Tips for Becoming a Better Homeschool Teacher

I can always use more ideas on being a better teacher. I love to teach -- not just my own kids (although we have our moments) but also other people's children in co-op. But I don't have a teaching degree! I'm always hopeful I'll find more "teacher development" books or resources to help me better understand just what makes a great teacher.

In Teach, Dennis DiNoia provides some essential ideas on how to help our children become "independently responsible learners." His book puts into words just what homeschoolers (or any teachers!) can do. As their coaches, we must help them learn from their mistakes so they can confidently approach new learning moments throughout their lives.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of the book and compensation for my time in preparing this post and the video review. All opinions are my own.

 Teach is available at Amazon in physical copy, in Kindle format, and as an audiobook.

About Mr. D, author of Teach

The author of the book, known as Mr. D in the teaching and homeschooling world, has a well-known online class platform. Many of the chapters in Teach are focused around his experiences while teaching in both the classroom, tutoring, and online homeschooling course formats. His experiences helped me, a homeschooling mom, see how these concepts apply with children of a variety of ages.

It's certainly hard to know which teaching ideas and approaches will best help me. Each of my three kids has developed completely different learning styles so even going through the same curricula has needed adjustment. Mr. D's examples gave me a glimpse into why various teaching methods are more successful than others. And -- spoiler! My teaching strategies don't have to be more work, but it may work out to be even less work for me as teacher!

About the Book Teach by Dennis DiNoia

Teach is organized around the concept of an "independently responsible learner." He defines being independently responsible as "you are free, without outside control, to do things on your own and [you are] trusted to do it the way it was meant to be done." Right off the bat I love this definition. It echoes so much of what I have (tried) to do with my oldest child. He's become more and more "un-school-y" as he progresses through high school. He has figured out how to learn and he's teaching himself.

This "teach yourself" concept is what Mr. D addresses next in the chapter "The Student is the Teacher." I love watching my kids figure things out! As he writes, "When you teach someone how to do something, you are actually the one who becomes the master at it" (page 31). "Checking Your Own Work" is closely related. It's by seeing our mistakes that we learn from them. Failure is essential for progress.

I have always personally disliked taking tests. And with homeschooling, I felt "what's the point?" So Mr. D's comments on testing were super helpful in seeing the usefulness of doing so, as well as the hows. Testing can be a positive way to check our work and progress. It can be a key part of taking responsibility for how well our student has learned.

Putting Teach into Practice

Later chapters in Teach focus on help for me as a homeschool teacher. He discusses "Mastermind" groups to help each other improve. The concept is "Two minds are better than one." He suggests I find a a few other people in similar (but not necessarily exactly the same) situations. I'll make goals and we'll hold each other accountable for meeting our goals as we regularly check in and report. I love this idea for improving homeschooling teaching.

I most appreciate the chapter about how the parent is to be the "coach" for the student, rather than a "teacher" as I may think about it. I feel this is the case for my oldest child, who is just a year and a half away from adulthood (gulp). What Teach gave me was some ideas on how can I can do this for my second grader, and also for the kids in my homeschool co-op classes!

Watch my YouTube video for some more thoughts!

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