Information for Instructors

Course Proposal Form
Due Fri 2 Feb 2024

Course History

Instructor Information Form
Due Fri 9 Feb 2024

Community Expectations

Course Details Form
Due Fri 5 Apr 2024

COVID-19 Policies

Information for Instructors

We recognize that there is a lot of information here, but it’s information every instructor at PHS needs to know before submitting a course proposal.


About Planet Homeschool

Planet Homeschool is a secular homeschool co-op for middle school and high school students ages 10–19 years (5th–12th grades). Our co-op is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for students from diverse backgrounds. Our membership includes many transgendered and neurodivergent students and students at higher risk of becoming very ill from COVID-19. Our families have a variety of educational philosophies and styles.

About Us


The Basics

Who can teach a course?

Instructors may be interested members of the community or family members of current and past PHS students.

Instructors with a strong background in working with teens and who are actively engaged in their fields are highly sought after at Planet Homeschool.

Parents, guardians, and caregivers of current PHS students are encouraged to consider what knowledge and expertise they have to share and to propose classes to share their skills and their passions with our community of learners!

Instructors may make use of student assistants.

Who can propose a course?

Proposals can be made by current students and their parents, guardians or caregivers, current instructors, and prospective new instructors. They can even be made by prospective new students and their parents, guardians, or caregivers.

When should I propose a course?

Course proposals (also called “course suggestions” and “course ideas”) for the following academic year are typically due by the last Friday of January. The instructor availability form is due by the first Friday of February. Full details for courses selected for inclusion on our course schedule are typically due by the first Friday of April with the full course schedule announced on the second Friday, class registration for Fall Semester opening to renewed members on the third, and an Open House with class registration open to new members held on the fourth Friday of April. Please consult our co-op’s calendar for the exact dates.


What ages and grade levels are PHS Students?

All Planet Homeschool classes are restricted to students ages 10–19.

Courses may be for the entire 10–19 age range or restricted to a smaller age range (most commonly to either middle school or high school students).

  • High-school courses are typically for ages 14–19 or 9th–12th grades.

  • Secondary-school courses are typically for ages 12–19 or 7th–12th grades

  • Middle-school courses are typically for ages 10–14 or 5th–8th grades.

  • Other courses are offered for both middle school and high school students, ages 10–19.

Instructors should be prepared to teach the full age range for whom their course is advertised so that all enrolled students have a meaningful educational experience.

Exceptions to the Stated Age Range

Classes at Planet Homeschool are restricted by age, not by grade level, and our class registration system automatically restricts registration to the age range stated. To provide a successful educational experience for every student in the classroom, exceptions should not be granted to academically advanced younger children. Many of our co-op’s older students are also academically advanced, and success in a group learning environment depends on more than academic readiness.

When considering granting an individual exception, please take into account both the social and interpersonal skills needed to succeed in a group learning environment and any possible impact on students in the advertised age range. Because registration restrictions can only be overridden by a website admin, you will need to email your request to permit an individual exception to our co-op’s Lead Volunteers at To ensure that instructor permission has been granted, override requests should come from the instructor, not from the family.

Instructors cannot allow students younger than 10 to register for classes.

About Us: Ages


What sort of courses are taught at Planet Homeschool?

Courses in all subjects are of interest to PHS students, and the following have been offered at PHS: sciences, engineering, mathematics, humanities, visual arts, performing arts, literature, English, foreign languages, history, physical education, social sciences, trades and crafts, and more. Please consult our co-op’s Course History for examples.

Course content must be secular, objective, and age-appropriate. While religious content may be included from a cultural, historical, sociological, or anthropological perspective, classes at PHS should have no religious teachings or practices. Science classes at PHS should use curriculum and materials that include and present scientific facts, principles, models, and theories as recommended by the majority of practicing experts in the field of study. Topics covered may include evolution, the Big Bang, climate change, and global warming.

Instructors set their own course plans. While a syllabus is not required, families will appreciate a course overview and/or schedule.

Avoiding Direct Competition

It is our co-op’s policy to avoid direct competition between courses and instructors. That means that Planet Homeschool is not going to offer two different courses teaching Spanish but will offer German, Japanese, Spanish, and American Sign Language (assuming there is room on our co-op’s schedule for all of those and instructors available to teach them).

What constitutes direct competition is not always clear, so we strive to be both flexible and fair.

Planet Homeschool has offered courses that complemented or supported each other. For example, a Fall semester deep dive into Macbeth and Stage Combat taught by one instructor team and a Spring Semester stage production of Macbeth taught by another with a separate technical theater course to create the costumes, props, and set taught by a third.

Prospective new instructors should reach out to our co-op’s Lead Volunteers via email to inquire about whether or not their topic area is already covered.


How are courses chosen?

Course proposals are compiled into a Course Interest Survey with February voting open to both current and prospective students.

