Information for Instructors at PHS

We recognize that there is a lot of information here, but it’s information every instructor at PHS needs to know. Instructors are encouraged to further explore our co-op on this website before submitting a course proposal.

Planet Homeschool is a secular homeschool co-op for middle school and high school students ages 10–19 years. We welcome students from diverse backgrounds and our families have a variety of educational philosophies and styles.

We are located in Saint Anthony Village (Minnesota).

Who can teach a class?

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

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

Instructors may make use of student assistants.

Who can propose a class?

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

How courses are chosen

Courses are selected by current co-op members via run-off or ranked-choice voting. The Lead Volunteers then work together to use the winning proposals to create a class schedule with a balance of age ranges and subjects taking into account teacher availability and available classroom space.

A tentative schedule of courses is available around the time of our co-op’s spring Open House Party at the end of April.

How to propose a class

Course proposals can be submitted in one of three ways:

  1. Using our Course Proposal Form
    This is our preferred method as it will guide you through the information we need and all the information you need!
  2. Via email to the Lead Volunteers
    If a class you want to teach is selected for inclusion on the schedule, you will still need to complete the Course Proposal Form by the end of March so that volunteers have all the information needed for our website.
  3. At the brainstorming session held in late January
    This gathering is open to current PHS member only.

We understand that you may not have all the necessary information yet and recognize that course concepts may be in the early planning stages. While you may not have all the details, please enter as much information as possible. The more complete you are in your proposal, the more likely you’ve provided enough of a teaser for your course to be selected by our students. Visit our current Class Registration page for examples.

While it is not necessary to provide complete information to propose a course, you will need to complete the entire Course Proposal Form if your class is chosen to be offered. Complete information will be due before the end of March. You’ll also be able to return to the Course Proposal Form and revise it as you gather the rest of the information or email updates to the Lead Volunteers.

Current and past instructors do not need to fill out a new Course Proposal Form to repeat a previously offered class, but they do need to email the Lead Volunteers to let know them know that they are interested in teaching the class again.

When to propose a course

Course proposals for the following academic year should be submitted before the last Friday of January.

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.

Age range

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

  • Middle-school courses are typically for ages 10–14 or 5th–8th grades.
  • High-school courses are typically for ages 14–19 or 9th–12th grades.
  • It is not uncommon to restrict courses to ages 12–19 or 7th–12th grades (or what was once known as Junior High and Senior High)

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.

Homeschool-Life will automatically restrict registration to the age range selected. While instructors can grant individual exceptions to Planet Homeschool members, they cannot allow students younger than 10 to register as co-op membership is not open to students ages 9 and younger. When granting exceptions to younger students, instructors should take into account the social and interpersonal skills needed to succeed in a group learning environment and any possible impact on students in the advertised age range.

Independent Contractors

Instructors at Planet Homeschool are independent contractors hired directly by the parents and guardians of the students enrolled in their courses.

Co-op Schedule

Fall semester dates are typically from the second Friday in September through the second Friday in December Sep 10–Dec 10 with no classes on first Friday of October or the Friday after Thanksgiving (12 weeks).

Spring semester dates are typically from the first Friday after January 6th through the first Friday in May with no classes on Good Friday (16 weeks plus the first Friday in May as a scheduled make-up day).

This schedule is subject to change.

Courses can be single semester or full-year (28 weeks) programs. Proposals should specify if the course is intended to be 12-weeks, 16-weeks, or 28-weeks. If a course can be adapted to any length, be sure to state that.

While this is not common, it is possible to teach two half-semester courses or to teach a 12-week course during the 16-week spring semester.

It may be possible to add a few additional dates to your class schedule (such as field trips or dress rehearsal and performance dates for performing arts courses).

  • Please let us know if any additional dates are required or optional.
  • If you wish to use our space at Faith UMC, we 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, we will need to know the actual dates and times of the additional days before the end of March.

