bolan. "Maybe just a teaching certificate. Even a teacher's assistant could take on a job like that."
An educator taking charge of a full home-schooling curriculum would need both a state-approved teaching certificate and several years of experience teaching in a classroom. They'd need to have an idea of "whatever curriculum that school district uses," she says.
Tutors working with elementary school kids may need to have in-classroom teaching experience. Those working with older kids might simply need relevant educational experience, such as a bachelor's degree in biology if they're tutoring a child in science.
Both home-schooling teachers and tutors could ask for, and should be able to get, around $60 per hour, says Bolan.
Payment for those helping kids with their virtual learning can get a bit trickier. "There's so many factors to consider," says Bolan. "How many children are in the pod? Do any of the children have special needs? Is the family asking the educator to do some child-care work as well?"
These types of educators typically get between $4,000 and $6,000 per month, she says.
Whatever the payment, Bolan recommends all teachers have a formal contract with parents. "A lot of parents are looking to get out of this situation if school goes back in person," she says. "You'll be out of a job unless you have a contract." She recommends using a service like Rocket Lawyer to draw up the paperwork.
Another reason it's good to have a contract: It could cover issues like getting blamed if a child contracts Covid-19. "You just want to protect yourself because you're going into someone else's home," she says.
As a safety precaution on the job, Bolan says, a lot of parents are having sessions take place outside in backyards or parks, for example, where there's a lower risk of transmission. She recommends checking out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) guidelines for protecting yourself and reading the CDC guidelines for schools to see if any of their measures can or should be adopted.
Lots of these postings can be found on social media. "The best way that I found is joining a local moms group," says Bolan. "Every mom on every mom group all over Facebook seems to be looking for this."
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