Information for Instructors at PHS

2023-2024 Course Proposal Form (Google Form)
Due Fri 27 Jan 2023
Course History 2022-2023 Course Details Form (Google Form)
Due Fri 17 Jun 2022

Course Proposals Received for 2022-2023 (Google Doc)


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.

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.

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 at Planet Homeschool.

Instructors may make use of student assistants.

Who can propose a course?

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

When should I propose a course?

Course proposals for the 2022-2023 academic year should be submitted by Friday 1 April 2022.

Course proposals will be compiled into a survey and voting by current members will commence on Friday 8 April 2022. Lead volunteers will meet to assemble the 2022-2023 course schedule on Thursday 29 April 2022.

A full Course Details form must be completed by the course instructor by Friday 17 June 2022 for any course proposal that makes it onto our co-op’s final course schedule, and the final 2022-2023 course schedule will be announced on Friday 8 July 2022 with registration starting on Friday 15 July 2022.

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.

Granting Exceptions to the Stated Age Range

Our class registration system will automatically restrict registration to the age range stated. While instructors may grant individual exceptions to Planet Homeschool members, they cannot allow students younger than 10 to register. When granting exceptions, 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.

Age restrictions can only be overridden by a website admin, so forward the request for an exception and your statement granting permission to our co-op’s Lead Volunteers at [email protected]

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.

Course content must be secular, objective, and age-appropriate.

Instructors set their own course plans.

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 complimented 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 options are first ranked by current co-op members. Then our co-op’s Lead Volunteer team works together to use the top choices to create a course schedule with a balance of age ranges and subjects while taking into account teacher availability and classroom space needs.

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

How to propose a course

Course proposals can be submitted using either our co-op’s Course Suggestion form or our co-op’s full Course Details 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.

A full Course Details form must be completed by Friday 17 June 2022 for any course proposal that makes it onto our final 2022-2023 schedule. This form is designed to guide you through gathering all of the 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.

Brainstorming Session

A brainstorming session for current PHS members is held in late January, and we 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 2022-2023 Instructor Fee is $10 per course. The maximum fee is $40 per semester.

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 overhead expenses 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.

Co-Instructors

This is a per-course fee, not a per-instructor fee, but there will be 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.

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.

Communications

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 [email protected], 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 [email protected], 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 or guardians.

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 [email protected].

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

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

While instructors are not expected to use the attendance tracking tool, they are expected to notice if students stop attending class and to reach out their families to find out what’s up and if anything can be adjusted to help the student reconnect and succeed. They should also let our co-op’s Lead Volunteers know so that they can offer to help the family successfully navigate our co-op.

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 and guardians, and other instructors respectfully, to work to create a safe and welcoming space for everyone, and to share feedback in a constructive way.

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 on expected and acceptable behavior during class.

Co-op Schedule

Fall semester is 12 weeks long and typically starts the second Friday in September and runs through the second Friday in December with no classes on the first 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 in May plus the second Friday in May as a scheduled 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 Fall Semester course

  • a 16-week Spring Semester course

  • a 28-week full-year course

  • 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 (repeating the same course each semester)

Full Year Courses

Students will register separately for fall and spring semesters.

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 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 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 for 2022-2023, we will need to know the actual dates and times of the additional days by Friday 17 June 2022.

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.

Daily Schedule

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

Classes 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.

  • Set-Up 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)

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

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 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. (On occasion, an instructor has requested a break between classes, and 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 first or third period or to end at the same time as second or fourth period.

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.

Minimum Student Number

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 course. The most common minimum number is 4 students.

Maximum Student Number

The most common maximum number is 15 students.

Most of our classrooms won’t comfortably seat more than 15 students plus an instructor, and our smallest classroom will comfortably seat only about 8 people. The Fellowship Hall is reserved for courses needing space for significant student movement, such as fencing, dance, and theater.

Minimum Student Date

If you do not specify a Minimum Student Date, your deadline will be assumed to be 2 weeks prior to the start of classes.

We create our course schedule based on the interests indicated by our current members, but sometimes, for a variety of reasons, that interest doesn’t translate into actual class registrations. To allow both students and instructors time to make alternative plans, courses that have not enrolled their Minimum Student Number by their Minimum Student Date will be canceled. Cancelation is automatic. If your course does not reach its minimum registration number before midnight on your Minimum Student Date, all enrolled students will be automatically unenrolled.