Daily Schedule

We meet once a week on Fridays with four class periods:

  • Set-Up Period: 9:00 AM – 9:15 AM (15 minutes)
  • First Period: 9:15 AM – 10:30 AM (75 minutes)
  • Second Period: 10:35 AM – 11:50 AM (75 minutes)
  • Lunch Period: 11:55 AM –12:25 PM (30 minutes)
  • Third Period: 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM (75 minutes)
  • Fourth Period: 1:50 PM – 3:05 PM (75 minutes)
  • Clean-Up Period: 3:05 PM – 3:20 PM (15 minutes or until it is done)

Proposals should specify (1) which class periods an instructor prefers, (2) which class periods an instructor can make work, and (3) which class periods are not an option for an instructor.

If you are submitting multiple course proposal, be sure to tell us about how you would prefer they be ordered or 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. (There have been a few unusual situations in the past when an instructor has been asked if they can accept a break between classes taught in order to make the entire schedule work out.)

Classes are 75-minutes long (1 hour and 15 minutes). 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 students are informed beforehand, all classes should otherwise be planned for the full 75-minute class period.

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.

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

Minimum and Maximum Number of Students

Small class sizes are highly valued by homeschoolers. Historically, courses at PHS have averaged 8 students with the vast majority of courses fairly evenly distributed in a shallow bell curve between 4 to 12 students.

Please consider your minimum number carefully. This is not your ideal number of students but the smallest number for whom you are willing to teach this class. Historically, the most common minimum numbers are either 4 or 5 students.

The most common maximum number is 15 students. Three of our classrooms won’t comfortably seat more than 16 or so people, one will comfortably seat only about 8 people, one could theoretically squeeze in 36 tightly-packed people (that’s never been tested), and the Fellowship Hall can accommodate a larger number and is generally reserved for classes needing space for significant student movement.

Cancellation of Courses That Have Not Met Their Minimum Registration Requirements.

To allow both students and instructors time to make alternative plans, courses that have not enrolled their minimum number of students by their “Minimum Student Date” aka “Low Enrollment Cancellation Deadline” will be canceled.

Cancelation is automatic. If your class does not reach its minimum registration number before midnight GMT on your chosen “Minimum Student Date,” all current registrations will be canceled automatically, but you’ll need to issue refunds manually — the money part is not automated.

Students may continue to register for all non-canceled courses after the class’s “Minimum Student Date.”

Instructors are encouraged to monitor their registration numbers as any requests to adjust minimum enrollment numbers must be made before their “Minimum Student Date.” If it appears that your class will not meet your minimum number of students by your deadline:

  1. You may opt to lower your minimum number of students, but you are also then committing to teaching the class with that lower number.
  2. You may opt to extend your “Minimum Student Date.”
  3. You may opt to adjust your age range, if applicable, within the PHS age range of 10-year-old middle school students through 19-year-old high school students.

Requests for changes must be emailed to the Lead Volunteers before your “Minimum Student Date.”

PHS Registration Historical Data Analysis

  • 33% of registrations happened the day registration opens
  • registrations dribbled in at a fairly steady rate after that
  • 75% of registrations were completed by 4 weeks prior to the start of classes
  • 80% of registrations were completed by 3 weeks prior
  • 85% of registrations were completed by 2 weeks prior
  • 90% of registrations were completed by 1 week prior
  • 10% of registrations happened during the week immediately before classes begin

You’re encouraged to consult a calendar to ensure you don’t select a major holiday as your deadline date. If you do not set a Minimum Student Date, your deadline will be assumed to be 2 weeks prior to the start of classes. While “x weeks before” is the most common option, you may set it for 10 days prior, 3 days prior, etc.

Late Registrations

Instructors may also choose the last day that students can register for each of their courses. If you do not set a class registration deadline, the deadline will be assumed to be before the 2nd week of classes.

