Friday, July 2, 2010

TOG Co-op Down & Dirty

That may sound odd, but "Down and Dirty" was what we called our day-long Co-op planning meeting yesterday. ( I believe the term is used by Marcia Somerville, the author of the TOG curriculum - we didn't make that up )  Eleven of the thirteen moms in our TOG Co-op met from 9:30 am until almost 4:00 pm at my friend Eve's house to hammer out some guidelines, policies, and plans in preparation for our 4th year together this fall. 

One of our first tasks was to name our group. For 3 years we have just been the "TOG Co-op".  But the church where we meet wanted us to have a more descriptive name, I guess to differentiate us from any other Co-ops that might want to meet there.  So we threw out some possibilities - Time Travellers, Truth Seekers, Many Minds-One Heart, Motley Crew, Threads, Grace, World Explorers - but the winning name was....... LOLLAPALOOZA!   Yes, we are the Lollapalooza TOG Co-op,  ....  and that is just plain FUN.  The definition is actually "something excellent or outstanding of its kind"!  

Once named, we spent some time working on a Vision Statement that would sum up our goals and purposes as a group.   This is what we came up with:

The Lollapalooza TOG Co-op is dedicated to glorifying God as we support and enrich the educational experience of each family while utilizing our strengths and gifts. We encourage excellence through a variety of activities that enhance our studies associated with the Tapestry of Grace curriculum.

Glorify God.
Enrich Education.
Encourage Excellence.

Next, we talked about our Code of Conduct.  Again, we are not a new Co-op, but felt it was time to put these things into writing and create a Handbook for each family, so that policies and expectations were clearly stated and presented to every parent and child.  We decided that our Code of Conduct was centered around the word "RESPECT".    Respect for Christ, Respect for Self, Respect for Others, and Respect for the Facility.  Under that, we stated that each person was expected to honor Christ in their words, actions, attitudes, and appearance.

Colossians 3:12  
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,  
giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

Then we got specific, including rules, or at least expectations, about things like cell phones, attendance, dress, being prepared for class, cleaning up after lunch, etc.  etc. etc.

One of the new things we decided to implement this year is unit reports, which will be feedback given to each parent about how the children are doing in their classes - behavior, preparedness, participation, attitude.  Everyone felt that this would perhaps motivate the kids to put forth their best effort, knowing that they would be evaluated in some way by their teachers, and that teachers and moms would be talking together about those evaluations!  So we'll be coming up with a checklist of some kind for our Rhetoric class - attendance, Accountability Questions done, homework done, participation in discussion, quiz grades, etc. Our Co-op is supplemental to the work each family is doing at home, therefore we do not give "grades", but it will be valuable for all of us to have some gauge of what the kids are bringing to class. 

We discussed our academic goals and standards for the Co-op.  Basically, we are a history / literature Co-op, and individual classes may also include geography, worldview, philosophy, and/or fine arts.  What we do in Co-op is enrich and enhance the studies of each family, not teach the material. We are more than a glorified play group - we do meet for a social purpose, but also for an academic and spiritual purpose. And really, that makes all the difference. That is why we are willing to devote one day a week to our Co-op meeting, and push ourselves to keep up with the pace of the TOG weekly plan. There is an academic, social, and spiritual BENEFIT to meeting together each week. 

After we worked through the calendar and agreed on days off, half days, and teacher meetings, we talked about our Unit Celebrations for Year 4.  Unit Celebrations are special days at the end of each 9-week unit where we all do something fun together - sometimes to perform, sometimes to share the things we have learned, sometimes to include the dads.  Next year we decided to have a Unit 1 Hall of Fame, where all the kids will choose a person to dress up as and talk about; a WWII movie ( right before Christmas);  a 1950's sock hop / soda shoppe; and a family trip to Washington, DC!   

Lots to look forward to as we embark on our journey through the 20th Century!

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