Thursday, January 24, 2013

Handy tips on not being a PAIN in the homeschool group

There are a couple of posts I have written in my mind, but it was never the right time to post them. This is one of them. I have served on my local homeschool board for three school seasons. I retired at the end of December 2012. We are asked to serve for one year, but our board had a genuine friendship among us and we all agreed to work together for another year. I served out another five months of the third year to finalize some remaining legal work. I feel like I came skidding to a halt after so much hard work. The Lord wrang me out. Now, that's not a bad thing. I was honored (and at first puzzled) why I would be asked to serve here. I promise you I don't have one thing to contribute. Seriously Lord, what were you thinking? But my purpose unfolded shortly after the first board meeting. All my years of working in the legal field suddenly had serious and personal meaning. I worked with attorneys and an accountant and we changed the legal structure of our homeschool group and applied to be a charity. No one noticed any change. That's good! It was a seamless and important change that took place in the background. I celebrated privately with the Lord when we got our paper in from the government saying we were now a public charity.

All of that was a piece of cake compared to what I am about to tell you. The hardest thing in serving in a homeschool group is dealing with the parents. The greatest thing in serving in a homeschool group is dealing with the parents. Homeschoolers are a different breed. They are independent, stubborn and a little outside the box. All GREAT things until you are in leadership and have to deal with them. Can I give you a few pointers so that you don't become "that person" in the homeschool group? WARNING - this is pretty rough. After three years, I have a lot of material.

-Pray for the leadership. Lordy, these people are tired. They have their own families and their own sets of problems. They are also trying to educate their children and make it to soccer practice on time.

-Don't talk badly about the leadership. If you don't agree with a decision they made, it is probably because you don't have all the facts smarty pants. They have sought the Lord on this decision. If you have a problem, you need to seek the Lord before you go forward with any complaints. And then if you still feel led to complain, you haven't heard from the Lord. *smirk*

-Send a letter of encouragement to your leadership. They will be over the moon. You cannot know how special it is to get such a letter without a smidge of complaint. (Zuzu's petals... I just had to say that.)

-If you can't make it to an event, PLEASE don't tell us all the reasons why it won't work with your schedule. We have 1,000 children and 400 families schedules to deal with. YOU are not the only person in the group.

-Volunteer for stuff. Volunteer early. Seriously, the leadership does the lion's share of the work. These people need help. Until you are in leadership yourself, you have no idea of the flurry of activity that goes on behind the scenes.

-If you volunteer to do something, for heavens sake, DO IT. Don't come up with excuses or fail to show up. We are counting on you. Giving a little of your time takes a great burden off of the leadership who do 99.99% of the work.

-Be part of the solution. If there is a problem, don't send an e-mail to the group or leadership complaining. Send a private letter to the leadership offering a solution that YOU are willing to be a part of. They may or may not take you up on it. If you aren't willing to help, keep your flapping mouth closed. The leadership works in the background to solve problems. Chances are it has already been spotted and solved before you even typed out your angry e-mail. Now they have to deal with responding to you. Great.

-Don't paint yourself as the savior of the homeschool community. You, dear friend, do not know everything. Not everyone does homeschooling the same way. Your solutions and curriculum choices may work for you, but may be a disaster for others. SO WHAT if you have had 28 years of homeschool experience. You too can learn from others.

-If someone responds to an e-mail you post seeking advice or help, THANK THEM. They took time out of their very busy day to attend to you. Take a few seconds to thank them. Now, that didn't hurt did it? (that is a pet peeve of mine because I fail on this one too).

-Do not forward a note to the group before you verify that it is truthful. Seriously folks, it takes 2.3 seconds to double check that e-mail that warns everyone that the boogie man will attack you if you go to Kroger parking lot and flash your lights. I do not care that it was sent to you by your pastor or your neighbor who got it from the police chief. These people are human. Check it before you hit send. Eroded credibility (of you and the group) is hard to get back. Huge pet peeve of mine. My homeschool group friends are giggling.

-Do not post 54 notes regarding your concern about immunizations or some other "interesting" thing. Send out one (uno). If someone is interested, they will contact you and you can have a private conversation about it. Just because you are concerned about it doesn't mean everyone else is (or will ever be). Sending out 54 notes makes people grit their teeth and hit delete. Don't be a pest.

-Do not avoid the leadership in public. I was warned by a previous board member that it would happen. When it did, I was flabbergasted. Dudes. We are slobbing through homeschool just like you. We probably just yelled at our kids in the car. We are not going to the board and reporting about that bottle of wine in your grocery cart. We don't care. Give us a hug. Come say "hi" when you see us in a restaurant.

OK - that is the end of my rant. Follow these guidelines, and you will become the favorite in the homeschool group. You might even be nominated to serve in leadership. Ha!

1 comment:

Frazzled Mom said...

P.S. - by "leadership" in this piece, I am also talking about our amazing Small Group Leaders. They are my heroes ya'll! They come in contact with more parents than the board does. Cut them some slack OK?


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