Costs to Hire a Teacher for Your Learning Pod

September 15, 2020

It’s trending just about everywhere. And whether you’re personally looking for an in-home teacher for your household — or to meet the needs of a learning-pod — it’s important to consider your overall needs so you can determine the type of teacher you’re looking for. Let’s be clear: teachers do more than academic instruction. And when you’re hiring one during a pandemic, trust us when we say their presence will be felt and appreciated.

First, let’s consider how the spring went for the majority of families trying to juggle remote work, while also playing teacher to their children attempting remote learning. Then, let’s consider the majority of families where the adults were considered mandated employees. In their homes, they were trying to juggle their work commitments, while for the most part hoping their children were able to complete their school assignments on their own. Either way — students being out of school was felt by every household, in every corner of the country. And now, as those same homes are trying to figure out how to make remote learning more successful than we saw it in the Spring of 2020, teachers are weighing the decisions to return to the classroom, or create one alongside families designing learning-pods.

Much like they do in full classrooms, teachers of learning pods provide the following:

  • Lead instruction
  • Management of the classroom and student behaviors
  • Social-emotional learning
  • Developmentally appropriate lessons and activities
  • Full, and small group facilitation
  • Enrichment and remedial lessons and activities
  • Socialization

But when you wrap this up into what most would consider a life-saver, it leads one to wonder: what’s it cost? And honestly, it depends. For most, it’s the time commitment that determines whether a person is full-time or part-time, but what many forget when thinking about their needs in a teacher, is the time outside of the classroom that teachers spend planning. And grading. Sharpening their skills. And meeting with colleagues for more, well, planning. So the short answer is this:

  • If you need someone to replace school — which means designing the curriculum and their daily lesson plans, you need a full-time teacher.
  • If you need someone for 30 or more hours a week — well, that’s full-time.
  • If you’re looking for someone to manage the virtual instruction of your school’s curriculum, and maybe plan a few enrichment activities — you can get away with hiring on a part-time basis.
  • If you just need someone to step in occasionally, or for a couple of hours each day — whether to do enrichment or remedial lessons, it’s less teacher and more tutor.

Compensation Considerations

In general, compensation will be will vary significantly state by state, city by city, and even district by district because of differing salary schedules.

At minimum, be prepared to be more (and likely, significantly more) than competitive (see below) with the average teaching salary in your area. Demand for teachers for learning pods is high and be prepared to be as competitive as you can to secure a great candidate quickly.

These are the primary considerations when determining a compensation rate per hour or an annual salary

  • Flexibility you desire (including hours per week): the greater flexibility you want, the more you can expect to pay per hour or as an annual salary. In general, the more consistent the contract, the more attractive it will be for the teacher.
  • Duration of arrangement: there is value for the teacher in longer working agreements. If the teacher is currently employed full-time, they are likely leaving an annual contract with benefits. Be prepared to increase compensation for shorter term arrangements.
  • Complexity of arrangement: various factors increase the complexity (and cost) of the arrangement - a few examples include: the wider the difference in grade levels or ages in children, the higher number of children, transportation to the extent there are multiple host families within the same pod.
  • Qualifications: If you're looking for a certified teacher (who typically has a master's degree in education) and in-classroom teaching experience, you'll pay more.
  • Required expertise or specialization: the more requirements you have (e.g., world language fluency, Montessori experience, special needs), the more you can expect to pay.
  • Local competition (aka supply and demand): ultimately, price will be dictated by supply of teachers in your area (highly variable) and demand from parents (likely significant).

To better understand each of these scenarios, let’s take a look at the breakdown of what you can expect when hiring for these roles:

Full-time Teacher

Again, at minimum, be prepared to be more than (and likely, significantly more) competitive with the average teaching salary in your area. Teacher salaries vary significantly state by state, city by city, and district by district because of differing salary schedules. Google around and you'll find salary schedules of school districts publicly available. (Here's an example from Newark Public Schools). Public school salaries are usually calculated based on years of teaching experience, education, and credentials received.

Why pay a premium to published or reported salaries?

  • Published salaries don't include full benefits or the loss of a pension if they leave
  • Published salaries reflect a duration for an academic year, not a full calendar year
  • Published salaries don't account for the "open market" of supply and demand, which will fully reflect the value of teachers (and it's definitely hired than published salaries)

Sure, there are many advantages for a teacher to work in a learning pod (e.g., they will likely be working with fewer students), but there are many things a teacher loses from when they decide to leave their school:

  • A team. They’re planning on their own, and they may be creating the curriculum from scratch. If they’ve taught before, they definitely have a place to start — but they won’t have a guide from a district, and they likely won’t have full textbooks.
  • Benefits and a pension. They’ll be covering the cost of healthcare (unless you have the means to provide this) and if they currently work for a district, they’re bound to lose their compensation bump (and a year toward retirement) by stepping out of the classroom for a year.
  • Additional preps. If they teach middle school — which is also the case for some upper elementary teachers who work departmentally — they’re used to planning for a subject or two, not all subjects, and very rarely are they planning for multiple grade levels. So for a school, they may be planning a 7th grade English lesson that they adapt to meet the needs of, say, three to five classes of students. Sure, that’s a lot more grading than they have to do for a pod of kids, but for a learning pod, the teacher is now the end all be all when it comes to lesson planning: every subject, each grade. 

Bottom line, no matter how many hours you need the teacher with your child(ren), their planning and grading is happening "after hours." So don’t forget to factor that in as you determine whether they are full or part time. 

Part-time Teacher

If you have determined that you really only need the skills of a teacher for less than 30 hours a week (all prep, lesson planning, and grading included), you can consider sourcing for teachers willing to work at a part-time rate.

It's not as simple as prorating an expected annual salary to a per-hour basis because of the additional flexibility you're requiring and the likelihood that the teacher will trying to piece together multiple part-time arrangements. You will almost certainly be paying a significant premium to what would a simple, prorated rate of the expected annual salary.

Do your research, and don’t come in under market value. Remember, as with anything, you get what you pay for.

Tutor

If you think you only need 10 hours of support of less for your children each week, consider hiring a teacher as a tutor. If the hours can be completed in the late afternoons, evenings, or on the weekends, there’s a good chance of finding very strong candidates already employed full-time for a school or another family. This also cuts the costs down drastically for you and your own family, because the teacher is doing this to supplement their income — not as their income.

Now, whether you hire a teacher part-time, or as a tutor, keep in mind that the reduced hours may require you to be more flexible as you source for candidates. And the more flexible you can be, the more likely it is that your pool of strong candidates increases. Consider your needs, consider your goals, and get set for a year of academic progress (and an increase in sanity all around).

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