1. Don’t forget the community!
Recruiting teachers is a constant challenge with almost any homeschool co-op. Here are 4 great ways to fill those all-important jobs.
The community is a resource that is so often overlooked. There are many people in the community who have the time and interest to teach at your co-op, either volunteer or paid. In addition to helping the kids learn something no one else in the co-op has expertise in, they get exposed to other people in the community from different backgrounds and ages, build networking opportunities that can help them in the future, and in turn give the community the opportunity to see what homeschooling is all about. Here are some examples of people who have taught at our co-op:
- The regional director of Emergency Management in our area arranged CPR classes, first aid, and visits to all the local police, fire stations, etc. for our high school emergency preparedness class. (volunteer)
- A grandmother of one of our families owned a quilting shop and taught sewing for middle school at her store. (volunteer, we paid for materials)
- A local mechanic who works on race cars taught welding for high school at his shop. (volunteer, we paid for materials)
- A retired music teacher and a piano teacher/vocalist taught music on-site at our co-op with different classes for different ages. (we paid per child like a group lesson)
- A friend of mine who was a stay-at-home mom knew a lot of immigrants and created a class called “Countries and Cultures” where she invited different immigrants from countries around the world to speak to the middle and high school kids. (volunteer)
- A grandfather of one of the families taught an awesome hands-on science class for elementary and middle school. (volunteer)
- A teacher from the local Art Institute teaches art to middle and high school. (we pay per child like a group lesson)
As you can see, there are lots of people out there! The key is to never be afraid to ask. I’ve had people tell me no, but I’m always surprised at how many say yes!
2. Do a little snooping!
In our co-op, if you have a passion or expertise in an area and you let it slip, you better watch out! I’ll have you teaching in no time! Worse yet, don’t show up to a planning meeting where someone else tells us you’re good at something, and you’ll get volunteered to teach a class before you even know you’ve been put on the schedule!!
Remember, in a co-op setting, the only thing you often know about people is that they are parents and they homeschool. Thankfully, there is always a handful of people who love teaching and are vocal about what they like to teach. But there are also those with hidden talents, interests, or experience that can make for some wonderful classes. For example, we found out one of our moms was a nutritionist, and she is now teaching Health and Nutrition for high school. Another of our moms revealed she is a sign language interpreter and now she is teaching ASL to middle school. So make sure to take a little time to get to know people, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! You never know what treasure you may find!
3. Grow them up!
Some people just need a little encouragement before they are ready to step into the role of lead teacher. At our co-op we always have a lead teacher and an assistant, or two co-teachers. Either one of those scenarios is a great way to help build someone up who may be a potential candidate for the future. As assistant or co-teacher, they don’t have all the pressure of corralling kids, planning classes, or directing the class. The more experienced person takes on the bulk of the work, giving the less experienced person the opportunity to get acquainted with how teaching a certain age group or subject might look, making it seem more doable for the future.
4. Enjoy the gifted!
Last, but certainly not least, are the parents within the group who love to teach and can teach almost anything! They are incredible resources. Just remember, it’s easy to burn out people who tend to take on a lot. At our co-op we try to limit teachers to 2 classes, sometimes 3, and try to make sure they have 1 or 2 hours free. Of course that is for volunteers. If you are paying your teachers, they may want to take on more for their own financial benefit.
Bottom line, think outside the box and try to look at all the possibilities. You never know where a great teacher might pop up!