Dos and Don’ts of co-op

I’ve been part of homeschool co-ops for 3 years now (2 years in one, 1 year in another).  I have decided that I would list some dos and don’ts partly as a reminder for myself, but also as a help to others.

*Please note this is not how to start and run a co-op, merely how to work within one.

Do

  • Walk in with a plan!  Not merely a plan for the day, but a plan for the year.  Yes, it can be “flexible”, but if you are changing the syllabus every week. . .
  • Have an idea of time.  Not merely your class time, but time for each activity.  For instance, I know that it takes ~ 3 minutes per ITEM for the kids in my class to label their maps.  (This accounts for finding the location, making mistakes and waiting for white-out to dry, pens dropping to the floor and rolling away, and those super neat kids that have to have it “just so”.)
  • Do be specific in your assignments.  This is so easy with the younger set of children, and I think too many of us fail to realize how specific we have to be with older children.  (We assume, because they are in highschool, they’ll understand what we are looking for, and what it will take to get there.  This is not true!)
  • Do create a rubric for essays.  This is particularly helpful for high-schoolers, and for you the grader!  This sort of falls under the “specific with assignments”, but the kids need to know “specifically” what you are looking for.  As parents / teachers, a lot of us forget that we had to learn this too.
  • Do be respectful to your students.  (You would think this is a no-brainer. . .)
  • Do be very aware of your students in class.  (i.e. If you have your students bring in laptops for an assignment, you need to be aware they are going to try to get on Facebook / email, etc.  Their respect for you will plummet if you let them get away with this!)
  • Do create interest.  This is a hard one!  However, if you see that the kids aren’t paying attention, eyes are glazed over, etc.  it’s up to you to fix that!
  • Do demand responsibility.  This is particularly true of older kids (high-schoolers).  If they are slacking, you need to call them on it.  Additionally, because they are homeschoolers, if it continues, you need to make their parent aware.  You are not “tattling”, but if something serious is happening in their family life, it would help you to know.  If there is nothing going on in their family to cause the issue the parent is ultimately responsible for their education.
  • Do make sure your resources are right for you.  Just because someone suggests a book to use, don’t assume it will work for you!  If you are going to be teaching the class the first person the resource has to “work for” is you!

Don’t

  • Do not assign something that you, yourself, have not done!  (i.e.  If you assign research on a topic, but you haven’t researched it yourself. . .that is SO wrong!)
  • Do not assume, just because they are kids, they know how to use every program available to them on the computer.  (i.e.  Kids need to be taught how to use a PowerPoint™; and if you require it as part of a graded assignment but aren’t willing to teach it, this is a problem.)

I am certain there are at least a hundred other items I can put on this list, but I have to get moving on my day.

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