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BakersDozen

co-op vent...yes, again

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I vented months ago regarding my high school co-op classes. Issues are: Students not completing their work, parents not involved/caring, etc. I put in easily 1.5 hours per subject per day for 3 classes and have told my students that if I do the work then I expect them to as well. I've had students tell me they can't be at class for whatever reason minutes before class time begins. I've sent emails and letters. I've rearranged the syllabus and taken into consideration busy schedules/conflicts. I've admonished and "scolded". Today when half my history class had not watched the 2 movies I assigned I excused them from the class...for good. I'm done.

I don't understand the mentality behind these students or their parents. One mom scheduled an appointment for her daughter during class time but it wasn't during the girl's college class time, just my co-op time. The girl asked when I would be able to meet later in the week to make up the work and I told her I'm not available. She wasn't sick, there was no emergency, so I'm not giving up even more of my time for those who do not respect my time in the first place.

I live in a state with zero regulations on home schooling and honestly, I don't know that I agree with that anymore. I would like to see one rule that classes need to be signed off by the teacher. So if my students don't pass their U.S. History class then I sign a paper stating that and the parents have to include that on their student's transcript or whatever.

I'm so angry I'm fighting tears. I watch other students bust their butts doing the work and I love the discussion we have...if the students have done their work leading up to class day. I love teaching - nothing makes me feel more invigorated or alive than leading a class. But I feel so angry and disappointed in these students.

I can't vent on FB (nor would I) as the parents are on my friend list so thanks for allowing me to vent here.

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Yeah, I'm having trouble with that, too, with an English class I teach.  Ironically, the younger kids (who I didn't want to include, but did) are doing better at completing everything and discussing than some of the older kids. 

 

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Wow...I realize you are venting, but I hope you rethink your position.  I am adamantly opposed to what you suggest. Period. I don't want to be forced to have ANY outside teachers if I don't want to. What you are proposing puts completely unregulated co-ops in an actual legal "school" designation. They aren't. Parents should recognize that from all directions. Co-ops are unregulated entities that have no actual weight.

I am sorry you are dealing with this, but it seems to me that rather than think legally about restricting parental homeschool rights that you should tell parents that only students who do the work and show up to class are welcome and expel the other kids from your class.  Why acccept students who don't do the work? You aren't legally required to provide them an education like a ps classroom.

Or set up a private class where you get to invite only those you want to participate.

Fwiw, just like teachers in schools who see kids who return to school bc homeschooling didn't work and think that therefore homeschooling doesn't work, parents who opt to put their kids in co-op classes equally self-filter and are not representative of all homeschoolers. And absolutely there are going to be academic families and non-academic families in all educational scenarios.  Public school teachers face the same scenario daily and are often restricted from failing their students bc it brings down their school's  rating.

And, egads, if you saw what qualifies as college level classes at our local CC, you'd be floored. I expect more from my 7th grader!

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I also have another thought.  I did not teach last year.  My dd is *very* independent.  She wanted her co-op class to be her thing.  I did my best to stay on top of what was due and if she had done it, but (mostly bc the teacher also didn't communicate well), it was sometimes difficult.  I chose not to pull the "you need to tell me everything" card (which I totally could have) and let it be hers.  I saw the teacher weekly and hope she would have told me if dd wasn't doing what she should have done.  It was my first view into how that could happen (kids not do the work/parents not know.)  We are fairly structured at home and have high expectations. It was harder to manage that with a co-op class.

With my class, it is possible some parents think that some of the assigned work is "busy work" and they just want to have the kids discuss the books so they've cut that part.  Since I don't see a lot of them, I don't know and it's frustrating.  I'm thinking of sending out an e-mail that says bring in your novel notebook and show it to me so I know you've actually downloaded it.  Have your mother e-mail me if she has made it optional.

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I wish I could charge more and give money back to parents if their students come to class prepared. 

I have one cute kid who never has pencil or paper or his homework or really anything at all. He is a smart kid, and it is a shame he is barely passing. He asked if I could come to his house and get him organized. 

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My kids started attending a middle/high school co-op this year (really it's a tutorial, but it's parent run, though most of the teachers are hired) where homework is explicitly never required. In some ways, it's fine - the teachers concentrate the teaching into the time in class, the homework isn't required for the next class to proceed, even if students really need it to get the most out of the class. I have deeply mixed feelings about this model. I feel like it's fine for us - my kids do the homework and we treat the classes like enrichment. We're only there once a week. I'm just giving the kids half a credit for each thing - with the homework and a few small extras thrown it, it seems fair. All our core subjects are at home or through other sources. But some families attend multiple days a week and treat it like it's all of school. I don't know how much those families are getting out of a model like that. Some subjects just need kids to do sustained work and build skills or it's not going to amount to much.

Edited by Farrar
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About the girl with the appointment- it may have been what she could get. And honestly, I would choose your class over missing a college class. Especially, if it was a specialist who sees certain things during certain times ( DS has one who does this for certain issues for establish patients).  

Edited by itsheresomewhere
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7 minutes ago, itsheresomewhere said:

About the girl with the appointment- it may have been what she could get. And honestly, I would choose your class over missing a college class. Especially, if it was a specialist who sees certain things during certain times ( DS has one who does this for certain issues for establish patients).  

Agreed.  I have a dd with numerous serious health issues.  When it comes to getting appts, sometimes we can only get what we can get when those appts are scheduled 3-6 months ahead of time.  

