Responsibilities Regarding the Education of Students
(Most of this information regards teachers, parents, and students
in junior high and senior high classes.)
The terms “home teachers” and “parents” in this document refer to parents while they are in the family role of teachers and administrators over their own children/students at home. Parents bear the primary responsibility and control of their students’ educations. Being in co-op does not change that.
The terms “co-op teachers” and “teachers” in this document refer to the parents while they are in the role of enriching particular subjects at co-op on Friday for co-op students. They are secondary to the parents in responsibility and control of the students’ educations.
The relationship of the co-op teachers and home teachers is a cooperative one. They must communicate and work together for co-op to be manageable and enjoyable for the co-op teachers and for it to be an effective and productive tool for the parents and students to use. Teachers, parents, and students must work faithfully in each of their roles for the goal of shared and effective labor to be worthwhile.
Responsibilities – Who Does What!
Co-op Teachers’ Responsibilities:
Although the co-op teachers cannot fully educate students in fifty-five minutes per week, in that time they can share their expertise through lectures, promote understanding through activities, flame contagious interest in their subjects, and set the pacing through agreed upon curricula, doing all of these to support parents in their quest to educate their students well. The co-op teachers are 100% successful when they can stand before the Lord knowing they have planned and prepared faithfully, have used the time at co-op well, and informed the parents of the plan for their subjects. That’s it. The parents and students must bear the burden from there.
The co-op teachers must communicate their plans and share their materials with the parents in full because as the home teachers, the parents oversee and carry out the plan during the week when most of the learning and work happen. Although junior high and senior high school students are old enough to manage themselves and tend to their work, all students, even college students, engage with informed teachers throughout the week. The co-op teachers need not be available for management of the material beyond Friday because their co-teachers are in charge in the home and ultimately responsible anyway. It is not coddling older students for the parents as the home teachers to be fully informed about assignments given at co-op and for them to provide structure, accountability, and support to make sure that the learning and work are done well during the week. Parents sometimes think they should step out of the way once students are older. That is not the case! Co-op teachers, in their short time with the students, cannot be the main teacher, supervising work, encouraging excellence, and assessing comprehension of the material. When parents of any age students neglect being the home teachers, they not only put their students at risk of a poor education, but they also put an undue burden on the co-op teachers. This tempts the co-op teachers to do more than they have been asked to do and also more than is appropriate as managers of their own homes and their own children’s educations.
Teachers should make sure all resources and supplies needed for classes are included in the Class Descriptions on the website. Assignments and explanations related to the class should be kept up to date on the Classroom Connections page. Emails are also great for communication with parents, but the emailed information should also be posted to the website by the lead teachers or help teachers. New or weekly assignments should go on the website on Fridays but no later than Sunday afternoon. Putting weekly information on the website is a great job for help teachers. There are internet hot spots and computers available at the Moms’ Table most weeks.
Co-op teachers should communicate any problems with the parents. Sometime parents miss organizational or learning problems in their own students because the problems have developed slowly over time and/or seem normal to the parents for other reasons. The co-op teachers should never know anything about a student that his parents do not know. Better to communicate too much than too little. If a co-op teacher feels ill-equipped for this type communication, she may delegate that job to a help teacher or seek counsel from the director or other appropriate person. If a teacher is speaking to anyone about a particular student, it should be only as a step to getting that information to the parents as soon as possible.
If a student is chronically unprepared for a class without an explanation from a parent, the co-op teacher must speak to the parent and the co-op director as soon as possible so a plan can be established to bring the student up to an appropriate level of work. A student who does not overcome and faithfully tend to a class will not be allowed to continue to attend the enrichment portion of the course. The director must be part of this process and decision. This has been a rare solution, but a right and appropriate one when decided. A neglectful student’s presence in a class might give him (and the parents) a false sense that the student is learning a subject and is earning a credit. The presence of a student who is not faithful is discouraging to the co-op teacher and sets a precedent of a poor work ethic for others. Lastly, the teacher may rightly feel there is an issue of his own integrity at stake. He may be concerned he is participating in an undeserved transcript credit and a missed opportunity to educate a student.