A note about registration dates

Since instructors who are not also PHS members do not register for courses, your website account will be assigned to a non-registering section. That means that you may see “Signup for this class will open on 12/31/2999 at 12:00 AM CST." Rest assured that class registration will open on time for co-op members. (It is a long-standing feature request with Homeschool-Life for the non-registering sections to instead display no date.)

Planet Homeschool Refund Policy

Your “Minimum Student Date” is also the last day that those registered for the class may ask to cancel their registration and be guaranteed a full refund.

  • Instructors must promptly refund all tuition and supply fees for class registrations canceled by midnight on a class’s “Minimum Student Date” Date.
  • Cancellation requests must be forwarded manually by a lead volunteer, so it is conceivable that you will not be notified of an on-time cancellation request until the next day.
  • Refunds are not issued automatically. Instructors must log in to their PayPal accounts and manually issue refunds.

Currently, PayPal states that while there are no new fees to issue the refund, the fees you were originally charged will not be returned to you, but you are responsible for knowing and understanding PayPal’s current refund policies.

Refund policy for late cancellation requests

Instructors set their own refund policies for cancellations after the class’s “Minimum Student Date.”

You can offer no refunds, partial refunds, or even full refunds. You can offer to refund only if a replacement is found or only if the cancellation does not drop the class below its minimum registration number. You can refund the supply fee but not the tuition or the tuition but not the supply fee.

Our location

All classes take place at Faith United Methodist Church, 2708 33rd Ave NE, Saint Anthony Village, MN 55418. Faith UMC is on 33rd Ave between Stinson Blvd and Silver Lake Rd. There is a large parking lot and a bike rack, and Metro Transit Route 25 stops at the corner.

(Because Saint Anthony Village shares the 55418 ZIP Code and Post Office with northeast Minneapolis, the address for Faith UMC will often come up as in Minneapolis rather than as in Saint Anthony Village.)

Instructors, students, and parents should enter Faith UMC using the south door at the back of the building (this door leads directly into the ground-floor classroom hallway, so it is also the most convenient door to use). An exception is made for instructors bringing in and removing supplies for classes in the fellowship hall and kitchen, who may make use of the closer east door for loading and unloading purposes only.

Physical Space

Planet Homeschool has access to 7 classroom spaces at Faith UMC, including the church’s kitchen and fellowship hall.

  • The Fellowship Hall is generally reserved for courses needing space for significant student movement (fencing, dancing, theater, etc.).
  • Two of the five regular classrooms have a sink.
  • One classroom has an electric stovetop and oven in addition to its sink.
  • Two classrooms and the Fellowship Hall have a piano.
  • Three classrooms are approximately 23x20 feet (including the room with a sink and stove), one is closer to 20x20 feet, and one is about 14x16 feet (and has the other sink). Church furniture takes up some floor space in each room.
  • All but one classroom has a whiteboard, but we have a portable whiteboard for use in that room. The kitchen does not have a whiteboard. The Fellowship Hall does. PHS supplies dry erase markers and cleaner.
  • Our kitchen access includes the use of gas stovetop, gas oven, refrigerator (food may NOT be stored between class sessions), sink, and a Hobart dishwasher. Additional equipment should be supplied by the instructor, including bowls, utensils, and cleaning supplies. (Instructors may require students to supply some or all of their tools.) Health regulations must be followed for food handling and clean up.
  • One classroom and the Fellowship Hall do not have outside windows, although both have windows into the Fellowship Hall foyer.

On-site storage is limited but available. Instructors should expect to transport the bulk of their materials and equipment to and from PHS weekly. If equipment or supplies need to be stored on site, email the Lead Volunteers to make arrangements in advance to ensure adequate space can be made available.

Feature Room 1
~23x20'
Room 2
~20x20'
Room 3
~23x20'
Room 4
~23x20'
Room 5
~14x16'
Fellowship Hall Kitchen
outside windows    
whiteboard portable portable
piano        
room for significant student movement     limited      
sink        
electric stovetop and oven            
gas stovetop and oven            
refrigerator            
Hobart dishwasher            

It is helpful if proposals can include information about physical space needs such as access to a sink, stove, piano, larger floor space, etc.