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4 hours ago, itsheresomewhere said:

About the girl with the appointment- it may have been what she could get. And honestly, I would choose your class over missing a college class. Especially, if it was a specialist who sees certain things during certain times ( DS has one who does this for certain issues for establish patients).  

Her mom forgot about my class. The girl said the appointment was made 2 months ago so I pointed out that we started class in August...not like it's a new thing in their schedule.

8FilltheHeart...you are right about not wanting regulation. When I get to the point of frustration I am I guess I am desperate for something...anything that would jolt the parents in my area into doing more for their children's schooling. This area is so relaxed it's to the point of ridiculous. I am tired of excuses. I hand out a syllabus on the first day of class so everyone knows exactly what is expected down to the page numbers assigned each week. I highlight the busy weeks and warn my students to clear their calendars. The students know, the parents know. But around here school is a hobby and not much else. And if a kid fails no big deal...he/she still gets a passing grade from mom.

Another thing is that the history class had a "bare bones" option which one family chose to take. Minimal work, just read the summaries and watch the movies. The mom explicitly asked me about the movies and was ecstatic when I showed her the syllabus. And this is the family that will.not.do.the.work. Mom is clueless or, if she knows stuff isn't getting done, she has every excuse. And that brings me back to how tired I am of excuses.

 

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It still goes back to self-filtering. I'd wager it isn't definitively "the homeschoolers in your area;" it's more likely the homeschoolers in your co-op and  additional families in their periphery that people know but aren't in your co-op.  For example, I don't "know" any families here that are in co-ops. (As in know anything other than who they are and recognize their families as homeschoolers. I don't discuss homeschool education with them.) We moved here about a little over a yr ago, and this is a huge homeschooling area with more co-ops than schools. I don't really know any of those families bc they all tend to self-segregate into their individual co-ops and co-op activities. It has made meeting other homeschoolers difficult bc I won't join a co-op bc historically every single co-op I have ever encountered is full of families just like you describe.

Over the yrs, I have come to realize that l don't have anything homeschool-related in common with co-op families at large. If we joined one, anything we did there would just be a giant time-suck taking away from what I want to do. I'm sure that some of those co-ops are probably more academically successful than others, but those families that participate in each individual co-op do so bc there is something that draws them together.

FWIW, if I had joined a co-op, it would have been solely for my kids to meet other kids. Any class they took there would be my absolute non-priority and I would  be the detested parent who didn't see value in the course. I would be using it for my own purpose--socializing. (I wouldn't do that to a teacher, hence, why we don't join one. But I can see plenty of families doing precisely that.) 

Co-ops may have good intentions behind them, but good intentions don't equate to paving the path they intend. I see co-ops as providing a false sense of education. The responsibility is taken off of the parent, but equally that responsibility isn't placed on anyone with any actual educational authority.  It is a no-man's land where you get what you get both teacher and student-wise. I'd much rather put my time and energies where I have control, with my own kids. 

For as much time and effort as you are putting into that class, what would be the real-world equivalent in your own home with the same amt of time and energy toward a class you are less comfortable teaching? Probably equal or better to any class they are taking at the co-op. (Have you ever watched SWB's video on co-ops?  She says what I think, only she says it way better. 🙂 )

(Fwiw, I have moved multiple times while homeschooling. I haven't seen much difference from state to state. Most states are low regulation and even the ones with more regulations, homeschoolers know how to make the system work for them.)

 

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I feel for you, Bakers Dozen! It is beyond frustrating to put so much into a class and to love teaching it, only to have the students and parents treat it as optional.

IME, a successful co-op with an academic focus at the high school level does one of two things: 1) Hire paid teachers so there is a financial commitment,  or 2) Have a signed agreement where all families commit to taking the class seriously. Our co-op has been successful with the latter, but it takes commitment on the part of co-op leadership to set it up, keep a gradebook, and follow through on consequences. I was both teacher and administrator, so I could make sure this got done, but the role of teacher alone lacks the leverage and it's an exercise in frustration without the appropriate backing of the admin.

I'm sorry you are going through this. Those families certainly aren't doing their students any favors, and they are missing a golden opportunity for a great class. I hope some of your own kids are in the class, so that you have that benefit at least.

Edited by mom2att
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I quit teaching outside classes this year and I have no regrets. It's been a great year. FWIW I taught at community college for a long time before that. I thought I would miss teaching. I don't.

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You folks how teach primarily discussion classes like literature have a particularly difficult time with this.  I'm in my 7th year of teaching the same class at the same co-op, and our students run the gamut.  I usually have 15-20 students in a class, and every year I have a handful that do an excellent job, ending the year with almost perfect averages.  Usually at least 1/2 of the students earn As and Bs, although the difference between '99%' work and '81%' work is huge.  I also have students who fail my class ever year. 

I don't give busywork, so my weekly homework and monthly project are meant to guide students through how to study.  I might have the questions 1) explain the steps of mitosis 2) explain the steps of meiosis 3)  compare and contrast mitosis and meiosis - give 2 similarities and 2 differences.  I tell them that, in college, the tests would look the same but they might not have homework to guide them through the study process.  The tests look remarkably like the homework, so if they understand the homework, they tend to do well.