Parents oversee their students’ educations at home. If they choose to have students in particular co-op classes to enrich their courses, they are choosing to participate in the classes as designed, diligently overseeing the home portion of the work. As stated above, it is not coddling older students for the parents as the home teachers to be fully informed about assignments given at co-op and for them to provide structure, accountability, and support to make sure that the learning and work are done well during the week. To do anything less is neglect of duty.
Parents should pay attention to all communications from the co-op teachers and quickly respond with questions and need for clarification. They should be faithful, informed, and active as the primary teachers during the week.
For the sake of their students’ educations and the quality of CHEC classes, parents should expect their students to be on pace with their classes and support their students in every way possible to keep their students on pace with their classes. Recovering from getting behind in a course is difficult whether a student is in co-op or not, but getting behind in a CHEC class immediately affects a student’s take-away from the course and often affects the teacher’s ability to enrich the course for the class. Planning for and managing class time would become unwieldy if the teacher had to consider students could be at different places because of different paces. In classes like writing or speech, students’ assignments must be on time for the teacher to manage the class and give feedback. When there is a pacing issue, parents must speak to the teacher.
If a student is going through something temporarily or permanently that is affecting his understanding or work ethic or pacing, parents should communicate with his teachers so they can understand the circumstances.
Here are a few examples of legitimate circumstances that need to be communicated:
- A family chooses to take a vacation or trip during the school year. After the trip, there might rightly be a period of catching up. Talk to and share with the teachers about the intentional plan to catch up.
- Family difficulties throw a family off their game. Illness, employment issues, death of a loved one, depression, new baby and more affect the rhythm of a family. Discreet communication with the co-op teachers needs to happen if home dynamics are noticeably affecting a student’s preparedness for co-op classes.
- A student is not keeping pace with the class or the parent is uncomfortable with the pace of the material for mastery. The parent may choose a different pace appropriate for their student! Again, the parent may choose a different pace appropriate for their student, but the parent should communicate with the teacher. There are three reasons this should be communicated early to the teacher involved. First, the class pace may be reasonable for the student, and through discussion with the teacher, the parent and student realize it and are able to address issues that were slowing the student down. The student then catches up and stays up with the class. Second, the pace may be unreasonable, and through discussion, the teacher realizes that she is going too fast for the students to appropriately and thoroughly learn the material or master skills. Third, the different pace may be completely appropriate for the student because of the goals of the family and/or the learning style of the student, and the teacher can enjoy the peace of knowing an intentional plan is in place. If there is an honest difference of opinion about the pacing that is affecting relationships, appropriate persons should become a part of the conversation until there is reasonable agreement.
Sometimes, a student gets behind just because he or the family made poor choices or has bad habits. That too needs to be addressed with the teacher. The teacher can usually tell. When the student and parents are forthcoming about the circumstances, express concern about the circumstances, and share the plan to remedy the problem, it helps the teacher and the parents and the student. It is completely appropriate to seek help from other parents and families when new systems and habits are needed. Pretending there is not a problem never works.
Teachers worry when students seem to be without structure and proper covering. It really does wear on teachers when they wonder about families’ intentions to get work done, especially where high school credits are involved. Co-op teachers benefit from the peace of mind that comes from knowing families are faithfully overseeing their students and giving high school credits only where they are earned. Co-op teachers are “only” the co-op teacher, but they are involved, and they care. Parents need to communicate.
Parents should seek out their students’ teachers for reports on how their students are doing in classes. Although the teachers may not have much to say, they should still be asked. They may not have much to say because they see students only for a short time on Fridays. They may not have much to say because some classes and subjects don’t allow for much exposure of the students’ knowledge and preparedness. They may not have much to say because the personality of some students make assessments more difficult or impossible (i.e. a quiet student may be completely up to date and prepared). Thankfully, usually, no news is good news, but if students are not doing well, the parents may learn about problems or concerns only if they draw that information out of the teachers. Teachers often intend to get with parents, but in the busyness of their own lives and the pace of the co-op day, they may forget or delay. Also, the dread of communicating bad news slows down the best intentions. If parents really want to know about their students (and they should), they find the time to have passing conversations with their students’ teachers.
