HOW ZLO IMPLEMENTS ITS VISION
At ZLO we understand that it is the parent who must, with God’s guidance, lead and direct a child’s education. Our role is to offer options that can augment the child’s home-based education. Most ZLO students are homeschoolers, having filed the paperwork required of home-schooled students at their local public school. Most have parents who are actively teaching their children in several subject areas while using ZLO to provide coursework for areas in which they feel less competent. Some choose ZLO instruction for their older children, enabling them to focus on the younger children in the family.
ZLO students look very much like students everywhere. Some are gifted and may or may not have been allowed to perform at their level of ability; some are remedial and struggling to perform at grade level. Some have had disastrous experiences with traditional education, public or private. Some are using ZLO as a transition from homeschool to traditional schooling. Some of our students are so committed to the ZLO option that they are earning their own tuition.
Our program is built on the conviction that the purpose of education is to prepare a student for whatever God may want him or her to do. ZLO Director Molly Crocker explains, “Education is the process of becoming a fruitful member of God’s kingdom and family, not the beginning of acquisition and taxpaying.”
All ZLO instructors are committed to biblically-based teaching. Free to use the best curriculum they can find, whether or not it is from a Christian publisher, our teachers continually integrate scriptural truth in their use of curriculum. At ZLO it is acceptable to teach with the textbook in one hand and the Bible in the other. We endeavor to show to our students our own excitement in knowing God’s Word, and in seeking truth, knowledge, and wisdom.
TIPS FOR NEW INSTRUCTORS
It is our observation that it takes about two years to ‘de-institutionalize’ instructors who have been teaching in a standard classroom setting, where curriculum is handed to them or chosen by a board. When a teacher has made the transition, we see them beginning to think more in terms of the individual child, breaking many of the rules of their educational training to get a child to learn. This is no longer large-group instruction. What do your students need to really learn the topic? A trip to our nation’s capital, or the art museums of Europe is NOT impossible! Whatever it takes, figure out a way to do it.
You will need to be entrepreneurial; it is your responsibility to market your own courses. This can be a challenge for an educator who has been “institutionalized” for much of his/her career. Even though you know students need your course content for a well-rounded education, they may not know it. Or they may not care. Because we are not a “school” we cannot prescribe to our students what they must take; we can only suggest and recommend. Sometimes our task is to make them WANT what we know they NEED. You want to convince students (and their parents) that they not only should learn the content of your course, but that it will be a fun and exciting learning process. Your course may be competing with a similar course taught by another instructor. In many cases, parents have limited tuition budgets and they must help their student choose the course(s) that will give them the best value for the money they plan to spend. Pay close attention to your course descriptions, and feel free to do your own advertising.
You are the instructor. ZLO offers you freedom to teach the best way you know how. Your curriculum does not necessarily have to be from a Christian source. You may draw from many sources or write your own curriculum. We encourage you to take advantage of community resources, field trip, etc. Include the cost of these things into the materials fees, or inform parents early of your intent to attend an event that involves additional cost.
This is perhaps the most difficult part about teaching with ZLO. We use classrooms wherever we can find them. Teachers must be flexible, resourceful, and creative, transporting the bulk of their teaching materials in and out every day. There is limited storage space at our current site. ZLO’s white boards, projectors, and video equipment stay in the facility.
Parents of students in your class are ALWAYS welcome to take the class, or at least observe whenever they want, provided there is space in the room. Your administrator may also drop by at any time unannounced.
Protect yourself from accusations of misconduct. NEVER work alone with a student in a room where you cannot be observed from the hallway or by someone else. If you must discipline a student, be sure to inform the parent. Whenever possible, have another adult present. If a parent asks you to transport a student, make some record of the agreement. This can include the phone log that a call was placed to either the parent, your administrator, or another instructor, but a written record to your administrator, such as a note or email is especially helpful, even after the event.
A general rule of thumb is that a semester credit involves about 75 hours for the student. Classroom time provides 45 hours. Plan for your students to spend at least another 30 hours outside of class doing homework or projects. Some classes require 5 – 8 hours of homework per week. Because our classroom hours are less than most formal school settings, the student accepts the responsibility of investing significant learning time at home. However, teachers who pile on excessive amounts of homework may risk losing their market. For some students, this is their first classroom experience and the first time they are accountable to an instructor outside their family. You may find that your role as instructor includes helping them learn basic protocols such as (1) putting their name and the date on the assignments they turn in, (2) neatness, (3) respecting due dates and deadlines and, (3) at high school level, writing in ink rather than pencil, or using only pencil for math classes.
Evaluations/grade reports are provided for every student at the end of every term for classes for which those are appropriate. A sample evaluation sheet is available on request and may help you decide what kind of data you need to gather throughout the term. You are responsible for making and distributing grade reports at the end of each semester. It is recommended that you also keep a copy of each student’s evaluation in your files. ZLO does NOT maintain records for transcripts. Remind students to keep their evaluations, as you may not be available in the distant future to write it again.
Most teachers provide mid-term reports to each student/parent. It can be less formal than the end of term report and is intended to give the student/parent an indicator of how the student is doing, any missing assignments, or problems that need attention.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE STUDENT
Our students represent the whole spectrum, remedial to gifted. Among them we find variations in learning style, motivation, and readiness. ZLO’s small classes, parent support, staff support, and prayer all serve to facilitate the teacher’s success in meeting each student’s needs and and maximizing each one’s potential. Finally, remember that our focus is to prepare students for God’s work throughout their lives. This demands excellence, persistence, honesty, and just plain hard work on the part of the student, the instructor, and the parent. Our instructors agree that is an extremely rewarding investment of their time.
FREEDOM TO WORK ELSEWHERE
Most ZLO instructors have another job or tutor privately. If you are offered another position that you can do concurrently with your ZLO classes, feel free to take it. If it is a school setting, please know that we value the connections we have with other educational institutions that are in the area. You may become that connection.
HOW TO APPLY
Potential ZLO Instructors should contact ZLO administrator Molly Crocker at 360-303-3464 for additional information about ZLO and how to apply to become a ZLO instructor. The process begins with a phone interview about what the instructor would like to teach. We also share what we’ve learned about working with the homeschooling community, which can influence how the instructor chooses to design and present his/her classes. Here’s the process:
You will submit:
- Cover letter
- Resume, focusing on the experience in the field in which you wish to instruct as well as your experience teaching and/or working with youth.
- A paragraph about your Christian faith. What do you believe?
- A paragraph about how you are growing in your faith.
- Tell us how your Christian faith informs your teaching. What do you do differently with your subject matter because you are a Christian?
- Three references that we can call. At least one should be personal. At least one should be professional, someone who has seen you teach. The third may be either.
- Any other information you deem pertinent.
- Call those references.
- Perform our own background check or hire someone to do that.
- Perform a records check with the Washington State Patrol.
- You will be invited to teach a 20-minute lesson to our board of directors and other instructors.
The board will meet concerning your appointment. We will notify you as soon as possible.
Additional information is available by contacting ZLO’s administrator.