In the end, students tend to fall into one of a few groups.  I have students who do well - they have good study habits, or figure out how to have them because their parents expect for them to do well.  'Well' varies between families, but I tend to group my As and Bs here (I have very few Cs).  Then I have students who struggle with organization.  They are probably capable of doing the work, but can't seem to get organized.  The routine is the same all year - a homework and quiz (and whatever reading/lecture you need to find the answers) every week, a project (maybe a venn diagram, pedigree, etc) due the same day as the test, about once/month.  These students, usually boys, feel too grown to want help from their parents, but aren't organized enough to handle it themselves.  They are probably the biggest source of frustration, both for me and their parents.  Then I have students who have academic struggles-  memory issues, learning problems, etc.  Interestingly, these students have never earned less than a C - I know that they work hard, and the structure of my class makes it possible for them to pass.  Then I have the students who do nothing - they're not just disorgaized, I can see that they don't log in to canvas for weeks at a time.  They tend to fail.  It can be hard to figure out the difference between these students and the disorganized ones, but I think that the difference is parental involvement.  My disorganized kids have parents who are checking in on their kid and ask me questions.  When their student says that the homework is impossible, these parents say 'I looked, and the answer to #4 is stated right there in the book/video'.  

Anyway, all that is to say that I try to find my reward in teaching the students who really want to learn, celebrating the successes of the students who work really hard to do well or who finally have something click and figure out how to manage their time, and doing epic happy dances when students come back from college and say that they're rocking their college classes, or when parents stop me in the hall and say that their student was able to explain something sciencey that they heard on NPR.  I will say that our co-op board has recently gotten more assertive - we had a family that was doing nothing for any of their high school classes.  The board said that, while they understood that families have different abilities and priorities, they couldn't support truancy, which is what choosing to take all of your academic classes at a co-op and then doing no work is.  The family has since re-enrolled in public school.  

And, finally, for students/families who want a co-op more for social things, we have options for that.  We have classes like chess, ballroom dance, acting, choir, and public speaking that aren't traditional academic classes.  Students who dual enroll or are taking more rigorous classes at home in their last few years of high school often choose to come back and take a couple of those so that they still see their friends.  

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I’ve never taught in a co-op, but even as a parent I was frustrated with exactly what you describe. My kids always did their work, studied for exams, and participated in class discussions. But it was so annoying for the classes to routinely be slowed down/dumbed down because everyone else was so unprepared. I gave up. This is our second (or third?) year of no co-op and we couldn’t be happier. DD3 is now doing rigorous online classes where the expectations are high. It works so much better for us!

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((Hugs))

im sorry to say that this is 100% our experience in two different states at four different co-ops. In fact where I currently live education is highly valued and it is an educated affluent area. Few homeschoolers are unschoolers or non-schoolers. 

 

And yet... 

You’re lucky if 50% do their work.

how the wonderful teachers handle it at our co-op is they just give a generous portion of the grade for in class work and participate in and they often send home Fs.(in written and email form to their parents email) I asked like, are the parents mad? 

And they say nope. Kid comes back next semester and even the following year, gets Ds and Fs and no one seems to care. 

The partcukad teacher I was speaking with has been teaching for over ten years and is one of the best teachers my son ever had, anywhere. She send one kid to CalPoly and one to Stanford straight from homeschool. She’s cool and efficient and fair and her classes are legit.

She said, she truly doesn’t know why someone would pay and send their kid over and over only to fail the class. Her classes generally have 25 students and she said this is pretty much half the class. Every time every year.

her only thought is the parents and kids are so busy with extra curriculars that they figure at least the kid is learning something and they can just go to community college and have a slower start to their adult life.

??

i suggest you let it go. Give generous points for class participation, send home Fs, make sure to get rid of any students who are in ANY way negative or disruptive and move on.

 

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My experience is that the output of the students correlates highly with the overall expectations of the co-op (no matter what the teacher expects). We are in both.

In one co-op, essentially all of the students do the homework and homework is expected in all the classes. The teachers are well paid and grades are given. It is known when you sign up what you are signing up for. In another co-op, I suspect very few would do any homework no matter what the teacher stated in the description.

Regardless of whether or not homework is done, I feel that I have fulfilled my obligation to the teacher if I have paid the teacher. I expect the teacher to teach no matter what. ... and I expect that I can choose whether or not my kids do the homework as I am the parent and have to decide how I'm using that class as part of my school. My kids have signed up for classes and I told them that I did not want them putting in the time to do "homework" for that class if it took away from the homework that "I" wanted them do to for my expectations. (This was only done for a class that was not supposed to have homework in the first place). 

I do think it is only respectful to the teacher to ask ahead of time if the kids can be in the class if they are not going to do outside work - especially if discussions are based on work done at home. 

I wouldn't dismiss kids from a class unless they are being disruptive or not fulfilling expectations that were stated from the beginning with it being known that a student could be dismissed from the class. 

It's frustrating when students don't live up to your expectations, especially if you see your teaching and time being more of a gift or ministry and not a well-paid job.

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For writing classes, I make homework optional, and get the core of the writing done in class while I have the students captive. It means keeping the lesson portion of the class really tight. 

One or two students do the optional work, and get the most out of class, and the better feedback on their work. 

It's OK  - could be much better if kids worked in between classes, but most of them won't, so....

The real problem I had was when I ran book club - I have no idea how students thought a book club worked if you turned up and you hadn't read the book. I had to adapt for that also.

