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DR. LORI FRIESEN

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Considering Home-Schooling Students This Year? Let’s Talk About the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Show Notes:

On Twitter, a comment was posted suggesting that teachers consider quitting their job and charging $250 a week to home school kids. When you do the math, you could make $50,000 dollars a year teaching only 5 children for 10 months of the year. Bring that number up to 10 kids, and you could be making $100,000 a year, still teaching less than half the students you would in a traditional classroom.

It’s an interesting idea, and not one that I would recommend lightly. However, I thought it would be worthwhile exploring this idea a little further so we can talk about all of the potential pros and cons of this idea, and talk about exactly how you could go about doing something like this for the upcoming school year.

Because here’s the thing:

Even if schools are fully intending to go back with in-person classes this year, we all know because of what happened last year how quickly all of this can change and how quickly kids may be sent home again, forcing everyone to transition to teaching online.

And if your school has already made the decision to start the year online, or if you feel like your school might transition to the online model as I’m suggesting, you might want to check out a brand new resource that I just created called “Transition to Teaching Online: Connect & Create a Safe, Caring Community, Build Ultimate Engagement, & Provide Social & Emotional Support to Your Students."

 

Inside this mini-course, I give you step-by-step PDF resources to relieve your stress about making the transition to teaching online.

I walk you through how to create your online teaching schedule and I give you a fully editable sample schedule so you don’t have to figure all of this out by yourself, and I walk you through exactly how to build that connection with your students and start the year online, if that’s what you need to do.

I give you some awesome resources so you can quickly and easily set up a super cute at-home teaching space, and I give you 22 awesome ideas for how to ultimately engage your students when you’re teaching online, no matter what grade level you’re teaching, from 1st to 5th grade, AND I give you audios for each step in case you prefer to listen on the go instead of reading through each step.

The point is that you don’t have to do any of this alone.

Let’s dive into today’s topic and this idea of possibly teaching a small group of students at home instead of contracting with a school this next school year during this very uncertain time.

We’ll talk about what this might look like, who this might be a good alternative for, the pros and cons of doing something like this, including special legal considerations you may need to think about, and finally, we’ll talk about how I would do this if I were a new teacher considering doing something like this. 

So, first of all, what would this potentially look like?

Well, as I mentioned in the introduction, it could mean working with 5 or more students in your home in some way. If you have the space for it, you could section off a portion of your home where students would be allowed, and ideally, it would be a space where only they would be spending time in to keep your family or any members of your household separate. I would be sure that this space had great ventilation and lot of open windows, if possible, to keep everyone safe.

It would also be awesome if you had some kind of an outdoor space so you could spend some of your time with kiddos teaching and learning outdoors. With only 5 students, it would be much easier to help them to social distance and for you to keep everyone safe. 

The other thing is that this isn’t something you would have to do full-time. If it were me, I would think about maybe only 3-4 hours of school each day, during which you would be helping the children to follow and implement the lessons that the school has sent home for each child to do virtually.

This way, you wouldn’t be the one creating all of the lessons and curriculum. You would be helping these families to stay accountable and on top of their studies – so more like a group tutor than a teacher who needs to create lessons for each child.

Or, you could decide that you only wanted to teach 2nd grade, for example, and then extend the invitation to only families of 2nd grade – and we will talk more about this later on when we talk about how you could the word out to families.

If there’s a particular grade level that you love, you could offer to work with students at only that particular grade level and that way, you could work in some fun supplemental activities like some art and music that you know would be developmentally appropriate for that grade level. That way, the foundational work would all still be the same or similar for each child, but you could supplement with great read-alouds, some calendar work, and like I mentioned, other activities like art, and crafts, and music, that they might not be getting with the online curriculum provided.

The other thing is that even if you don’t have space in your own home to do something like this, there are a lot of buildings that are currently empty – like churches, for example – that might be open to you renting a space for a small fee so you can hold your classes there. 

What I do love about this idea is that you can much more easily control the environment you’re in than you could if you were in a regular classroom setting with a lot more foot traffic. You can ensure that kids wash their hands every 30 minutes or whatever is manageable. You can ensure that they aren’t sharing resources but that they have their own tubs of materials to use, and you can ensure that they maintain social distance with a lot less students in the room. 

Who might this model work for?

Well, if you are a new teacher and you’ve just graduated with your degree and you’re having trouble securing a position for this very strange year, this might be a good alternative for you.

Or, maybe you’re a little nervous about being in a regular classroom with everything that’s going on in our world. Maybe you have some kind of an underlying condition that would make it very difficult for you to be in the regular classroom setting.

Or, lots of teachers who have regular contracts with schools but whose schools have gone online supplement their income by tutoring on the side, so maybe taking on a few students, even for an hour or two each evening, might be an option for you.

Or, maybe you’re a student teacher who is now being forced to take your classes entirely online, and you really want and need more experience working with and teaching students because you aren’t able to work with students in person.

This might be a very interesting option for you, even if you only did it part-time with a few kids. I know that all of the teaching experience I gained when I was tutoring children overseas before I had my own classroom gave me invaluable experience that I could then take into my own classroom.

The point is that now, more than ever, your skills as an educator are valuable and will be needed more than ever this school year as families work to find ways to give their children the support they need in education if they aren’t able to attend school in person.

I know many affluent families who have made the decision to hire a teacher to do exactly what I’m suggesting: Set up a classroom in a home and teach a small group of children from different families, either because their parents either need to work or because they the tremendous value of having a certified teacher helping them to implement the curriculum that the school is requiring their children learn. These parents know that home schooling is not the best option for them or for their children, and they are willing to pay for a certified teacher to help them to do this. 

