Registration is open for next year’s classes, and we know many of you are worrying about instructor choice. What do you do if your child’s favorite instructor isn’t teaching the classes he needs to take next year? Where do you go if all the seats are full in your preferred instructor’s section? What happens if you want one instructor to teach all the classes your child is taking, and that just isn’t possible?
Have no fear! We can tell you exactly what to do: sign your student up for classes with different instructors!
We get it — letting go is hard!
If you are a seasoned homeschooler, it can be really hard to turn over control of your child’s education to an outsider. Younger students benefit from having a single teacher (you) across all subjects. But as they get older, a variety of high-quality instructors can expose them to a myriad of teaching methodologies and structures. Even so, it can be just as hard to take the jump from one instructor helping you to many instructors teaching your student. We encourage you to take a chance and to let go–so much good can come from having different people teaching your child.
Outsourcing is a good thing.
One great reason for the general outsourcing of teaching is that your student will learn how to meet high expectations and hard deadlines. Have you ever found yourself in the following situation? You plan to give your student a test, and he just doesn’t want to take it. He says, “Mom, I know we are going to dinner tonight, and I know you won’t have time to grade my work until next week, so why don’t we push the test off until tomorrow, or next week, or better yet, never!” All kidding aside, unless you are going to homeschool your child yourself through graduation, and your student isn’t going to college, and your child is immediately going to start his own business where he is his own boss, he’s eventually going to have to be accountable to someone who isn’t you. Preparation for that time is key.
When your student takes a class with an outside teacher, he has to meet that teacher’s deadlines. He has to turn his homework in on time, and he has to take his tests when they are scheduled. He has to make sure his work is clear, and that it reflects his learning, in order to meet the instructor’s expectations. Your child becomes a better student because he has to answer to someone else.
What happens when you have to pick a new instructor?
Let’s say you are outsourcing already, and you’ve found a teacher you really like. This instructor has taught writing to your student for levels one, two, and three, and now you have to pick someone new for level four. This can be scary! We know that your kid won’t love every teacher out there, and we get that you might be nervous about trying someone new out in a subject area where your student is already a reluctant learner. But so many good things can happen when your student is taught by a variety of people.
We’ve had many situations at the Academy where a parent doesn’t want to sign their student up for a class because the teacher isn’t the same one they’ve had before. But once class gets rolling, something amazing happens–it is all okay. The student misses some things about the old teacher, but likes some things about the new teacher. The learning keeps going. And the most wonderful thing that happens is that the student gains so much confidence in the subject because she knows that no matter who is teaching the subject, she can learn it. The focus moves away from personality, comfort, or familiarity, and onto the task at hand, and our little scholar-in-the-making is flourishing.
Cool things happen when different people teach your student.
It is also very exciting for students when their various instructors are teaching similar topics in different classes. For instance, we currently have students who, in their expository writing class, are learning about the art of crafting well-formed and clear essays that explain how sequences can occur in the natural world. They are practicing this skill by writing brief essays on the “death of a star.” At the same time, students who are also taking Astronomy at the Academy with a different instructor are learning the scientific details of the process. The student’s learning takes on new depths because of the varied approaches to the topic, and a memorable experience is created.
How do you choose?
So how do you pick someone new when you have to? First, you can email your current teacher and ask who they think will be a good fit for your student. Take time to read the biographies of the potential new instructors, and watch their teaching samples. If you have specific questions to ask the new instructor, email the administration and ask if they can get some answers from the teacher before signing your student up for class.
If you don’t have a teacher to ask for a referral, email the administration. Let them know about your student’s particular learning needs and ask which teacher would be a good fit. They should be open and honest about who might work well for your particular situation. We believe that a strong school administration will let you switch teachers at no penalty once the school year is in session if your student needs to try something new.
Trying new instructors is a good thing!
Trusting someone else to be a part of your child’s learning experience is a risk. We know that! We really do encourage you to find more than one teacher who you (and your child) love. Having multiple teachers helps students to gain new insight into a topic and experience varied perspectives. We firmly believe that having instructors outside of the home can be an asset to a well-rounded education, and can help to best prepare our young people for their occupational and/or university futures. We also believe that experiencing a range of teaching styles, methods, and personalities can enrich your student’s engagement with and retention of a subject’s material.
Trust us — we know that no one teacher is going to be perfect at teaching all the things to all the people. That’s why we are here — to make sure that your student is getting a top-notch, varied, and expansive education that prepares him well for the next steps. So go ahead, step out of your comfort zone, and take a risk with a teacher who you’ve never had before. You might just find the next teacher you can’t bear the thought of replacing next year!