~

On the other hand, I haven't been on ds' back to do either his science homework or his writing homework (yes, he's in my class). He's not doing great emotionally atm, and it's a big deal getting him to class each week. Attending class and working in class is more than we could struggle with at home atm. So, I have also been 'that parent', who is taking advantage of the in class instruction without weekly follow through, even though I know how frustrating it is.

None of it is ideal.

 

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And, just to note, this happens all the time in public and private school. Kids just don't get their work done. 

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19 minutes ago, lmrich said:

And, just to note, this happens all the time in public and private school. Kids just don't get their work done. 

That is true.  It's good to remember that. 

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6 hours ago, StellaM said:

For writing classes, I make homework optional, and get the core of the writing done in class while I have the students captive. It means keeping the lesson portion of the class really tight. 

One or two students do the optional work, and get the most out of class, and the better feedback on their work. 

It's OK  - could be much better if kids worked in between classes, but most of them won't, so....

The real problem I had was when I ran book club - I have no idea how students thought a book club worked if you turned up and you hadn't read the book. I had to adapt for that also.

~

On the other hand, I haven't been on ds' back to do either his science homework or his writing homework (yes, he's in my class). He's not doing great emotionally atm, and it's a big deal getting him to class each week. Attending class and working in class is more than we could struggle with at home atm. So, I have also been 'that parent', who is taking advantage of the in class instruction without weekly follow through, even though I know how frustrating it is.

None of it is ideal.

 

Sorry about your son, Stella 😞

There are so many reasons that a child needs a co-op and so many reasons they may not work. I'm sure you've let the teacher know, because it helps me when I know the backstory of why a student hasn't done the work. 

 

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6 hours ago, Julie of KY said:

My experience is that the output of the students correlates highly with the overall expectations of the co-op (no matter what the teacher expects). We are in both.

In one co-op, essentially all of the students do the homework and homework is expected in all the classes. The teachers are well paid and grades are given. It is known when you sign up what you are signing up for. In another co-op, I suspect very few would do any homework no matter what the teacher stated in the description.

Regardless of whether or not homework is done, I feel that I have fulfilled my obligation to the teacher if I have paid the teacher. I expect the teacher to teach no matter what. ... and I expect that I can choose whether or not my kids do the homework as I am the parent and have to decide how I'm using that class as part of my school. My kids have signed up for classes and I told them that I did not want them putting in the time to do "homework" for that class if it took away from the homework that "I" wanted them do to for my expectations. (This was only done for a class that was not supposed to have homework in the first place). 

I do think it is only respectful to the teacher to ask ahead of time if the kids can be in the class if they are not going to do outside work - especially if discussions are based on work done at home. 

I wouldn't dismiss kids from a class unless they are being disruptive or not fulfilling expectations that were stated from the beginning with it being known that a student could be dismissed from the class. 

It's frustrating when students don't live up to your expectations, especially if you see your teaching and time being more of a gift or ministry and not a well-paid job.

I'm quoting you because if an issue you raise-not as a direct criticism ( bc it's not exactly your situation.)

We as Homeschoolers are in control of our children's education. And I use to be all in board with the idea that of course the parent can cut the work. Now I've seen that doing that effects the entire class. If multiple children do not have to do assigned work, more children stop. If mom doesn't think the work is as important as her work, it gets treated less seriously and that effects the class. (Now, of course in the quoted post above, if the class had stated no homework then students shouldn't have to do homework)  If you don't plan to put a good effort into the class ( or have a student in a special situation like Stella's) make sure you talk with the teacher. And if your plan is never to take academic co-op classes seriously ever, I think you aren't being respectful to the work the teacher puts into teaching ( often a couple of hours a week.)  ( I'm talking s general you not specific to the above poster.)  I actually think this even if you are paying.

 

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40 minutes ago, freesia said:

Sorry about your son, Stella 😞

There are so many reasons that a child needs a co-op and so many reasons they may not work. I'm sure you've let the teacher know, because it helps me when I know the backstory of why a student hasn't done the work. 

 

 

I am one of the teachers! 

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11 minutes ago, freesia said:

I'm quoting you because if an issue you raise-not as a direct criticism ( bc it's not exactly your situation.)

We as Homeschoolers are in control of our children's education. And I use to be all in board with the idea that of course the parent can cut the work. Now I've seen that doing that effects the entire class. If multiple children do not have to do assigned work, more children stop. If mom doesn't think the work is as important as her work, it gets treated less seriously and that effects the class. (Now, of course in the quoted post above, if the class had stated no homework then students shouldn't have to do homework)  If you don't plan to put a good effort into the class ( or have a student in a special situation like Stella's) make sure you talk with the teacher. And if your plan is never to take academic co-op classes seriously ever, I think you aren't being respectful to the work the teacher puts into teaching ( often a couple of hours a week.)  ( I'm talking s general you not specific to the above poster.)  I actually think this even if you are paying.

 

The above is one of reasons why I homeschool. I don't want other people's kids limiting my kids' academics. But, the scenario described is just the reality of group dynamics. Unless you are lucky enough to be with people with the same level of commitment to any given class, the level of performance of other kids is going to impact yours bc pace, discussion, etc are going to be influenced by the group dynamic. Since co-op grades have zero real-world impact, there isn't any incentive for kids to "perform" unless they are internally motivated or parents hold them accountable.  At least in schools, grades have official transcripts and kids are somewhat filtered by grades/ability through advanced/honors/AP. Those might be the necessary incentives for some kids and families. 

