I’m on the recliner in my family room, crouched over my laptop, taking advantage of those precious moments while the rest of the family is still asleep. Scrolling through a 14-year-old student’s essay I just read and corrected, I make notes. What kinds of feedback would help her most at this point in her academic development?
I am a freelance writer and editor. I’m also a “freelance” teacher. I’ve been a middle and high school writing coach, working primarily with homeschooled students, for ten years.
If you’re an educator ñ and you have a passion — your skills are needed in multiple venues, including the homeschooling community. You can earn money teaching homeschoolers, either in person or online, part time.
Consider exploring local homeschooling co-ops. Home educators form a co-op so their children can learn in small groups and each parent (or another professional) can teach a subject about which she’s particularly knowledgeable. Some co-ops also hire outside teachers, pooling their resources to pay tuition.
For example, Prism Learning Community in Waynesboro, Virginia has hired outside instructors to teach math, science, art, and photography. They seek educators who genuinely love the subjects they teach. They hope these teachers will infect students with their passion. They also appreciate an unusual twist on a traditional subject. For example, they paid a teacher for math classes titled “Designing Board Games” and “Geometric Patterns in Islamic Art.”
While some groups, like Prism, enjoy an “outside the box” approach, other co-ops lean toward traditional academic instruction, following curricula similar to those used in schools. While there are no “rules,” groups of families who homeschool primarily for religious reasons often embrace traditional academics. Secular groups, in which parents are likely to have opted out of the school system because they preferred a different approach to learning, are often looking for something else.
As homeschooling increases in popularity, these groups are proliferating. To locate co-ops in your area, contact a local support group. You can use a directory like this one or ask your local reference librarian.
When you contact a co-op, ask whether they hire outside teachers, or would consider it. If they’re having difficulty filling teaching slots with available parents, they may be open to suggestions. This is particularly true if you have a specialized area of expertise, such as experience teaching writing, science labs or fluency in a foreign language.
Get a sense of the group’s philosophy and style. Is it religious or secular? Does it focus on solid traditional curricula, or is it seeking something innovative? Ask whether the co-op has published its philosophy and classes it’s offered online or if someone is willing to talk to you about the group.
Be prepared to suggest specific classes you’re willing and qualified to teach, and offer an outline of what you’ll cover. Explain how you’ll make the class fun and engaging for students. Hands-on activities, such as crafts, experiments, or construction projects, are likely to pique their interest. Even co-ops with a traditional academic style are likely to gravitate toward creative approaches that are enticing to students.
While many homeschoolers take classes within the community, online courses are also available. Some organizations offering these classes hire teachers to work remotely, from home, via the internet. As with co-ops, peruse their websites to get a sense of their philosophy, purpose, and educational style.
These companies hire teachers to work online:
— What they offer: math courses.
— What they’re looking for: instructors, teaching assistants, and graders. Instructors need to be available once or twice a week, 7:00 – 9:00 pm Eastern Time, for classes and have 1-3 additional hours a week to prepare, participate in message board discussions, and review graders’ comments on students’ work.
“Our most pressing need is for more people who have strong math or programming skills, are passionate about math, and want to work with some of the most outstanding math students in the world.”
— How to apply: Check published job listings or write to them and “sell” yourself. They might be able to create a role for you. Send a cover letter and resume to jobs(at)artofproblemsolving(dot)com. Include a sample (or links to samples) of your work, such as a mathematical writing sample or material you’ve written for a lesson.
— What they offer: one-on-one writing instruction to 6th – 12th graders. Topics include composition, narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive writing, creative writing, short stories, literary analysis, and SAT prep. Writing coaches provide feedback and direction on student papers.
— What they’re looking for: writing coaches, “talented people with experience as teachers, writers and/or editors … they must be positive, encouraging people who love kids and love to share their expertise with words.”
— How to apply: use their online application.
3. Brave Writer
— What they offer: a variety of online writing courses for elementary, middle, and high school students. Topics include composition, writing essays, nature journaling, fan fiction, writing for fun, creating Greek myths and “just so” stories, book clubs, and movie discussion clubs.
— What they’re looking for: writing teachers. They only hire when they issue a “Call for Teachers.” Applicants should:
- have three years of experience as a homeschooling parent or a homeschooled student.
- have published books, articles, or newsletters or maintain an active blog.
- have established a warm online presence through an virtual community, Facebook, or Twitter.
- be an excellent writer.
- possess creativity.
- be familiar with academic writing and literature.
— How to apply: submit a single-page resume, in the body of an email, to Paula Horton, Human Resources Administrator at phorton(at)bravewriter(dot)com. Title the email “Brave Writer Teacher Application.” Include evidence of the above qualifications, along with your name, address, educational background, teaching experience, and a writing sample reflecting your voice as a writer.
4. Time 4 Writing (Certified teachers only)
— What they offer: elementary, middle and high school writing courses, including grammar, writing mechanics, essays and research papers, and SAT prep. Like Write at Home and Brave Writer, teachers offer one-on-one instruction.
— What they’re looking for: writing teachers “who are passionate about working with students and are skilled at both teaching writing and teaching online. We have teachers who previously worked for the Stanford Online Program for the Gifted and other nationally renowned programs. We insist that the teachers have a certification and experience teaching online.”
— How to apply: Send an email with your resume to jobs(at)time4writing(dot)com
5. International Virtual Learning Academy (Certified teachers only)
— What they offer: various K-12 curricula, adult high school, and SAT and GED prep.
— What they’re looking for: licensed teachers.
— How to apply: submit an online application with a resume, three references, and a copy of your current teaching license.
— What they offer: a traditional academic curriculum, which includes Christian religious education, for preschool through Grade 12. They also provide AP courses and GED prep. Teachers who work from home have to meet certain accountability measures, including remote time tracking software.
— What they’re looking for: They seek teachers who are “detail oriented and tech savvy and, most importantly, show a genuine desire to love, care for, and help kids.”
— How to apply: Send a resume to admin(at)enlightiumacademy(dot)com.
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Stephanie Marshall Ward is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger living in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has worked as a journalist, substance abuse prevention specialist, and adolescent therapist. She’s also a soccer mom and homeschooler living with her husband, three kids, and two rescued mutts. You can read more about her here.