  • Tables are standard plastic-topped 6x2½-foot banquet tables. Depending on the preferred room layout and tabletop space needed by students, tables can seat between 2 to 6 students.
  • Chairs are standard metal folding chairs.

Room Set-Up

Students are responsible for setting up the classrooms according to instructor preferences. Set-up for the day begins at 9:00 AM. Students will set up classrooms for their first class but also make sure that any additional tables and chairs needed for the second, third, or fourth periods are in the room (folded up and tucked out of the way).

To facilitate set-up, room layouts are provided in each room’s clean-up bucket that show how tables and chairs are to be placed for the first class in the room and what needs to be stowed in the room for subsequent classes. Instructors are expected to work with Lead Volunteers to ensure they have the information they need to create these layouts and to email them about any necessary revisions.

In general, preschool-sized tables are moved to the side and preschool-sized chairs are stacked on top of them. In some cases, preschool tables are stacked on top of each other to create more floor space. Then standard-height 6-foot x 2½-foot folding tables and standard folding chairs are brought from the storage closet in the back of the Fellowship Hall and set up according to instructor preference.

Any additional tables and chairs needed for subsequent classes are also brought to the room during the set-up period. They are stowed folded up and out of the way. This is done so that will be no need to disrupt classes in the Fellowship Hall to obtain them later.

Click for some sample room layouts.

Room Clean-Up

Students are also responsible for cleaning up the space between classes and at the end of co-op.

While an On-Site Volunteer will be on hand to direct clean-up, instructors are encouraged to remind students of this responsibility at the end of fourth period.

Students should wash whiteboards, wipe down tables and chairs, return folding tables and chairs to the closet in the Fellowship Hall, return church furniture to the church’s preferred set up, vacuum carpets, and sweep floors. Cleaning supplies are provided.

Accessibility

All classrooms are located on the ground floor. The fellowship hall and kitchen are a third-floor lower than the classrooms but there is a ramp between the two levels.

Doors are not automatic or power-assisted and door handles are old-fashioned knobs rather than levers.

There is one single-occupancy restroom (plus one single-occupancy restroom with preschool-sized fixtures). Another restroom offers two stalls and two sinks. A third offers one stall, one urinal, and one sink.

Tuition and supplies fees

Tuition is typically between $8 to $12 per student per hour.

  • There are 15 hours per 12-week Fall Semester, so Fall courses are typically between $120 and $180 per student
  • There are 20 hours per 16-week Spring Semester, so Spring courses are typically between $160 and $240 per student

Tuition should reflect the instructor’s educational qualifications, expertise in the subject matter, and experience with teaching. When setting your tuition and supplies fee, also keep in mind the economic reality that homeschool families tend to be single-income families with limited budgets.

How are instructors paid?

Instructors at Planet Homeschool are independent contractors hired directly by the parents and guardians of the students enrolled in their courses. They are paid via PayPal through a Homeschool-Life-generated invoice. *

Payments must be made through the Homeschool-Life invoicing system to be recorded. Instructors are expected to email the Lead Volunteers to promptly notify them if they receive any payments outside of that system.

Payments cannot be classified as “Friends and Family” transactions and PayPal fees will be deducted, so those deductions should be taken into account when setting your tuition and supplies fee.

PayPal currently takes 2.9% +30¢ per transaction, but that information is subject to change and should be confirmed with PayPal. You can use a PayPal Fee Calculator to determine how much you’ll receive.

You do not need an invoicing system, just a PayPal account. Invoicing is handled by our website host, Homeschool-Life.

Tuition adjustments

Should you ever have a reason to offer a student an adjustment to their tuition or a supply fee credit, you have two options:

  1. Request that a replacement invoice be generated to reflect that change if the student fees have not yet been paid
  2. Request that an adjustment be made to the student’s account if the student fees have already been paid
    • Refunds are not issued automatically; instructors must log in to their PayPal accounts and manually issue refunds!