We do have the ability to restrict those influences on our kids. 🙂 For when we need to outsource, online and DE are my preferences.

 

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Freesia - and others...

I totally think that you need to respect the teacher and class and not put your student into a class that has expectations that you are not going to fulfill unless you have prior permission from the teacher. I teach in co-ops of multiple settings and different expectations. I have classes that my expectation is that homework is done - and it is. Other classes, I assign "optional" homework and I'm always surprised at how many do it. I do think you need to spell out expectations ahead of time and consequences other than bad grades if there are other consequences. 

I think it is hard in many homeschool communities to host classes that have the expectation that all kids work at the same level and do homework when each family is very different. 

It's very frustrating as a teacher if you put in lots of effort and don't see the students put in their effort of learning. However, I think that oftentimes you can figure out the setting in which you are teaching and the families involved/attitudes toward homework in the place. If you are in a co-op that expects homework of all and it is done year after year, I would expect not to have troubles. If you are introducing a class with homework into a co-op that is more loosely structured and homework is considered optional, then I would expect a number of families to opt out of the homework unfortunately. As a teacher I try to do my homework about how the co-op is run and then make my expectations very clear.

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On 12/5/2018 at 3:58 AM, 8FillTheHeart said:

For as much time and effort as you are putting into that class, what would be the real-world equivalent in your own home with the same amt of time and energy toward a class you are less comfortable teaching? Probably equal or better to any class they are taking at the co-op. (Have you ever watched SWB's video on co-ops?  She says what I think, only she says it way better. 🙂 )

 

I remember this one, loved it! Yes, we avoided co-ops and found other ways to socialize (we schooled 4.5 days per week with fewer weeks off in the summer in order to make every Friday afternoon a fun day, kids saw other kids in extra curricular classes, etc...) The one year we did an every other week co-op (because I wanted the speech opportunities), all the classes were a mixed bag--some kids read, some didn't, some weeks 3/4 of the class didn't show up etc... Not a fun dynamic! 

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Some kids just don’t have a lot of friends and some classes don’t lend themselves well to an online setting. And some kids also don’t do well with online settings.

but I try to limit reliance on the co-op because there are all the trappings of public school with bullying, exclusion, undisciplined and lazy kids, etc.

So limited use is best, IMO.

 

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So...just got an email from the mom who chose the absolute easiest option for her kids, who doesn't know what her kids are doing at any given time with school, who gives one excuse after another...her kids won't be there for the final exam/project due to a previously planned activity. I handed out the syllabus the first week of August. Dates, everything on it. She asked if her kids can make up the time with me. No. She can do whatever the heck she wants with her kids (which means passing them even though they should not pass). I'm done.

The reason I offer the co-op is because there used to be nothing for high school students in this area as far as home school classes. Teaching classes keeps me accountable to my own kids (of whom 2-4 are in each class) and gives me great joy in the challenges I face as I study/prep/present. These are not light classes and the parents/students know it up front. I offer a lighter option for those who do not want college prep pace/content but even the lighter option demands that the student/family put a good amount of time into each class. What keeps me going are those students who rise to the top and do their best. When I receive a letter or email thanking me for pushing them hard and not letting them get away with not doing their work or telling me that they are using what they learned (even when they questioned why they had to learn it initially)...that is why I teach these classes.

 

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It's frustrating when students don't live up to your expectations, especially if you see your teaching and time being more of a gift or ministry and not a well-paid job.

You nailed it. I've always viewed my time/teaching as a ministry and am thrilled to be here for our home school community. But how do I reconcile this utter lack of regard/respect from the students and parents? I was very clear with the parents/students regarding my rules and expectations. It should not come as any surprise when a student is excused...the problem is that the parents do not care and do not make their kids do the work (or miss out on other activities until the work is done).

I've read the responses here twice already and will do so again. Thank you all for your advice and admonishment - it has helped me immensely as I am rethinking my intention to continue offering co-op classes.

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I feel ya, Bakers Dozen.  I teach at a co-op, and at the end of this semester, I'm done.  I feel like I'm a glorified babysitter for kids who get dropped off at the co-op for a few hours so moms can take a break.  I think there really is something to the self-selecting of parents who send their kids to co-op as opposed to directly overseeing their students' education.  (I don't mean this is true of all co-op parents, but there are enough of them, that it sets the tone for the rest of the class.)  

I have had better luck with having parents select a group of peers and hiring me to teach the small group in their home.  When a mom hand selects students to join her child in a class, they are likely to all be on the same page as far as attitude and commitment.  This particular mom even warned me about one student as being flaky and encouraged me to contact her if she dragged the rest of the class down.  (This student didn't.  They were all lovely.)   

I've also decided not to teach "core" classes anymore, only enrichment.  That way if a student is absent, there is no makeup required.  Each class is pretty much independent of the rest.  I've had students be absent for serious medical issues and other great opportunities.  I want to be supportive, but I just don't have time to deal with this.

And finally, I spend a lot of my time tutoring 1:1.  When parents are paying by the hour, they step up.  

Like Ann Landers used to say, no one can take advantage of you without your permission.  Design your life the way you want it, to the extent that you can.  I'm trying my best to do the same.  

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I mean, I am not a co-op teacher, so it's easy for me to say...