One of the teachers inside my Beginning Teacher Talk FB group said that she was thinking about doing something like this, but she was concerned that the parents might think that she wouldn’t be able to implement and teach the common core standards.

Here’s the thing: If you’ve graduated with your degree, you are now a credentialed teacher. You have infinitely more skills and qualifications than most parents do when it comes to teaching. It’s just hard to realize how much you actually know because you’re a beginner and you’re trying to figure it all out still.

You might not have the confidence in yourself yet that others will have in you, but you are more capable and qualified than you even realize yet. 

The way you become more qualified is through experience, and so this might be a gentle introduction to teaching standards for you if you only need to do it with a small group of children to start with and with curriculum and activities that are already being sent home from the school.

Those are all pros of considering doing something like this during the next school year, but...

What are the potential cons of setting up your own mini-classroom? 

Of course, there are the safety concerns. If you were to do something like this, you would need to very carefully read through the recommended protocols not only on the CDC website, but also, be familiar with what the school’s protocols are for the students who you would be teaching.

Click here to access the CDC website now and read the latest recommendations for schools.

Schools have spent the past several months this past summer coming up with safety protocols, so knowing what these are and ensuring that they would be followed in your mini classroom would be extremely important. You can easily find that information by going online to that school’s website, because they will need to have posted all of this information for parents.

Also, I would recommend that you consult a lawyer to talk about the legalities around doing something like this. Will you need to set up any kind of an LLC in order to do this? I am not a lawyer and I cannot give legal advice, and I would recommend that you find out what kind of a contract you would need to do something like this so that you are protected.

Also, find out if you would need some kind of insurance to protect you. Even though we don’t want to think about it, if something does go wrong or if a child gets sick, you do not want any of that to come back on you.

I’m not saying any of this to try to scare you or to suggest that you shouldn’t teach children at home this year. As I mentioned, I know a lot of educated, upper-class families who have weighed the pros and cons of doing something like this and they have decided that their preference is to have a trained educator take on their child’s distance learning and give their children the structure and the accountability that they need. 

 

If you’re interested in doing something like this, how would you go about it?

  1. Well, if it were me, I would first consult with a lawyer in the state or province where I live to find out what I need to do to protect myself. I think that’s a really important first step to ensure that everyone is clear about what your role and responsibilities are, and in turn, what families need to do to ensure that you stay safe.

    Remember, they also will need to agree to limit their interactions outside their families to protect you as well. So just find out what kind of a contract you would need to ensure everyone’s protection.

  2. Secondly, to get the word out, I would contact the PTA – the Parent Teacher Association – at the school or schools where you are considering teaching children from. Maybe there’s a particular school in your neighborhood that you know is more upper class and where that population would likely be interested in something like this. Tell them that you have your education degree and that you are a credentialled teacher, and that you are willing to work with students on their distance learning curriculum, in addition to supplementary activities, for 3 or 4 hours each day, (or whatever you are willing to do), and that you will only take students in a particular grade level.

    All it takes is for one group of parents who are already friends at that grade level to decide that that is what they want for their child and you may have a ready-made class of kiddos.

  3. You might want to reach out to the PTA at several schools and see what kind of a response you get, and that way, you can have some choice and options to decide what might be best for you and for your specific circumstances. You also could put out the offer on social media for your area to see what kind of a response you get, but again,

  4. Be sure that you have everything in place in terms of a specific contract and clear systems set up for how you will ensure that kids stay safe and socially distanced as much as possible while they’re in your care. You’ll also want clear language around what the protocol is if one child starts showing any kind of symptoms so you can keep everyone safe.

What is so interesting about this entire COVID experience is how differently everyone is reacting to it. Some parents and teachers, as I’ve already mentioned, have taken a very practical and pragmatic approach that is not devoid of fear, but grounded in giving children opportunities for as much normalcy as possible in a very bizarre situation.

Other parents and teachers have responded with complete fear, not wanting to take any chances in any format, and preferring to keep their kids in the bubble of safety at home, while still other parents are somewhere in between.

As you’ve listened to everything I’ve said here, you might have had a range of reactions, from “Oh my gosh is she crazy? That’s impossible!” to “I had never thought of that – that’s a great idea.”

The thing is, no reaction is wrong. We are all reacting to what’s going on in our world in our own ways. So as I’ve mentioned these ideas, it’s only to share what some teachers and families are doing, and I want to be clear that I’m not encouraging you one way or the other.

My hope in talking about this today is to give you another avenue of thought, another way of thinking about possibilities, and to help you to think through the pros and the cons of something like this. My main priority, as always, is going to be your safety and your ability to thrive. And that’s going to look different for each one of you.

I hope you’ll join my Beginning Teacher Talk private FB group so we can continue to talk about this and to explore possibilities together as we all work to navigate this strange new abnormal we’re living in. I don’t think it’s a new normal at all. It’s a strange, new abnormal.

Again, what I love more than anything is ideas.

I love new ideas, I love to think flexibly and creatively, and I feel very fortunate because new ideas just pour into me all day long, and that’s one of the reasons why I love creating mini courses and trainings for you, because the sheer amount of ideas I can share with you and the flexible ways of thinking about things are some of my biggest strengths.

So, if your school decides that the best thing for the staff and students at your school is to transition to teaching online and you want some great ideas for how you can do that and keep your kiddos uber-engaged and connected with you, even when you have to teach online, I invite you to check out my new mini-course called “Transition to Teaching Online: Connect & Create a Safe, Caring Community, Build Ultimate Engagement, & Provide Social & Emotional Support to Your Students.

All right, I hope you have a fabulous week, and remember – just because you're a beginning elementary teacher, there's no need for you to struggle like one... even during COVID-19.

Bye for now,

πŸ’› Lori

Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor

Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at drlorifriesen.com and at howdogshelpkids.com.

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