Supplies

Instructors may charge a separate supplies fee in addition to tuition. Supplies fees will be invoiced with tuition when a student enrolls in the course. Instructors should include information about what supplies are included in the fee and how supplies will be distributed.

You should also let students know if there are any supplies that they need to purchase independently. Do they need to purchase a textbook, software package, or online subscription? Do they need to wear particular clothing (to allow for movement or to protect their clothes from materials used in class)? Should they bring along a laptop and power cable? A notebook and pencil? A water bottle? Will they need to purchase materials to complete a project?

Curriculum and Textbook

Our host website has three dedicated text fields when setting up a class description:

  1. Curriculum
  2. Textbook
  3. ISBN (of the textbook)

So you are using a curriculum or textbook, be sure to let us know so we can get them properly entered. You should also let students know if this is something they need to purchase independently or if it something you will be providing as part of their tuition or supplies fee.

Course Prerequisites

If your course presumes students have any prior knowledge or skills be sure to state them.

It's a good idea to let students know if a course will, for example, require extensive reading and/or writing, mathematical skills such as algebra or geometry, manual dexterity, physical stamina, etc.

Time requirements

If this course involves homework, it is useful for students to know beforehand how many hours per week they will typically need to spend on the course outside of class time.

Group work requirements

It is useful to let students know beforehand if this course will require them to coordinate schedules, arrange transportation, and/or communicate via email, the Class Forum, or other online formats with classmates outside of class time. When assigning group work outside of class, please keep in mind that our members live all over the 17-county metro area and are normally together only once a week. This does not mean that you can’t assign group work, you just need to be mindful of the complexity it introduces and let students know about it before they sign up.

One-Day Class Cancellations

Co-op-Wide Cancellations

Should weather conditions make travel to or from our co-op inadvisable or make conditions at Faith UMC unsafe, our co-op’s Lead Volunteers will strive to make a decision about whether or not to hold in-person classes by 8:00 AM. Please read our full inclement weather policy.

While Faith UMC strives to not interrupt our schedule, they may ask us to cancel classes to accommodate a funeral or other important community gathering. This is very rare, but it has happened. It is also conceivable that physical conditions at Faith UMC, such as a heating or plumbing failure, may make meeting unsafe. In those unlikely circumstances, Lead Volunteers will first strive to find an alternative meeting location before making the decision to cancel classes.

In the case of a co-op wide cancellation, instructors are not expected to issue partial refunds to cover the missed day but are encouraged to provide alternatives ways to keep students on track such as providing students with a plan for independent work to cover the material for the week or hosting an online class meeting if students are willing and available.

Scheduled Make-Up Day

The first Friday in May is our co-op’s regularly schedule Make-Up Day for spring semester cancellations due to inclement weather, and spring semester instructors should plan to be available to teach on that date.

Class Cancellations by the Instructor

If you, the instructor, need to cancel classes due to illness, family emergency, or other planned or unforeseeable circumstances, you are free to set your own policies for how you wish to handle this.

Some options to consider:

  1. Finding a substitute instructor, if possible. In the past, instructors have had colleagues, advanced students, former students (graduates), and an experienced parent or guardian step in to facilitate a class.
  2. Providing students with a plan for independent work to cover the material for the week. You’ll still need an adult volunteer to monitor the kids in the classroom.
  3. Holding a make-up day, in-person or online, on an alternate day, if you can find one that works for all your students.
  4. Issuing a partial refund for the missed day.

Instructors are responsible for both communicating class cancellations to students and for emailing the Lead Volunteers to let them know about the cancellation.

The easiest way to communicate with your class is to post an announcement at the top of your Class Homepage and then click the icon to email that announcement to all your students and their parents and guardians.

(To clarify: If the co-op cancels all classes, then the Lead Volunteers are the ones responsible for that communication.