But I really love the classes and teachers that put their hearts into what they do and it has been great for my kids.  They (both my kids and the teachers) seem to be able to shrug it off that half the class goes home with an F and doesn't do the work.  And they seem to really have fun with and enjoy the kids that show up and work hard and contribute!  

(obviously as I said before bad attitudes and disruptive behavior should not be tolerated, but I am just talking about nice kids that are pleasant but don't do the work and don't contribute much in class)

Do you think you could come to the point where you could function in that manner?  

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I think what's probably wearing you down is the constant requests to do more to make up for the students not doing their part.  I have thoroughly enjoyed some students who failed my class - they were great to talk to, they just didn't do the work.  I decided to be content with the fact that they learned something.  It is rare that I get parents asking me to do more, though.  It's one thing to meet with a student for 15 minutes after class, but it is unusual for a parent to want more.  One time I offered to meet with a student who had to miss due to a competition -  her mom paid extra as if I were tutoring even though I didn't request it.  There was one time that a student did nothing all semester and then the parent asked the co-op board if I could come to their 'place of business where student was involved in training' and teach them there...the co-op board said that they were welcome to try to make any private tutoring arrangements that they could find somebody to make, but there was no expectation that teachers would travel to do unpaid private tutoring on their own time.  

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On 12/6/2018 at 6:31 AM, freesia said:

I'm quoting you because if an issue you raise-not as a direct criticism ( bc it's not exactly your situation.)

We as Homeschoolers are in control of our children's education. And I use to be all in board with the idea that of course the parent can cut the work. Now I've seen that doing that effects the entire class. If multiple children do not have to do assigned work, more children stop. If mom doesn't think the work is as important as her work, it gets treated less seriously and that effects the class. (Now, of course in the quoted post above, if the class had stated no homework then students shouldn't have to do homework)  If you don't plan to put a good effort into the class ( or have a student in a special situation like Stella's) make sure you talk with the teacher. And if your plan is never to take academic co-op classes seriously ever, I think you aren't being respectful to the work the teacher puts into teaching ( often a couple of hours a week.)  ( I'm talking s general you not specific to the above poster.)  I actually think this even if you are paying.

 

I actually am moving all my group music classes to private lessons-because forget homework-I always have a couple of kids who show up randomly! And I’ve had parents quote that exact line to me “oh, well-at least you got paid”.  I decided to go with private lessons instead-that way, no-shows don’t keep others from progressing, and if you no-show, most of my prep can be rolled over into the next week instead of trying to catch the kid who missed up and move the others on. For the most part, the people I lost were those who thought that paying for a semester meant they could drop in when they wanted. No big loss!

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ClemsonDana- the nerve of some people!

i hate to say this but in my experience I have found homeschool moms to be the most stingy and have ridiculous expectations out of all the people I’ve interacted with. I realize it’s a generalization but it’s my experience. You’ll be selling brand new curriculum at 30% the cost of brand new and you refer them to the website so they can see samples and then they request to come over (three or four rowdy kids included) to look at it first! Or worse once the woman came to pay and pickup and THEN she said she couldn’t purchase without time to peruse it. With no front porch I was forced to let her (and her kids) in! Or people who get FREE stuff and then ask if you have this or that thing to complement it, or if you’d tell them how to use it, or whatever.

I can’t imagine thinking a teacher would come tutor my kid without extra pay! And that should have been requested directly of you, as a private tutoring thing, not through the co-op board! 😡🙄

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I really think co-ops are fine as long as - first of all, parents don't expect them to do more than enrich things - social experiences, a place for teams and groups for outside competitions, a place for discussions, a place for kids to play around with things - not core academics. And second of all, parents who are teaching don't let it get to them how others run their homeschools. We get a peek into others' homeschools when we teach their kids, but it's just a peek. I think when you're co-op teaching, you just have to do what you can with class time and let it go when kids and families don't fulfill your vision because you're not ultimately responsible for their education. When you're a school teacher, you have to worry - did I teach enough history/math/science/etc. to call this a "credit" or further this kid's education properly? But for a co-op? Not your worry. Let it go. And if you're a generous person, assume the parents are doing their best.

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Not a co-op but I teach science classes to homeschoolers.    Each week I do about 15-30 minutes of background on the topic, then we do a 30-45 minute lab.  I provide a syllabus of what we are covering each week and links for additional readings but they are optional.  If there's something they need to know to do the lab, I cover it in class.   So, they can use it purely as enrichment or they can add to it to make a full course, it's their choice.

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On ‎12‎/‎4‎/‎2018 at 4:30 PM, BakersDozen said:

I vented months ago regarding my high school co-op classes. Issues are: Students not completing their work, parents not involved/caring, etc. I put in easily 1.5 hours per subject per day for 3 classes and have told my students that if I do the work then I expect them to as well. I've had students tell me they can't be at class for whatever reason minutes before class time begins. I've sent emails and letters. I've rearranged the syllabus and taken into consideration busy schedules/conflicts. I've admonished and "scolded". Today when half my history class had not watched the 2 movies I assigned I excused them from the class...for good. I'm done.

I don't understand the mentality behind these students or their parents. One mom scheduled an appointment for her daughter during class time but it wasn't during the girl's college class time, just my co-op time. The girl asked when I would be able to meet later in the week to make up the work and I told her I'm not available. She wasn't sick, there was no emergency, so I'm not giving up even more of my time for those who do not respect my time in the first place.