Our co-op’s Lead Volunteer team meets in late February or early March and works together to use the top choices from the Course Interest Survey to create a course schedule with a balance of age ranges and subjects while taking into account instructor availability and classroom space needs.

Our goal is to create a 25-course schedule with:


How to propose a course

(1) Course proposals should be submitted using either our co-op’s Course Proposal Form (also called the Course Suggestion Form or the Course Idea Form). The more complete you are in making a course proposal, the more likely it is that you’ve provided enough of a teaser for your course to be selected by our members.

(2) For a course to be placed on the final course schedule, an Instructors Details form must be completed by the end of the voting period for the Course Interest Survey (usually mid-February). This form collects essential information about instructor availability and confirms that all instructors understand and agree to abide by our co-op’s policies.

(3) A Course Details form must be completed promptly for any course proposal that makes it onto our final schedule and is usually due in early April. This form is designed to guide you through gathering all of the little bits of information we need to get your course entered into our online class registration system.

Check out our co-op’s Course History page for examples and see our co-op’s calendar for exact deadline dates.

Brainstorming Session

The All-Member Brainstorming Session is held in late January. The Brainstorming Session is open to all members — meaning students and their parents, guardians, and caregivers. Current and returning instructors may also attend as it’s an opportunity to discuss course ideas with students and their parents, guardians, and caregivers. While this is very uncommon, prospective new instructors may also attend with prior approval requested and received from All Course Proposals received at least 24 hours prior to the Brainstorming Session will be shared there.

Co-op volunteers will often reach out to the larger community seeking instructors for course suggestions requested by our co-op’s members. Instructors may wish to join the Facebook Group Homeschool Co-ops Connect with Teachers to keep abreast of these types of requests.


How much does it cost?

The Instructor Class Fee is $10 per course. The maximum fee is $40 per semester. (Fees current for 2023–2024.)

This fee will be due before the first day of class but after your course has both met its Minimum Student Number and passed its Minimum Student Date.

This fee helps to cover our co-op’s overhead expenses in providing a space for you to teach, such as rent, this website, and supplies. Instructors who are also co-op members will have this fee waived as their contribution towards those overhead expenses will be made via their membership fee payment.

This is a per-course fee, not a per-instructor class fee.


There is an additional single $10 annual fee (not per course and not per semester) for each additional website account requested. Co-instructors may also opt to share a single website account (shared accounts is the most common approach used by co-instructors).


Planet Homeschool Is Not a School

Planet Homeschool is a homeschool co-op, not a school. Planet Homeschool does not and cannot hire instructors. Instead, our co-op members co-operatively decide together what courses our children want to take in a group setting and then work together to find instructors to teach those courses and pool resources to provide a space for those courses to be taught, and otherwise ensure our children can have a group learning experience.

Instructors are hired by the individual families whose children enroll in their courses, not by Planet Homeschool.



Communicating with Lead Volunteers

Instructors are expected to provide our co-op’s Lead Volunteers with an email address where they can be reliably reached … “I never check that email address” is not an acceptable reason for failing to respond.

Please watch for email requests from co-op volunteers for either further details about your course or for you to review your course’s entry in member surveys to ensure it is represented accurately during voting by our members, or to proofread your course’s entry on our class registration system should your course be selected.

During the course selection process, most communications will be sent via email from, so you should ensure your email provider recognizes that address as a legitimate sender. This can often be accomplished by adding the email address to your safe sender list, address book, and/or contacts but may require additional measures.

Some emails will be sent from the personal email addresses of individual volunteers.

After your course is selected, co-op communications are primarily posted to our co-op forums and are sent via email from, so you should also ensure your email provider recognizes that address as a legitimate sender.

Instructors are expected to keep abreast of co-op-related communications and to respond promptly to communications from our co-op’s Lead Volunteers.

Instructors are also expected to provide our co-op’s Lead Volunteers with a phone number where they can be reliably reached.

Instructors are encouraged to follow our co-op on Facebook and Twitter.


Communicating With Students and Their Families

Instructors are expected to respond promptly to communications from both current and prospective students and their parents, guardians, or caregivers.

Your Class Home Page provides enrolled students with a dedicated Class Forum and the ability to send short messages about specific assignments. These will be sent via email from

Some communications from students and their families may be forwarded from and others will be sent from the personal email addresses of individual students or their parents, guardians, or caregivers. These email addresses will be included on your Class Roster.

Fostering Student Success

Instructors should reach out to the parents, guardians, or caregivers of students who are struggling in class to talk about what additional support their students may need and request their assistance in helping their students succeed.

Although unusual, instructors may request a family provide an adult classroom assistant (usually the student’s parent, guardian, or caregiver) to work one-on-one with a student so that the student may fully participate in the class.