Policies

Instructors set their own course plans. Instructors are expected to follow co-op policies but may set their own classroom guidelines, including policies for late registrations and expected and acceptable behavior during class.

Co-op Policies

  1. The Rules
  2. Behavior Policy
  3. Conflict Resolution Process
  4. Allergies, Allergens, and Sensitivities Policy
  5. Inclement Weather Policy
  6. Refund Policy

Instructors should also be familiar with Planet Homeschool’s:

Contact Information

PHS-related communication is done via email and the co-op forums, and instructors are expected to keep abreast of co-op related communications.

Instructors are expected to provide PHS members with an email address where they can be reached. It will also be provided to current and members if they have questions about your class that they would like to have answered before deciding whether or not to sign up. Instructors are expected to respond promptly to queries — whether from current or prospective students, their parents or guardians, or Lead Volunteers. “I never check that email address” is not an acceptable reason for failing to respond.

Instructors are also expected to provide Lead Volunteers with a phone number where they can be reached. Providing a phone number to the membership at large is optional but encouraged.

Instructors should be sure to specify to Lead Volunteers how they want their name to appear in class listings (for example, Deborah Jones, Debbie Jones, Deb Jones, Dr. Deborah Jones, etc.). Homeschool-Life’s instructor information tool currently offers only a First Name and Last Name field and lists instructors as Last Name, First Name, so if your name has three or more parts (for example, Neil deGrasse Tyson), we’ll also need to know how you want to be alphabetized (for example, as either deGrasse Tyson, Neil or Tyson, Neil deGrasse).

Instructors should also let PHS members know how they prefer to be addressed (for example, Jane, Ms. Jane, Ms. Smith, Dr. Smith, Teach, etc.)

Pronouns

We understand that not everyone wants to announce their pronouns, and you are in control of how and when you share this information. You can also change your pronouns at any time. Planet Homeschool serves many transgender, gender-fluid, and gender non-binary students, and we are committed to creating a safe and respectful space that makes them feel seen, included, and cherished. That includes making an effort to use the correct pronouns for each student. We encourage you to let your students know what pronouns you use for yourself and to ask your students what pronouns they use for themselves.

Co-Instructors

Our website supports co-instructors, so each instructor will have their own instructor listing with their own contact information, photo, and bio.

Class Promotion

Planet Homeschool volunteers will promote upcoming courses internally via our online forum and publicly via our Facebook Page. Information about upcoming courses is also shared with other local homeschooling groups.

Instructors are asked to assist Planet Homeschool with promoting their class by providing both a class description and bio plus photos of themselves and of class materials, projects, or concepts. Parent or legal guardian permission should be obtained before sharing photos of students online.

Images can be of:

  • materials used in the class
    books and magazines, DVDs and CDs, tools & equipment, supplies, etc.
  • class projects
    completed artwork, papers, props, costumes, displays, etc. from past classes or samples made by you — student names must be obscured unless written permission is obtained from both parent or legal guardian and student
  • action photos from past classes in progress
    with written permission from both parents/guardians and students
  • free images from Unsplash, Wikimedia Commons, Library Of Congress, etc.
    the license must be Public Domain (CCP or CC0), CC BY, CC BY-SA, or CC BY-ND
  • purchased images

Promotional images can be submitted to the Lead Volunteers via email.

Instructors are expected and encouraged to assist with spreading the word about their upcoming courses. One way instructors can do this is by liking, sharing, and commenting on Facebook Page posts promoting their courses.

About You

Every instructor has a website bio where they can tell students and their families about themselves. Every bio should include a photo of the instructor, which may be either a headshot or an action shot. Some things you might choose to include in your bio are:

  • your credentials, qualifications, experiences, and interests related to the topic you propose to teach
  • your teaching philosophy or style
  • a bit of personal information such as your family, pets, hobbies, and interests
  • your personal experience with homeschooling

Returning instructors should review their instructor bio and headshot annually see if they are in need of revision.