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 course will not meet your Minimum Student Number by your deadline:

  1. You may opt to lower your Minimum Student Number, but you are also then committing to teaching the course with that lower number.

  2. You may opt to extend your Minimum Student Date but you are then also extending both “the last day that those registered for the course may ask to cancel their registration and be guaranteed a full refundand your “Payment Due 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.

  4. You may accept that the course is quite likely going to be cancelled due to low enrollment (but may still be saved by last-minute enrollments).

  5. Please do not ask to cancel a course prematurely as co-op volunteers will have been spreading the word about your course to the local homeschool community, including your Minimum Student Date, and interested families may be depending on being able to time their decisions based on that information.

Requests for changes must be emailed to our co-op’s Lead Volunteers before your Minimum Student Date.

PHS Registration Historical Data

  • 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
  • registrations do sometimes happen the week after classes have begun

Payment Due Date

Tuition and supply fee payments will be due the day after your Minimum Student Date. This policy helps instructors avoid paying fees on tuition refunds.

Class Registration Deadline

Instructors also set the last day that students can register for each of their courses. If you do not specify a Class Registration Deadline, it will be set to the day prior to the second class session (meaning that late registering students may miss the first day of class but no others).

Students may continue to register for (non-canceled) courses after the course’s Minimum Student Date until the course reaches either its Maximum Student Number or its Class Registration Deadline.

Pro-Rata Tuition

Instructors set their own policies for adjustments to tuition for any late registrations made after the first day of class. Because one of our co-op’s Lead Volunteer will need to make any adjustments to automatically-created invoices manually, instructors are responsible for informing our co-op’s Lead Volunteers of any invoices needing adjustment.

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.)

Refund Policy

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

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. That is a disingenuous game of semantics: Refunds will cost you money.

To help instructors avoid the cost of refund fees, our co-op discourages families from paying tuition until a course’s Payment Due Date, but the registration system our co-op uses cannot prevent earlier payment.

  • Refunds are not automated. Instructors must log in to their PayPal accounts and manually issue refunds.

  • Instructors are responsible for promptly issuing full refunds for tuition and supply fees for class registrations canceled by midnight on a course’s Minimum Student Date.

  • Cancellation requests must be forwarded manually by a co-op volunteer, so it is conceivable that you will not be notified of an on-time cancellation request until the next day.

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 that do not drop the course below its Minimum Student Number after the course’s Minimum Student Date.

You can offer no refunds, partial refunds, or even full refunds. You can refund the supply fee but not the tuition or the tuition but not the supply fee. You can offer to refund only if a replacement is found. Etc.

Tuition and supplies fees

Tuition

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 ($8/hour) and $180 ($12/hour) 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 paid directly by the individual families whose students enroll in their courses 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 our co-op’s 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 3.49% +49¢ 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.

Your PayPal Account Name

To ensure that no one mistakes a tuition payment for fraud, it’s important that the name of your payment account in our co-op’s class registration system matches the name on your PayPal account.

For most people, their PayPal account’s name is the same as their own name, but sometimes it’s a business name, a spouse’s name, a legal name, a nickname, or a former name.

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.

Don’t forget to take into account PayPal fee deductions when setting your supplies fee.

Required Materials

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 course description:

  1. Curriculum

  2. Textbook

  3. ISBN (of the textbook) — this ensures students purchase the correct edition

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 is something you will be providing as part of their tuition or supplies fee.

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, our co-op’s 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 alternative 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 Makeup Day

Our co-op has a scheduled Makeup Day at the end of spring semester for spring semester cancellations due to inclement weather. Spring semester instructors should plan to be available to teach on that date.

We are not able to schedule a Makeup Day for fall semester classes.

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), or 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 want an adult volunteer to monitor the kids in the classroom.

  3. Holding a makeup 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 our co-op’s 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 Home Page and then click the icon to email that announcement to all your students plus their parents and guardians.

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

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.

Saint Anthony Village (SAV) is a small first-ring suburb surrounded by northeast Minneapolis, Roseville, New Brighton, and Columbia Heights. SAV is unique in that two-thirds of the city is located in Hennepin County while one-third is located in Ramsey County. Faith UMC is in Hennepin County. 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.

There is a large parking lot, a bike rack, and Metro Transit Route 25 stops at the corner of 33rd Ave and Belden Dr.