Instructors may also reach out to our co-op’s Lead Volunteers for advice with helping ensure every student has a positive and rewarding educational experience.


Student Absences and Withdrawals

While instructors are not expected to use the attendance tracking tool, they are expected to notice when students stop attending class and to reach out to their families to find out what’s up and if anything can be adjusted to help the student reconnect and succeed.

Instructors should also let our co-op’s Lead Volunteers know so that a volunteer can reach out to help the family successfully navigate our co-op.

Instructors should inform our co-op’s Lead Volunteers if a student stops attending or formally withdraws from a course for any reason. This may be the only way our co-op’s leadership has of finding out that a family has stopped attending, and it causes a great deal of consternation if a family expresses shock or outrage when they find they are still scheduled for Onsite Volunteer duties even though they have not attended classes for weeks.


Community Expectations

Instructors are expected to be familiar with Planet Homeschool Community Expectations and the policies linked to therein, to treat all students, their parents, guardians, and caregivers, and other instructors respectfully, to work to create a safe and welcoming space for everyone, and to share feedback in a constructive way.

Community Expectations

Classroom Policies

Instructors are expected to abide by all co-op policies but may set additional guidelines for their classrooms, including policies for late registrations and late cancellations and on expected and acceptable behavior during class.


Co-op Schedule


Fall semester is 12 weeks long and typically starts the second Friday of September and runs through the second Friday of December with no classes on the third Friday of October or the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Spring semester is 16 weeks long and typically starts the first Friday after January 6th and runs through the first Friday of May plus the second Friday of May as a scheduled inclement-weather makeup day with no classes on the Friday before Presidents Day (which is the third Monday of February) or Good Friday.

This schedule is subject to change.

Courses can be single-semester or full-year programs.

Course proposals must specify if the course is intended to be:

  • a 12-week 15-hour Fall Semester course

  • a 16-week 20-hour Spring Semester course

  • a 28-week 35-hour full-year course (spring content builds on fall content)

  • either a 12-week Fall Semester or a 16-week Spring Semester course

  • both a 12-week Fall Semester and a 16-week Spring Semester course (spring content is independent of fall content)

Full Year Courses

Instructors can choose whether students can register separately for fall and spring semesters or for the full year. When registering for the full year, families will still pay tuition by semester.

Instructors need to decide if they will allow new students to join for Spring Semester or if they will limit spring registration to continuing students only (those registered for the Fall Semester).

If new students are allowed to join for Spring Semester, instructors should include information in the spring course description about how new students will be caught up or otherwise integrated into the course.


Additional Dates

It may be possible to add a few additional dates to your course schedule. These are typically either field trips or dress rehearsal and performance dates for performing arts courses.

  • Please state clearly whether any additional dates are required or optional.

  • If you wish to use our co-op’s space at Faith UMC, our co-op’s Lead Volunteers will need to inquire with the church beforehand to see if the space is available and if there will be any additional cost to use it.

  • If your course is selected to be offered, our co-op’s Lead Volunteers will need to know the actual dates and times of the additional days by mid-April. This information should be included on your Course Details Form.


Atypical Semesters

While this is not common, it is possible to teach:

  • two half-semester courses

    • two 6-week sessions for Fall Semester

    • two 8-week sessions for Spring Semester

  • a 12-week course during the 16-week spring semester.


Planned Absences

For the overall continuity of our co-op’s operations and expectations, classes should be held each week, barring illness or other unforeseeable emergencies.

Instructors should plan any scheduled absence to coincide with our co-op's vacation days, of which there are two each semester. The following vacation days schedule is subject to change, so please consult our co-op calendar for exact dates:

  • Fall Break: The week of the second Friday of October — Nourish 282 leases our space for their annual Free Store
  • Thanksgiving Break: The week of Thanksgiving (which is the fourth Thursday of November)
  • Mid-Winter Break: The week before Presidents’ Day (which is the third Monday of February)
  • Spring Break: The week of Good Friday (the Friday before Easter, which is the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Spring equinox) — Faith needs their space for their own programs
  • plus Winter Break: 3 weeks between the Fall and Spring Semesters in late December and early January

We do recognize that life is complicated, so if you find you cannot avoid a scheduled absence (whether that means starting late, ending early, or missing a week mid-semester), this information must be included with your Course Proposal and will be published as part of your course description.

Your students will still be at PHS even though you are not. Any scheduled absences should have a backup plan to keep students learning and to ensure students have adult supervision in the classroom during their absence:

  • Hire a substitute instructor: a colleague, former student (graduate), or an experienced parent, guardian, or caregiver.

  • Provide students with a plan for independent work to cover the material for the week. You will still need to arrange for adult supervision in the classroom.