Open House Party

Planet Homeschool hosts an annual Open House Party which is typically held on the second to last Friday of April (which should also be the second to last week of spring semester classes). Prospective members are invited to visit the co-op including sitting in on classes in session, so instructors should be prepared to welcome and include prospective students on this date.

The Open House Party also features a 30-minute Lunchtime presentation and this is a great opportunity for instructors to showcase student work with a brief (3 to 5 minute) demonstration. Instructors can also create static displays of student work for the Fellowship Hall lobby. There will also be brief introductions of all instructors present with a brief (less than 1 minute) opportunity to say something about yourself and your upcoming courses.

Class Dashboard

Our website provides an online Class Home Page for each course that offers:

  1. Class Forum: A dedicated online discussion forum just for you, the students enrolled in the course, and their parents
  2. Email individual students and their parents.
  3. Email only the parents of the students enrolled in the course.
  4. Class Assignments: Post and email assignments; attach files of all sorts; link to external websites, videos, and more; students can then submit completed work as file attachments or as links (such as to a Google Doc or Google Drive) and ask questions about the assignment; instructors can answer questions and provide feedback on submitted work
  5. Class Announcements: An area at the top of your Class Homepage for important announcements. Announcements can also be sent via email to students enrolled in the course and their parents
  6. Class Resources: Attach a syllabus or link to an online textbook. These are persistent resources that are displayed at the top of your Class Homepage.
  7. Class Media: Post links to online meetings or to pre-recorded videos
  8. Class Attendance Tracking: Optional but useful
  9. more

File formats accepted for attachments include csv, doc, docx, dot, gif, heic, heif, htm, html, jpg, m4a, mp3, mp4, pdf, png, pps, ppt, pptx, pub, rtf, svg, txt, xls, xlsx, yyz, andd zip.

In addition to the Class Home Page, the website also offers member-only photo albums and an online co-op calendar. There is also a dedicated Forum for instructors.

Website account

All instructors are required to have a website account. (Instructors who are also parents or guardians of current PHS students may use their family website account.)

Planet Homeschool pays $8.50 to Homeschool-Life for each instructor account. We ask that instructors cover that expense.

Once your course is selected, new instructors will need to create a website account. The signup form is designed for members not instructors:

  • Complete all required fields
  • Delete the Children section
  • For your emergency contacts, please provide the full names and phone numbers for two persons other than yourself
  • Read and sign the Waiver and Release of Liability but not the Parent Agreement or Student Agreement

An invoice for the standard membership fee will be automatically created when you complete the form. That invoice will be canceled and may be safely ignored. You’ll receive an invoice for $8.50 shortly after your class is confirmed. (Instructors who are also parents of current PHS students can use their family website account for no additional fee.)

Co-Instructors and Shared Website Accounts

If you are teaching with a co-instructor(s), you may share a website account or create separate ones if you are willing to pay the $8.50 for each.

If you choose to share an account, it may take some fiddling to get your names to display nicely because Homeschool-Life assumes that each account is associated with two adults sharing the same last name. The best option is to use this format:
  First adult’s last name: Your business name
  First adult’s first name: Your full name (First1 Last1)
  Second adult’s last name: [blank]
  Second adult’s first name: Your co-instructors full name (First2 Last2)

This will get formatted as
  “Business Name, First Instructor & Second Instructor” and as
  “First Instructor & Second Instructor Business Name.”

If you just enter your actual first and last names in the fields, you’ll display as
  “Last1, First1 & First2” and as “First1 & First2 Last1”

If you have three co-instructors:
  First adult’s last name: Business
  First adult’s first name: First1 Last1, First2 Last2
  Second adult’s last name: [blank]
  Second adult’s first name: First3 Last3

COVID-19 and Online Synchronous Classes

We hope to safely resume holding in-person classes in 2021-2022 if the public health situation permits, but instructors should be fully prepared for an all-online format due to COVID-19, particularly for Fall 2021. No instructor will be required to teach in-person.