Physical Space

floor plan of Planet HomeschoolPlanet 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 a gas stovetop, gas convection oven, refrigerator, sink, and a Hobart dishwasher.

    • Health regulations must be followed for food handling and cleanup.

    • Additional equipment should be supplied by the instructor, including bowls, utensils, and cleaning supplies. (Instructors may also require students to supply some or all of their tools.)

    • Food may not be stored between class sessions)

  • One classroom does not have outside windows, although it does have a window into the Fellowship Hall foyer.

Feature Room 1
~23x20′
Room 2
~20x20′
Room 3
~23x20′
Room 4
~23x20′
Room 5
~14x16′
Fellowship Hall
~51x33′
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            
floor carpet linoleum carpet carpet linoleum linoleum linoleum

Proposals should 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.

Onsite Storage

Instructors should expect to transport the bulk of their materials and equipment to and from PHS weekly.

Onsite storage is limited. If equipment or supplies need to be stored onsite, email our co-op’s Lead Volunteers a detailed description of what needs to be stored and how much space will be needed so that they can determine if adequate space can be made available.

Entrance to the Building

Instructors, students, volunteers, and visitors 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. However, supplies must then be carried down a half-flight of stairs.

The east door may also be used as an accessible entrance for those with disabilities. There is an elevator to the classroom level, which may only be used by those who need that accommodation.

A co-op volunteer unlocks the doors at 9:00 AM and another volunteer makes sure the doors are locked again at 3:20 PM — or as soon as cleanup is done.

example room set up planRoom 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 shows 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 our co-op’s 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 the co-op day.

While an Onsite 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, vacuum carpets, sweep floors, return church furniture to the church’s preferred setup, and empty waste bins. 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.

Course 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 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.

Course Descriptions

Instructors should provide a complete description of their course(s). This often includes scope and sequence information, what type of resources will be used, any projects/homework that may be expected. Well-designed homeschool classes often include open-ended assignments that students can meet at their own interest and academic level.

See our co-op’s Course History for examples.

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 (and if this will be done during class or independently at home), mathematical skills such as algebra or geometry, manual dexterity, physical stamina, etc.

Homework Commitment

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 greater metropolitan 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.

Images

Instructors are asked to assist Planet Homeschool with promoting their course by providing images of course 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 course
    books and magazines, DVDs and CDs, tools & equipment, supplies, etc.

  • course projects
    completed artwork, papers, props, costumes, displays, etc. from past courses 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 courses 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 our co-op’s Lead Volunteers via email.

See our co-op’s Course History for examples.

Instructor Profiles

About You

The instructor profile includes an instructor bio where instructors can tell students and their families about themselves.

Some things you might choose to include in your profile are:

  • your credentials, qualifications, experiences, and interests related to the topics 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 profiles annually to see if they are in need of revision.

Instructor Headshot

We will use your headshot to promote your courses on our website and on social media.

Returning instructors should click through to their detailed instructor profile to:

  1. confirm we have a headshot for you
  2. and that you are still happy with it

Email new headshots to [email protected].

If you are teaching with a co-instructor, you will each have your own instructor profile and so may submit separate headshots.

You may provide an action shot instead. That would be an image that includes more than of you than your head and shoulders and shows you engaged in an activity.

Name formatting

Instructors should specify how they want their names to appear in course listings (for example, Deborah Jones, Debbie Jones, Deb Jones, Dr. Deborah Jones, etc.).

Unfortunately, Homeschool-Life’s instructor profile tool currently offers a First Name field and a Last Name field. If your name has more than these two parts (such as Neil deGrasse Tyson), then where you include your additional name(s) will impact how your name is alphabetized. For example:
   Last, First
   deGrasse Tyson, Neil
   Tyson, Neil deGrasse

Honorifics

Most instructors use no honorific unless they have a doctorate (in which case we encourage you to use Dr.). However, some other honorifics can be included in your instructor profile if you wish. Unfortunately, the instructor profile tool only supports a limited number of options, which are currently: Dr., Miss, Mr., Mrs., Ms., Mx., Rev., Br., and Sr.

Title

Most instructors at PHS are listed as the course’s “Instructor” but we are able to customize this field to instead list you as the course’s “Coach,” “Director,” “Facilitator,” “Guide,” “Mentor,” “Professor,” “Trainer,” “Tutor,” or for those of you co-teaching, “Lead Instructor” and “Assistant Instructor.”

