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Who teaches in your Coop? Need help!


happyWImom
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We are part of a Coop with about 15 or so families that has grown rapidly. All of the moms participate, and either teach/co-teach a class, act as shepherds (in charge of each age group), etc.... It's worked well.

 

This year, our problem is our Jr. High age group. They do different classes than the younger grades-completely separate. The problem is, all of our moms are already commited to the rest of the group, but we still need to come up with classes & someone to teach them, for the Jr. High! We have a few possibilities for one day classes/presentations, but nothing long-term. I'm trying to find retired teachers, hs moms with older kids, etc..., but nothing so far. Does anyone utilize their local college, YMCA, hospital, etc.., and if so, HOW??

 

I am now the leader of our group (:eek:), but we've only been members for a year, and I am struggling, here.

 

Help-please!

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You have to make your resources(parents) stretch. If that means having less classes for the younger ages or less aides in classes, that is what you have to do. It is hard to find outside teachers, especially if you don't have the funds to pay them. A few ideas for stretching your parents is to combine a larger age span for classes like instead of having K-3, 4-6, 7-8, have K-4, 5-8. Make sure all parents are busy teaching/aiding during every class period. I have been on leadership for several coops and you have to make choices to cover everyones needs especially if you have an age inclusive, parent lead coop that you are trying to keep affordable. I could give you more insights to how we have done things at coops I have been involved in if I knew more about how you do things now. Feel free to PM me.

Joy

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At ours it is whoever volunteers to teach a class. When they were setting up the year this year, they sent out lots of emails saying things like: "We need more classes for the grade 3-5 set. Please pray about this and let us know," a lot. We do have an outside teacher for one class, so naturally that class costs a lot more than the others as those families have to teach his salary. The other older kids' classes are taught by parents with older children for the core classes. For the non core classes like art, history, etc. they are taught by whomever volunteers. They break up the aides (the rest of us who are not teaching or co-teaching) between all of the classes, regardless of the age. Although I am sure it is more important to have an extra aide in preschool or nursery, and that is accounted for.

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We have used several high school students to teach some elementary classes which then frees up a mom to teach a Jr. high class. This has been very successful. The younger kids adore the teenagers, and the teens are getting great experience along with volunteer hours, career exploration, and appreciation of the teaching process. ;) I usually have a mom help the teen with planning, and I approve the teaching plan. We require a syllabus from every teacher, so everyone knows what to expect.

 

We also hired a recent college grad to teach a Comp/Lit class for one year. She moved on to bigger and better things, but we enjoyed having her around for a year.

Edited by Leanna
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I agree with those above who said you need to use the resources you have.

The co-op I am in recently changed from requesting class topics/details, and trying to fill them into a schedule, to writing a schedule, and requesting the parents volunteer to teach something that fills a slot.

 

For example, (simplified, and off the top of my head, so please excuse the holes):

 

Period 1:

Gym K-4

Art 7-12

Science K-4

Social Studies 5-12

 

Period 2:

Gym 4-8

Art K-4

Science 7-12

Social Studies K-4

 

Period 3:

Gym 7-12

Art 4-7

Science 4-7

Social Studies K-4

Music/Drama K-4

 

This allows everyone to see that each age group is getting tended to, and to allow those who need to sign up for a class to teach, what some options are.

 

It's not the easiest transition, but I think it will work really well.

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Thanks for all of the replies so far; I really need the advice.

 

I think enlarging the age groups is something we might have to do, because one of the problems I've been having is that we have so many new families this year, with moms who don't want/feel they are capable of teaching, I'm running short on people.

 

I also like the idea of the high schoolers teaching a younger class.

 

Ugh-I wanted all of this to be figured out by the end of this month!

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You should be able to have 15 moms (and/or dads) who are primary teachers. You might have four age groups (nursery; K - 2; 3 - 5; 6 - 8) which should allow you to offer 3 to five classes per group. I would not count nursery as a primary responsibility (unless you have one mom in charge of that area), since it's often a show up and help situation, not a class with the preparation, teaching, and grading. In our co-op, we are responsible as primary teacher in one class and helper in another.

 

HTH,

Lisa

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I think enlarging the age groups is something we might have to do, because one of the problems I've been having is that we have so many new families this year, with moms who don't want/feel they are capable of teaching, I'm running short on people.

 

 

For this reason, we have started an interview process before admitting a new family. By definition, a CO-OP requires that everyone give something of value and receive something of value. This can't happen if you have a co-op full of moms that want to hide out in the nursery.

 

Teaching a class takes work, planning, preparation, and perseverance. A good co-op teacher will spend some time preparing to teach classes. Most homeschool moms can only afford this time if another teacher is also spending that same time and effort on different subjects, thereby relieving a homeschool teaching burden. Teachers are pouring themselves into their classes because they (at least in part) are hopeful that their children will benefit as other teacher/moms do the same. If everyone is not working together, and some families are riding on the coattails of others, the co-op will begin to disintegrate.

 

Here are some thoughts:

Reward moms that are willing to teach higher level classes. Require fewer classes taught, relieve them of cleaning duties, give them priority registration, waive their fees, etc.

 

Require more of "nursery only" moms. Let them do the cleaning, field trip planning, fund raising etc.

 

Divide your co-op in two groups. The older program may need to be a "drop and pay" so you can pay your teachers. Even if you have teachers willing to teach for free, you need families to pay something for classes or they will likely not respect the commitment. This is just human nature. People often don't value something when they don't have to pay for it.

 

As a co-op leader, I have been through many bumps in the road. We have come to a better place since I have realized one important factor. A co-op of academic classes is set up to be a place of education. Many families sign up for the classes, but their main goal is actually socialization - even for the moms. When I realized this goal discrepancy, it was a lightbulb moment. Our co-op wasn't working because the goals were hidden. Taking classes to meet socialization goals does not work. We tightened our academic standards and admittance requirements. We now have a co-op of committed families who come to co-op to meet academic goals. Socialization happens, but we don't make it the primary goal. We give priority to teachers who are teaching upper level classes, and we seek quality teachers when looking for new members.

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In our local co-op, they started that way (volunteer), but now they set prices for various classes, and pay the teachers. Moms who teach a lot come out financially ahead, moms who teach a class or so come out even, moms who drop off help fund everything.

 

Everyone has to clean twice a year, and everyone has to volunteer a certain number of hours each quarter (so many hours per class their dc are taking) - this includes things like monitoring the lunch room or study hall, and certain other logistical jobs.

 

The benefit of this is that moms who do teach can/will teach more than one class, the co-op gets gifted dedicated teachers, the teachers are rewarded for their work financially, and we typically retain good, experienced teachers even after their children have graduated.

 

The co-op is ten years old and thriving.

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