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Things that make your life as a Co-op Teacher... easier

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Hey There,


In wanting to keep Teachers/Tutors from getting burned out.... what makes a Teacher/Tutor's life easier? What does the leader do for you that makes your life go "awwwwwww" instead of "uggggghhhh"?

Chocolate? Coffee? Gifts? Time off?

What's the longest time, at once, that y'all have tutored/taught? (As in how many years in a row...)

What made the difference?

What made it hard?...


Just talk to me!!

What can I do to make it better!!


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What makes it hard is parents who don't make sure their children do any homework in preparation for the next week; who don't even show their children the emails you send of things for them to read, look at online, etc.; who don't help their children prepare for tests, etc.


It also makes it hard when you clearly state parameters for a class and then parents put children into the class who can not attend for the length of time of the class, who are completely disinterested in the subject, and/or who cannot read or write (if that's a necessary component of the class).


Assistants who truly assist, helping to keep order in the classroom, if nothing else, are a great help (they also provide backup for teachers so that no false accusations could ever be made against them).


If teachers are organized enough to know ahead of time when they'll need copies made, things cut out, etc., etc. then getting some other helper to prepare and make those things available for them would be a help. But the things need to be there when they need them (so some may not trust others to do those things for them).


If classes are being offered in an open area, or parents are staying for class, chatting while class is ongoing can be very distracting for the instructor! Parents need to take their conversations elsewhere. Ditto for parents who have little children with them, who are playing on the periphery of the class....


I'm sure that some show of appreciation every couple of months or so (if classes are long-term) would go a long way toward shoring up morale!


I've never taught classes that lasted all year long. I've only taught classes during three different school years. Two of those were together and then I stopped doing coops. I've taught several free-standing courses, just on my own. Most of the classes I've done have been 8-10 weeks. I've never taught to children younger than about third grade save for once. I just don't really have the time to school my own child and adequately school others, as well....

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Making sure your student is well-prepared and willing to participate is huge. Taking the time to prepare gets old FAST if kids aren't engaged.


Does she have a TA? Are you the TA, or just an interested parent? If you're in the class, just watch her to see what it seems like she needs help with. Pass out papers, help kids who need help, etc. Don't be afraid to participate and ask questions if you think something isn't clear--many times my TAs have asked questions that the kids were afraid to ask themselves.


While I never turn down chocolate, coffee, flowers, etc., the best tokens of appreciation have been notes from the kids expressing gratitude for what they've learned in class. A heartfelt "thank you" makes it worth all the time and effort.


If she's a homeschooling parent, encourage her in her own homeschooling endeavors.


This is my 3rd year teaching. In our co-op, teaching 2-3 full classes means that my kids are basically going for free, but I teach because I love it. We have a great group of parents and kids and they are a delight to serve. But co-op teaching is a labor of love as well as a way to make sure my kids have some of the group education situations that I want them to have. I'm currently in a situation where one of my TAs likes to offer advice and has tried to take my class in a different direction a few times. I'm hoping that I've held my ground well enough that she'll back off...otherwise I'll need to talk to her.


Let's see...I think as long as you're voicing your appreciation and encouraging your child to do the same, and he/she is coming prepared and is an enthusiastic participant, you are probably doing exactly what the teacher needs. Again, she's probably doing this either for her own kids or just because she loves teaching, not because she's getting rich off of teaching, but anything you do to express appreciation will encourage her to keep going.

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I worked in a co-op teaching high school sciences, junior high science, and high school Great Books. I did this for 8 years. This was a "free" co-op in which all the moms were required to "do something". Some of us routinely did more than others. I opted out this year for a variety of reasons:


1. parents/students who are really not interested in doing well. This included not reading the assignments, turning in poorly written papers (obviously no input from mom at home), neglecting to study for exams because the family was going out of town or they had other "more important" activities "after all, you know we homeschool so that we can be close as a family".