I live in a state with zero regulations on home schooling and honestly, I don't know that I agree with that anymore. I would like to see one rule that classes need to be signed off by the teacher. So if my students don't pass their U.S. History class then I sign a paper stating that and the parents have to include that on their student's transcript or whatever.

I'm so angry I'm fighting tears. I watch other students bust their butts doing the work and I love the discussion we have...if the students have done their work leading up to class day. I love teaching - nothing makes me feel more invigorated or alive than leading a class. But I feel so angry and disappointed in these students.

I can't vent on FB (nor would I) as the parents are on my friend list so thanks for allowing me to vent here.

I used to get angry at this, as well, and I have dealt with these issues for several years in high-school science courses.  About 50% of my students are prepared each week, and that estimate is probably on the generous side.  The homeschooling community is just like students and parents anywhere - there are lazy students, incapable students, troubled students, family problems, motivated students, health problems, and bright students for whom everything comes easily,, and you can't change that.  The only thing you can alter is your own behavior and attitude.  Your job is to do the very best you can do in preparing the class and guiding these students, and then accept that some students will take advantage of the opportunity to learn and others will not.  I offer a graded option and a non-graded option for my class, and I assign my grades based on clear and strict criteria.  I do not slow down or dumb down the classes for those who don't do the work.  The transcripts and grades of the students who opt for the non-graded option are not my problem nor my responsibility; they are the parents' responsibility and how they handle their transcript is their business.  That said, for students who are consistently non-motivated or absent, I do not go out of my way to meet them outside of class and go over crap they missed.  I will do that for students who have a genuine lack of understanding or miss a class once in a while for some reason; but if you are consistently absent, never read the text, and don't watch the videos, you are on your own.  I have also taught private, "by invitation only" classes occasionally, when I don't want to deal with slackers.

On another note, my DD has been *that* student this semester for one of her co-op classes.  She is kinda-sorta prepared, but not well-prepared, and yes, the college classes take priority because they are a crap-ton of money, eligible for formal transfer to a 4-year university, and are on her permanent record.  I do not plan on using the co-op class she is taking for credit, and I only intend to use some of the material as part of a larger course, so this works for us.  You just never know what the motivations are of a student taking a course, so I would just teach as best you can, and accept that this class will not be a priority for all of your students. 

Edited by Reefgazer
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As a co-op mom, teacher, and director, I get the frustration. But I also get varying family expectations and student maturity.

I went to public school and was notorious (like, seriously notorious) for not doing my work. Granted, that was before ADHD (with EF issues) was widely recognized, understood, or applied to girls! I spent 5th-12th grades being told what a crummy student I was. I actually did learn a ton, got my best grades in courses heavy on class participation, and rocked the SATs. That's a major reason I don't put much stock in grades.

My own kids are not so great with co-op assignments. At least, not until they hit 14/15 and felt personally invested in subject matter, teamwork, and external validation. I try to be sure to put my kids in "flexible " classes, but I have misinterpreted a few. I'd be understanding if a teacher wanted my child removed for the sake of the other students, but I don't consider that a negative reflection of my kids or my homeschooling. We love co-opping, but I don't do it to replicate the system I decided against.

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On 12/6/2018 at 6:56 AM, lmrich said:

And, just to note, this happens all the time in public and private school. Kids just don't get their work done. 

Yup. Even at a $20k/year private school, there's always somebody.

We don't do co-op classes. I'd likely consider one for enrichment if it was close to home. But if I'm serious about my child learning from a course, I either teach it myself or outsource it directly to a professional instructor (which we're doing with piano and Spanish). At least in my area, it feels like the co-op is a framework in which the classes are inherently not very important, along the lines of a little parks & rec class for fun, or a short-term club.

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Students who don't do the work and still "pass" with a Mommy grade (given on their homeschool transcript, not by you) will have this reflected in their test scores and placement tests and in any formal college work that they end up doing.  So these parents and kids are only hurting themselves.  But I also don't see any reason why you can't just dismiss any who miss X amount of classes or X amount of homework if they are going to hurt the class dynamic and won't be able to add to things like discussions. 

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13 hours ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Students who don't do the work and still "pass" with a Mommy grade (given on their homeschool transcript, not by you) will have this reflected in their test scores and placement tests and in any formal college work that they end up doing.  So these parents and kids are only hurting themselves.  But I also don't see any reason why you can't just dismiss any who miss X amount of classes or X amount of homework if they are going to hurt the class dynamic and won't be able to add to things like discussions. 

 

Sadly, the first part of your statement is not necessarily true. Many of these types of kids and families shoot to go straight to community college, and take remedial courses.  Many others don't go to college or have different goals altogether.  But ALL of them view the co-op as a thing that they can use in a way that they want, regardless of what your intention as a teacher, your syllabus, or your class goals are.  They view it as a something extra and many of them do not give formal grades at home anyway.

It really is an unfair situation, of people signing up for something, knowing full well that they are not in the same boat with the teacher, and that they are not intending to be on the same page at all.  One poster on this thread quite honestly shared just that.  

OP, I think you either need to structure your class and change your heart in such a way that you are glad to serve, regardless of the input of the students, or that you will dismiss the student if a certain grade is not maintained, or more than three assignments missed, in written contract, with the parents ahead of time.  