  • Holding a makeup day on an alternate day, either online or in-person at an alternate location. (PHS’s leased space is not available for use outside of our co-op’s scheduled days and times.) The date, time, format, and location must be set before registration opens and will be included in your course description so that students know prior to signing up whether or not they will be able to fully participate in the course. You will still need to arrange for adult supervision in the classroom on the day of your absence.

If you are unable to arrange for a substitute instructor or schedule a make-up date in advance, then your tuition should be adjusted to reflect the shortened schedule.

Unsupervised unoccupied students are disruptive to other classes and overwhelming to our Onsite Volunteers. Cancelled first and fourth-period classes can reduce the number of students available for setup and cleanup, resulting in other first-period classes starting late due to delays in completing setup or forcing the families who are present for the fourth period to stay later to finish cleanup.

In addition to any planned absences, instructors may need to unexpectedly cancel classes due to illness, family emergency, transportation failures, or other unforeseeable circumstances. The combination can negatively impact the learning experience for students and affects our co-op's reputation as a place where homeschooled families can meet their educational goals.

For these reasons, we prefer that instructors be available to teach the full semester for structure and consistency across all classes.


Daily Schedule

In-person classes meet once a week on Fridays with four class periods. (We are experimenting with a fifth period for 2023–2024.) Online classes are scheduled to meet once a week on a day other than Friday.

Class periods are 75 minutes long (1 hour and 15 minutes).

Instructors should arrive at class prepared to teach, begin class on time, teach for the full class period, and end class on time.

  • Setup Period: 9:00 AM–9:15 AM (15 minutes)

  • First Period: 9:15 AM–10:30 AM (75 minutes)

  • Room Transition Period: 10:30 AM–10:35 AM (5 minutes)

  • Second Period: 10:35 AM–11:50 AM (75 minutes)

  • Room Transition Period: 11:50 AM–11:55 AM (5 minutes)

  • Lunch Period: 11:55 AM –12:25 PM (30 minutes)

  • Room Transition Period: 12:25 PM–12:30 PM (5 minutes)

  • Third Period: 12:30 PM–1:45 PM (75 minutes)

  • Room Transition Period: 1:45 PM–3:05 PM (5 minutes)

  • Fourth Period: 1:50 PM–3:05 PM (75 minutes)

  • Cleanup Period: 3:05 PM–3:20 PM (15 minutes or until it is done)

  • Experimental fifth period: 3:15 PM–4:30 PM with cleanup completed by 4:45 PM.

There is a 5-minute break between class periods. Instructors and students are expected to work together to ensure that there is time to both clean up from the prior class and set up for the next one.

  • If you need more than 5 minutes for setup, you should plan on teaching either first or third periods.

  • If you need more than 5 minutes for cleanup, you should plan on teaching either second or fourth periods.

  • If you need more than 5 minutes for both setup and cleanup, you should let our co-op’s Lead Volunteers know via your Instructor Detail Form.

There is a 30-minute lunch break between second and third periods (40 minutes if you include the 5-minute break before and after lunch, but that time is needed for cleaning up classrooms and setting up the fellowship hall for lunch and then for cleaning up lunch and setting up classrooms for third-period classes).

Course proposals must specify:

  1. Which class periods an instructor prefers.

  2. Which class periods an instructor can make work.

  3. Which class periods are not an option for an instructor.

If you are submitting multiple course proposals, be sure to tell us:

  • How you would prefer your courses be ordered.

  • Which class periods you most prefer in case not all of your proposed courses are offered.

Instructors teaching multiple courses will (almost always) be assigned consecutive class periods. Some instructors request to have a scheduled break between classes. There have been a few unusual situations in the past when an instructor has been asked if they can accept a break in order to make the entire schedule work out.

Prospective new instructors typically start by teaching a single course per semester, although exceptions have been made to fill specific needs, offer options for both middle school and high school, or provide complimentary courses.

Atypical class periods

While this is not common, it is possible to teach two 30-minute classes during a single 75-minute class period. It is also possible to teach a 60-minute class, but unless families are informed of the reduced class time before registering for the course, all classes should otherwise be planned for the full 75-minute class period.

Our co-op is unlikely to support a request to teach a 90-minute or 2-hour class as it disrupts students’ ability to register for other courses, but any such classes would need to be timed to start at the same time as the first or third period or to end at the same time as second or fourth period.


Professional Liability Insurance

Instructors should obtain their own professional liability insurance as Planet Homeschool’s general liability insurance does not cover instructors.


Commitment to teach

While we know that unforeseeable circumstances can arise, we don’t want to ask our students to vote for your proposed course if you’re not committed to teaching it if it is chosen (provided your semester and class period choices can be honored).


Recap of Essential Information for Prospective New Instructors

  1. Planet Homeschool is a co-op, not a school

  2. Course proposals should be unique.

  3. Start with a single course.

  4. Interest doesn’t always equal commitment.

  5. Communication is key.


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