While we appreciate creative course titles, your own title should be fairly standard, mundane, and informative.

Instructors should also let PHS members know how they prefer to be addressed (for example, Jane, Ms. Jane, Ms. Smith, Dr. Smith, Coach Smith, Coach, Teach, etc.). Providing this information can help reduce student anxiety and makes it easier for co-op volunteers to ensure they refer to you in the manner you most prefer.

Pronouns

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. If you misgender someone (that is, if you use the wrong pronoun or noun when referring to someone), offer a very short apology, correct yourself, and move on. For example, “If you stand there and she stands, excuse me, if he stands there, then we can ….” Similarly if you are corrected after misgendering someone, offer a short apology, correct yourself, and move on. For example: “Is she still in the hallway?” “They.” “I’m sorry. Are they still in the hallway?”

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, but we understand that not everyone wants to announce their pronouns. You are in control of how and when you share this information. You may also change your pronouns at any time.

Communicating with Families

Instructors are expected to provide students with an email address where they can be reliably reached. This email address will be included on member-only portions of our website (login required to view) and will also be provided to prospective members if they have questions about your course that they would like to have answered before deciding whether or not to sign up.

Providing a phone number for the membership at large is optional but encouraged.

Co-Instructors

Each instructor will have their own instructor profile with their own contact information, photo, and bio.

Open House Party

To minimize the risks related to COVID-19, Planet Homeschool will not be hosting a 2022-2023 Open House during Spring Semester 2022.

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.)

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

  • You will need to complete all required fields

  • You may delete the entire Children section

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 your instructor fee shortly after your course(es) is confirmed.

Co-Instructors and Shared Website Accounts

If you are teaching with a co-instructor(s), you may share a website account. If you wish to create separate website accounts, there is a single $10 annual fee for each additional account (that fee is not per course and not per semester).

If you choose to share your website 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 on various parts of the website as either
  “Business Name, First Instructor & Second Instructor” and as
  “First Instructor & Second Instructor Business Name.”

If you have three co-instructors sharing an account, use this format:
  First adult’s last name: Business Name
  First adult’s first name: First1 Last1, First2 Last2
  Second adult’s last name: [blank]
  Second adult’s first name: First3 Last3

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 or guardians.

  3. Email only the parents and guardians 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.

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).

COVID-19 and Online Synchronous courses

COVID-19 Policies

We hope to safely resume holding in-person classes in 2022-2023 if the public health situation permits, but instructors should be fully prepared for an all-online format due to COVID-19, particularly for Fall 2022.

Our co-op may decide that all or some courses must be offered online, but 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.

Online Technical Requirements for Online Courses

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 course.

  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 and an awareness that online courses often require additional electronic communications to be effective.

Video Conferencing Software

In a member survey, members 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 Amazon Chime, BlueJeans, Discord, Fuze, Google Meet, GoTo Meeting, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Webex, Zoho Meeting, etc.

Many current PHS instructors are now quite familiar with Zoom and willing to help new instructors get set up and to share tips to how to get the most out of the platform. Students who have a preference for Discord have also offered to assist instructors with setting up and learning to use that platform.

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 course. For example, a crafting course may require substantial tabletop or counter space while a course involving physical movement may require sufficient floor space.

Impact of COVID-19 on Enrollment

In order to sustain a full schedule of 25 courses per semester, our co-op needs around 60 member families, and historically our co-op has averaged between 60 to 65 members (with occasional lulls and surges). Unfortunately, COVID-19 has decreased our membership numbers by about 40% and this has resulted in a higher than usual number of course cancellations due to low enrollment. Instructors should be prepared for this unfortunate trend to continue if the COVID-19 health and safety situation does not improve. Instructors should also be aware that it may take a year or two for our co-op to rebuild membership numbers when we are able to safely resume in-person classes.

Online Classes on Days Other Than Fridays

Our co-op is currently offering both in-person and online classes, but with only 5 minutes between class periods, it is difficult for students to choose to take both. If we are to continue offering a mix of online and in-person classes, we are considering moving at least some of the online classes to a different day of the week. Because we only have access to our physical space on Fridays, this would make it impossible to transition those classes to in-person should the COVID-19 health and safety situation improve.

Timeline

Our co-op’s usual planning schedule has been modified to allow for more time to gauge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our co-op’s plans for 2022-2023. Dates remain subject to change.