2. little regard for my "outside co-op" time. I don't want to offer make up tests or extra study sessions because your student did poorly on the test, I don't want to grade essays that are turned in late because you had better things to do with your time, I don't want to teach your student just so you don't have to...but you seem to find the time to garden, decorate your home, earn a degree online, etc. because I'm doing your job. I spent an average of 20 hours per week just on my co-op classes. One day I finally looked at my house and commented, "I've never lived in a house this dirty or messy - what is going on?". I realized that in making co-op a priority, I was neglecting my home and family. In a free co-op there was no incentive for me to continue living like that. There really should have been some way to even out the burden...but no one volunteered to clean my house ;)


3. hearing the whining of the other moms, who do little or nothing in the co-op, saying that they are just so tired of homeschooling...and they really don't have the time to help out on the things co-op needs. This was the big one this year! I was doing the majority of the teaching - and these were hard courses. And some of the moms kept complaining *to me* about how much time co-op was consuming and they just wanted to be able to drop their kiddos off...well, who wouldn't like that!!!?!!!?


4. I guess I was basically feeling unappreciated and realized that I was allowing these moms to take advantage of me. So...it was my fault for staying. I have no one to blame but myself - and I took steps this fall to remedy the situation :-). I am amazed at how much better I feel this year.


FYI: I loved the classes I taught, I loved the idea of teaching the classes, I enjoyed preparing for the classes. But when I finally realized that few really cared how well the class was taught and just wanted to be able to write it on the transcript, well, I became totally disillusioned and realized that I was facilitating bad behavior. And, to be fair, each year was a bit different. Some years the students really did try, other years they did not. Some years the moms were helpful, other years they were not. So I wouldn't say it was all bad. In fact, the good outweighs the bad in my case. But with other family pressures, it was time for me to step aside.

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1. We don't require people to teach, but we do ask those with a gift or love of teaching to consider helping us out by teaching. We also allow them to teach what they want, and how. The classes we offer always depend on what people have stepped up and said they would like to teach.


2. We ask teachers to give clear expectations of what will be required in their class, so no one is surprised by homework (or lack of). If a class does not meet the parents expectation in the description, we ask them to not sign their child up for that class.


3. We suggest that classroom assistants be the first choice when seeking a substitute, not teachers (who already go above & beyond).


4. We recognize each teacher at the end of every year with a handmade card and a gift card from the group. As a parent, I also thank each of my children's teachers individually with a small gift.


5. When it's time to register for classes, teachers get to go first. This may be the biggest perk of all, since it means they almost always get their kids in the classes they want.

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5. When it's time to register for classes, teachers get to go first. This may be the biggest perk of all, since it means they almost always get their kids in the classes they want.


What a great idea. That would have worked great for my old co-op. So many moms wanted the benefit, but didn't want to teach a class. They wanted to work in the nursery and hold the babies. :tongue_smilie:

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I've taught co-op classes for the past 5 years.


Things that are a discouragement:


-Parents who complain about a book or program being too expensive and push for something cheaper. What they don't realize is that while they may be saving $30, they are increasing my workload by several hours per week to make up for the cheaper resource.


-Families who don't do their cleaning jobs. Guess who is usually last to leave? Guess whose children are always left emptying the garbage?


-Students who call or email me without asking their parents the questions first. Many times any adult can answer their questions; the teacher does not hold all the answers in a secret book.


-Parents who want me to parent for them. Don't tell me to punish your child when I have come to YOU to take care of a discipline issue.


-Parents who complain about the academic load, and are sure they want their children to attend college and get a scholarship, but are also just as certain that I am working them too hard.



Things that have lightened my burden:


-Parents who have offered to grade the objective parts of my tests.


_Parents who offer to make copies, collate tests, or do any task that just makes me busy, but doesn't require knowledge of the class.


-Parents who take constructive criticism about their children, act on it, and don't take it as a personal attack.


-Notes, verbal thanks, polite behavior, and excited class participation are the best thanks I can receive.


-One family gave us a gift card to a restaurant. The attached note stated that they realized I sacrifice a lot of time outside the classroom to prepare for my classes. This really touched me because it rewarded my husband as well. After all,he's the one that has to pick up the slack when I'm preparing for class.



Things that have helped our co-op run more smoothly:


-A vision statement and statement of purpose. This helps to reorient us when an idea is introduced which takes us away from our purpose.


-A Code of Conduct. We have one for students and one for parents/teachers. It clearly states the responsibilities for each.


-An interview prior to co-op membership. Because our co-op is small, we really need to make sure that the students will fit into the classes academically. We also need to make sure that parents and students understand the expectations.


-We have learned not to offer classes if no one wants to teach them. This year no one wanted to teach middle school science. We dropped it and put Logic in its place. Classes don't go well when the teacher does not enjoy the subject and dreads the class.

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