Eager to develop a “side hustle” during unemployment, Britt Canner has since launched a new business model intended to help families navigate online schooling and home school during these unprecedented times.
She calls herself an alternative education consultant, “who also does so much more.” Offering guidance for families who feel returning to a brick-and-mortar school in the fall isn’t right for them, her services include family consults, providing remote support like daily check-ins and virtual morning meetings, and pairing home school “pods” with teachers who may not be returning to school buildings. She also has experience in curriculum building, and researching various online schooling models.
“I’m just trying to get creative in a virtual word,” said Canner, 34, who lives in Portsmouth. “I think homeschooling and online schooling are going to be pretty popular going forward until there is a cure for this because families are scared.”
This week, the New York Times reported parents around the country – who can afford to do so – are organizing “pandemic pods” or “nano-schools” for the fall, where a small group of students learn together remotely with the help of a hired teacher or tutor. According to the Los Angeles Times, with most schools in California closed for the foreseeable future, families are “rushing to hire tutors and teachers to augment distance learning with children individually or in small groups.”
Canner said she’s had many families reach out since she started advertising her website on social media this month.
“I have never seen so many families interested in this. It’s overwhelming,” she said. “The families that have reached out to me, they’re really nervous about having their kids be in a school with the potential of this virus to spread. There’s so much unknown, so families are really trying to have a backup plan until they know the exact plan.”
Canner said teachers returning to school in the fall are “risking their lives essentially. I’m worried for them very much so. They are heroes.”
For the parents’ who decide their kids won’t go back to school buildings, Canner said, “it’s really tough (in a virtual setting) to replicate a morning meeting, that kind of responsive interaction and socializing, especially with young kids in those developmental years.”
That’s where her services come in. She also hopes to help parents who are working full-time navigate the many options of online schooling. The “on-boarding process,” she said, can be a lot for parents whose work days are the same hours as a school day.
“I’m really just trying to meet their needs and support as best I can in a remote setting,” Canner said.
For every family that wants that remote support in virtual learning, there are families who want to hire a home school teacher, she said. For that reason, Canner has been working to build a network of teachers she knows who might be interested in those opportunities.
Britt Canner is serving as a behing-the-scenes mastermind behind lots of moving parts when it comes to building relationships between teachers and students during the pandemic. I found her small-scale influence on a huge issue to be really insightful and an inspiration to adapt similar systems in a large-scale way. This system of home “pandemic pods” or “nano-schools” can be easily achievable for families with the financial flexibility to do so, but what about those who don’t? I think creating resources for overwhelmed parents, students, and teachers to connect is vital for the success of a potentially long-term crisis. But, how can we make it even more accessible to families of all socio-economic status?