Assessments, grades, and transcripts:
As the teachers and administrators of their homeschools, parents are completely responsible for assessments, grades, and transcripts of their students. They will stand alone to answer for the overall knowledge of subjects and quality of skills gained during the students’ school years.
CHEC’s mission statement:
The mission of Christian Home Educators Co-op of Mt. Pleasant (CHEC) is to enrich the core academic curricula of homeschool students in grades seven through twelve. In addition to that primary mission, CHEC also seeks to provide interesting classes and social opportunities for homeschool children kindergarten through sixth grade. Excellent nursery and preschool classes will be provided for families with children in the kindergarten through twelfth grade CHEC classes.
CHEC does not go outside this mission.
Assessing students is a VERY important part of the educational process. CHEC values it and encourages families to assess their students, but assessment is not part of CHEC’s purpose or mission.
Assessment and testing happen at home. The co-op teachers have approximately twenty-five co-op classes with the students. Because proctoring tests requires neither the location of the co-op building nor special proctoring skills, parents are capable and responsible for the assessment portion of courses taken at co-op. For further explanation of the reasoning behind the no-testing-onsite policy, please click the link at the bottom of this page.
Most of the curricula used at co-op come with assessment tools (quizzes and tests). Occasionally a course will not come with assessment tools. It is up to the parents to find a way to measure their students’ grasp of courses. Some teachers create assessment tools that parents might use at home. Keys will be provided. Teachers may volunteer to help in the marking of papers in the area of their expertise. Teachers should rightly put a time limit on their availability to do so.
Overall course grades:
Parents decide overall course grades for their students. To arrive at a final grade, parents decide what weight is given in a variety of areas like work ethic, daily work, organization, quizzes, tests, cumulative tests, etc. They may seek out co-op teachers for subjective feedback on their students’ overall fitness in class, including things like preparedness, understanding, participation, appropriateness, team work, respect, etc.
Writing teachers and their teams give feedback on assigned papers to grow the writers. Because of limitations of time, the co-op writing teachers usually do not give feedback on second drafts, but parents are encouraged to oversee rewrites incorporating the feedback from the co-op teachers. After all rewrites are done, the home teachers/parents decide the final grades.
One type of assessment co-op teachers may do at co-op:
Co-op teachers may choose to start their class with a very short quiz to assess the students’ understanding of the week’s work. This serves three purposes:
- To give teachers feedback on the effectiveness of the materials, methods, and pacing of the week’s work.
- To provide accountability for the students to keep up with the work to make the enrichment time more useful and effective.
- To give the students and their parents quick feedback on how the students are doing on that week’s material.
The assessments also give the parents and students something to discuss. Is there a learning issue? Is there an organizational issue? Is the student applying the right amount of time and effort to the course? Is the parent providing enough structure and help to support the student?
The assessments may also give the parents and teachers something to discuss. Is the teacher moving at a reasonable pace and communicating well? Is the parent using the class in a unique way that fits the family's goals but is appropriate and takes others into consideration? Is the student appropriately managing himself in class so that the family's plan or pace does not take away from the class?
In-class quizzes are placed in the mailboxes at the end of the day or the next week. The parents now have the information to act on behalf of their students’ education. Parents aiming for mastery may want to require students to spend more time on the material and give the quizzes again. The quiz grades can be another element in calculating final grades for the students.
Parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their children, and are therefore ultimately in control of their children’s education. Being in co-op does not change that. Co-op teachers need to know and enjoy that parents are ultimately responsible before God for their children’s educations. Co-op teachers must remember what was stated earlier: they are 100% successful before God and co-op when they faithfully plan and prepare for their classes, use their class times with the students to enrich their subjects, and communicate appropriately with the parents. The parents and students must take it from there, using co-op as they see fit.
“God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7