Every day we coax, cajole, and con our kids into learning. After homeschooling for a few more years, we next try to switch out curriculum because we can’t switch out kids (okay, okay). One day it clicks and we turn the table to focus on our teaching style. But deep down we never really want to admit that we may be a boring homeschool teacher. It hurts, it’s personal, and it’s a blow to our ego.
It’s complicated too because somehow we seem to tie in our quality of mothering with our teaching.
What I learned from my miserable failure was that if I was going to continue homeschooling, I had to change how I was teaching.
I had to move from thinking like the masses that strict desk work with kids churning out worksheets which I could put a little red mark on was working.
The truth of it was that it wasn’t working and my teaching wasn’t creative, inspiring, or motivating. And my kids told me so. Ouch!
Quitting was one option. I almost did.
Out of my stress came strength because I wanted something different. What I was doing wasn’t working and nobody was happy.
6 SIMPLE STEPS TO A SUPERIOR HOMESCHOOL TEACHER
Look at these 6 simple steps I did to make my teaching not only come alive, but to teach with passion.
Step 1. It starts with wanting something different.
It’s scary to move away from what you think is a successful way of teaching. But the first step is wanting something different than what you have.
It’s humbling realizing that how you’re teaching is not working for your family. If everybody is miserable, you realize that you have nothing to lose when you try something different.
Step 2. Then, find what is working for your kids, not you.
The classical approach worked for me, but I was overboard with my intense language arts focus.
It was arrogant of me to think that other homeschool approaches meant that other homeschooled kids were less intelligent. I mean I never said, I just felt it.
It’s a wake up call when your ideal homeschool approach doesn’t work for your kids. I had to identify what worked for my sons so that I could relearn how to teach in a way they understood.
Look at these key points that I could put my finger on at the time:
- Two of my sons learned well with hands-on activities. I had one son that didn’t mind the textbook approach.
- All three of my sons excelled and retained information better when it wasn’t piecemeal.
- A mastery approach worked well for my sons.
- Information was better retained when the reading, writing, and activities had a common theme.
From there I realized that a unit study approach is a mastery based approach.
Step 3. Educate yourself about the new approach. Sifting through what will and what won’t work.
Then, don’t do like I did. Swing to the other side or to another approach and try to totally implement everything about that approach.
Take what is working and add tips for what is not working. For example, I knew with our language arts focused teaching that our tips about how to outline were solid.
However, our writing topics were boring because they were not taken from unit study topics that my sons chose.
Using our books on how to outline and do paragraphs, we added in our unit study topics on the American Civil War and the Amazon Rainforest.
FROM EXHAUSTING TO ENERGIZING
Now, our learning had a small spark to ignite.
Step 4. Now, push yourself. Yes, the hardest part.
Determined that I had the wherewithal to try something different, that I could identify what was and wasn’t working, and that I didn’t totally didn’t throw out everything, I focused next on my actual teaching.
This was the hardest part of the whole process because by nature I didn’t view myself as a very creative person.
I remember thinking that when it was time to prepare unit studies, my ideas were dry, uninspiring, and hard to do. They were.
Being creative for some people happens naturally. For me, it takes work and time.
Creativity is like any other teacher skill.
It needs to be nurtured, cultivated, and trained. Look at my article The Creative Process: 5 Ways to Cultivate Inspiration & Ideas as a Homeschool Teacher.
Instead of lingering on in our classical approach, key to my inspiration for another approach was to walk away right then from what wasn’t working.
Going cold turkey was the only way that worked for me. Instead of gradually cutting down on our classical approach, my motivation was high because I stopped the classical approach and implemented the unit study approach.
Why linger in a place where we were all miserable?
Step 5. Education is key – for the teacher. Is that the same thing as cultivating a growth mindset?
The next step was investing in books or reading material to help improve my teaching. Sure, my kids need study resources, but I do too.
Step 6. Practice what you teach.
The last step that propelled me forward was putting into practice what I was teaching.
Creating lapbooks was opposite of what I felt comfortable with as a teacher. Forming a co-op seemed time consuming at the time, but again I needed a place to hone my skill and a place for my sons to retain what they were learning.
Designing my website here where I could share the skills that I did have like organizing materials, creating printables, and making unit studies spring from my now creative juices. It gives me a place to both share and retain my ideas.
You certainly don’t have to blog or do a website, but what I am saying is that you want a place to organize and keep your now overflowing ideas. It’s true that creativity breeds innovation and then it’s hard to contain all of your creations.
Self-analyzing is not easy by any stretch, but worth it. There is nothing I miss about my old way of teaching.
Each child is unique and we accept those differences. As teachers, we are just as unique but certainly need to be challenged to be creative out of the box thinkers.
Do you need help starting now?
You’ll love these other articles.
- The Problem Choosing Between Homeschool Mom and HomeschNool Teacher
- 8 Colossal Pitfalls of Homeschooling in the WHAT IF World
- What You Must Know to Teach High School Unit Studies
Hugs and love ya,