All online courses must be synchronous (aka real-time or live) classes that provide students with the opportunity to interact with each other and the instructor.

In order to successfully teach an online course, instructors must have:

  1. A reliable and fast Internet connection
  2. A computer capable of handling the software needed to run an online class
  3. The technical know-how to effectively run online classes
  4. The willingness and ability to regularly monitor email-based communications and respond to student queries in a timely manner

Members have indicated a preference for the Zoom platform, but you will need to invest in the Pro plan to teach weekly 75-minute classes, which currently costs $14.99/month or $149.90/year. Other platforms include Discord, Google Meet, GoTo Meeting, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoho Meeting, etc.

At-home physical space requirements for an online course

If classes move online, you’ll need to let students know about any additional needs at home to successfully participate in the class. For example, a crafting course may require substantial tabletop or counter space while a course involving physical movement may require sufficient floor space.

Fine Print

1. Planet Homeschool is a homeschool co-op, not a school.
(1a) Instructors are hired directly by the parents of the students who sign up for their courses, not by Planet Homeschool.

2. Instructors are paid directly by the parents of the students who sign up for their courses, not by Planet Homeschool
(2a) Instructors are paid via PayPal through a Homeschool-Life-generated invoice.
(2b) Instructors are responsible for informing Lead Volunteers promptly via email if payment is received outside of that system.
(2c) Instructors are responsible for promptly issuing full refunds for class cancellation requests made before a class’s "Minimum Student Date."
(2d) Instructors set their own policies for refunds after that date.
(2e) Instructors may set a class registration deadline. If they do not set a class registration deadline, the deadline will be assumed to be before the 2nd week of classes.
(2f) Instructors set their own policies for pro-rating tuition for late-registrations (after the first day of class)
(2g) Instructors set their own policies regarding any compensation for classes missed by the instructor (due to illness or other unavoidable circumstances) or due to weather-related cancellations of in-person co-op classes.

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

4. Instructors should be familiar with Planet Homeschool policies:
(4a) The Rules
(4b) Behavior Policy
(4c) Conflict Resolution Process
(4d) Allergies, Allergens, and Sensitivities Policy
(4e) Inclement Weather Policy (4f) Refund Policy

5. Instructors should also be familiar with Planet Homeschool’s
(5a) Parent Agreement
(5b) Student Agreement

6. While instructors are expected to abide by the above co-op policies, they may set additional guidelines for their classrooms, including policies on expected and acceptable behavior during class.

7. Instructors should treat all students, parents and guardians, and other instructors respectfully.
(7a) Class content must be secular, objective, and age-appropriate.
(7b) Instructors should arrive at class prepared to teach, begin class on-time, teach for the full class period, and end class on-time.
(7c) Instructors should respond promptly to communications from students, their parents or guardians, and Lead Volunteers
(7d) Instructors should communicate in a respectful manner, both in messages and in-class.
(7e) Instructors are expected to create a safe and welcoming space for all students.
(7f) Instructors should assume the best intentions in others. If something goes wrong, we ask that you share feedback in a constructive way.

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).

Timeline

Exact dates can be found on our co-op’s calendar.

  • End of January
    • While class proposals may be submitted at any time, they need to be received by the end of January to be considered for the upcoming academic year.
  • Early February through Late March
    • Run-off voting begins for classes offered the upcoming academic year.
  • Late March through Late April
    • Final voting round
    • Instructors are contacted to confirm or are recruited if needed
    • Class schedule for the following academic year is finalized and published
  • Late May through early September
    • Registration for Fall Semester
  • Mid-November through mid-December
    • Registration for Spring Semester

Exact dates can be found on our co-op’s calendar.

 


* Some instructors who have been teaching at PHS since before we had an online invoicing system still accept payments only via check. This requires additional volunteer hours to manage, as the checks are mailed to the co-op’s Finance Director who records payment manually and then passes the collected checks on to the instructor on the first day of class. For this reason, all new instructors are expected to accept payments via PayPal.

 

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