Guide for Parents
Let’s be real: none of us were expecting to be searching for a teacher to come into our homes in the midst of a pandemic and support our children’s learning and development, yet here we are. The Swing team - particularly those of us who are parents - have put together these tips to help you navigate finding the best teacher for your family and pod:
Recognize your context and resulting assumptions.
We are all a mix of our upbringing, family dynamics, relationships and experiences. To paraphrase Psychology Today, we therefore bring all sorts of cognitive biases to our parental decision-making. Confirmation bias and belief perseverance are particularly strong and it’s hard for us to shake them overnight, but it is both wise and healthy to question our assumptions: What’s my mental image of an ideal teacher and why? If I prefer a teacher of a certain gender, age, race, educational background, etc. why is that? Asking yourself, your partner and other pod parents these questions with a self-critical eye and open mind is a great initial step.
You’re not screening for your next direct report at work!
The pandemic has made it more and more difficult for all of us to separate our professional and personal selves. As such, it’s more important than ever to keep in mind that we are NOT interviewing and selecting our next direct report or professional colleague. The characteristics that might predict success for a new co-worker (i.e. “decisive, fails fast, drives results, customer-obsessed”) are not likely to be the factors that make for a successful teacher of your kids and the students in your pod (i.e. “patient, builds routine, values creativity and play, sets clear rules and structure”). Keep in mind that a teacher that “presents well” to students may have less experience and comfort interviewing with parents. We’ve shared example interview questions to help you draw some of these different competencies out.
Consider multiple types of progress, growth and development for your students
The vast majority of the hundreds of parents we have talked to in the past weeks proactively recognized that academic progress is only a small part of the puzzle. An equal or even greater desired outcome for these pods is for our students to make gains and develop on a socio-emotional level. This should open up important criteria that may run counter to our initial thinking or challenge our biases: Does this prospective teacher come from a background, have experiences or present a perspective that will help my student grow as a social being and global citizen? Does this instructor help children in the pod relate and connect better to people who are different from them?
There are many benefits to exposing students to greater diversity.
A subject recently at the top of parents’ and educators’ minds is reducing racial and other bias in their students. There is a growing body of research from Berkeley, UCLA and many other institutions that exposure to greater diversity in school and learning environments is correlated to multiple benefits and advantages for students, ranging from greater academic accomplishment, to higher feelings of safety and emotional well-being and lower feelings of bullying, exclusion and loneliness. These studies support what many of us already understand: we’re raising our kids in a world and during a time when it’s more important than ever that they’re equipped to seek out, navigate and build relationships across race, cultural, socio-economic and other differences. Could that exposure to diversity start or continue, in part, with your pod teacher? Could it extend to other students you invite or include in your pod?
We are proud of the incredible diversity represented by our Swing teachers in terms of ethnicity, gender, age, school type and their motivations for becoming educators: they are a unique, talented and experienced group, over 60% of whom teach in 5 or more schools, in a given month, during a “normal” school year.
The team at Swing has years of experience recruiting and matching our educators to thousands of classrooms across the country and we are excited to partner with you on this process. In the busyness of the weeks leading up to the Fall, our hope is that you’ll trust and lean on that experience, keep an open mind, and reflect on the guidance above, as you consider and interview the pod teachers we match for you.
About Bubbles by Swing Education
Bubbles by Swing Education will match parents with a qualified, experienced K-12 teacher to provide in-home education for a learning pod of two to eight students. Founded in 2015, Swing Education provides educators for K-12 schools. The company comprehensively recruits, screens, and prepares educators to fill teacher and support staff absences. To date, Swing Education has helped more than 2,500 school partners and over 5 million students. To learn more about Swing Education, visit www.swingeducation.com.