Edited by Calming Tea
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39 minutes ago, Calming Tea said:

 

Sadly, the first part of your statement is not necessarily true. Many of these types of kids and families shoot to go straight to community college, and take remedial courses.  Many others don't go to college or have different goals altogether.  But ALL of them view the co-op as a thing that they can use in a way that they want, regardless of what your intention as a teacher, your syllabus, or your class goals are.  They view it as a something extra and many of them do not give formal grades at home anyway.

It really is an unfair situation, of people signing up for something, knowing full well that they are not in the same boat with the teacher, and that they are not intending to be on the same page at all.  One poster on this thread quite honestly shared just that.  

OP, I think you either need to structure your class and change your heart in such a way that you are glad to serve, regardless of the input of the students, or that you will dismiss the student if a certain grade is not maintained, or more than three assignments missed, in written contract, with the parents ahead of time.  

I still don't see the problem?  They will still end up as responsible members of society who know how to read and write etc.  If they want to go on to college as a way to further employment opportunities then they will do so.  I understand the OP's frustration but those who do not share her educational goals are not asking her to put those goals on their homeschool. 

As a teacher myself (in private and public schools, not co-ops), I do understand the need for students to be on the same page when it comes to be able to participate fully in discussions etc.  But their grades and their future?  I don't take that on myself.  That doesn't mean that I don't care about them.  But especially at the high school level, education is a two way street. 

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Oh I totally agree with you...I know a lot of kids from families that are less academically minded in high school who do very well in life. In fact, one of my own kids, seems to be planning on the slower/gentler/different path.  She challenges herself by training and riding a 1200 lb moody toddler every day.  That's her deal.  I am proud of her and I am extremely excited about where her life is taking her.

But, I do think it's a little hard on teachers when kids are not on the same page as far as fulfilling class expectations. It is unfair to sign up for a class, knowing your kid will probably not do the assigned reading, assigned homework, etc.  

But what I am saying is, even though it's unfair, it's what happens.  The co-op teachers either need to be ok with it, or find a way to dismiss the students tactfully, using pre-agreed-upon criteria. 🙂

 

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On 12/6/2018 at 7:01 AM, StellaM said:

I am one of the teachers! 

 

Maybe have a parent-teacher conference 😄

On 12/7/2018 at 9:29 AM, Calming Tea said:

They (both my kids and the teachers) seem to be able to shrug it off that half the class goes home with an F and doesn't do the work.   

(obviously as I said before bad attitudes and disruptive behavior should not be tolerated, but I am just talking about nice kids that are pleasant but don't do the work and don't contribute much in class)

Do you think you could come to the point where you could function in that manner?  

 

I haven't taught in a co-op but I have taught many classes. Yes, this is the point you need to come to if you want to teach and retain your sanity. 

On 12/8/2018 at 1:57 PM, Where's Toto? said:

Not a co-op but I teach science classes to homeschoolers.    Each week I do about 15-30 minutes of background on the topic, then we do a 30-45 minute lab.  I provide a syllabus of what we are covering each week and links for additional readings but they are optional.  If there's something they need to know to do the lab, I cover it in class.   So, they can use it purely as enrichment or they can add to it to make a full course, it's their choice.

 

This is the best way to structure classes for homeschoolers, imo. 

On 12/12/2018 at 1:26 AM, Jean in Newcastle said:

But I also don't see any reason why you can't just dismiss any who miss X amount of classes or X amount of homework if they are going to hurt the class dynamic and won't be able to add to things like discussions. 

 

I don't think this works long-term, particularly for a co-op. You may think of it as only losing the lackadaisical students, but you will likely lose a lot of their friends as well, simply bc even dedicated homeschoolers see outside classes as a chance to socialize. In a co-op situation, the teacher may not even have the freedom to do that. 

OP, I would work on structuring my classes in such a way that unprepared students don't grind things to a halt. This may be having the extra readings and assignments as things that are completely done on their own, or it may be by having alternate assignments ready for those who don't come to class prepared. This could be as simple as, oh, you haven't done the reading? Do it now. Or simple things you pull off the internet or out of the book, definitely not things that will take more of your own time. Alternately, those who don't come prepared can observe rather than participate. Both of these can be good motivators if they are missing out on fun or interesting activities and experiments! 

You don't have to give make-ups, you don't have to slow down class or explain things they should have read on their own, but you do have to let go of the expectation that most or even many of the students are going to work as hard as you do. As others noted, that is a problem in many classes, not just homeschool co-ops. There's a reason why everybody can identify with, "Anyone? Bueller? Class? Anyone?" It's more usual than not for a small group of students to carry the burden of discussion and general class participation. It's not fair, but hey, group projects at school or work are rarely fair either! But they are inescapable, lol. 

You have to decide what you are willing to do for yourself and your kids, and let the rest go. The classes I put a ton of work into were classes I was doing for my own kids, where having additional students would be beneficial. You cannot control other people, you can only control yourself. You can control the structure and environment of the class to a certain extent. In chemistry class, group the prepared kids together for experiments. In literature class, group the prepared kids together for discussion, peer review, and projects. And so on. You can also control whether or not you teach classes at all. It's completely fine to go, yeah, not worth it, and pursue something else. 

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Can you put something in the syllabus like "College applications often/always ask for recommendations from teachers and counselors.  I am happy to write a recommendation for students who participate, do the assigned homework and come to class fully prepared."?  I wonder if maybe something like that would be a wake up call to some of these students/parents.

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