Friday, June 4, 2010

Reviewing the Crew Part II: The Amazing People

Part I of my review of the TOS Homeschool Crew was mostly about the stuff.  I expected that part to be great.  But now I'm going to talk about the people.  Oh, wow... I don't know where to start.  I guess this could go chronologically too though.

Okay, so one of the first people I actually got to know was my First Mate and her mini-crew.  What happened starting in the second year is that the people asked to return for another voyage were also asked to 'mentor' a mini-crew.  That would be 4-5 new crew members.  My FM was Lori, and she is just amazing.  The First Mates weren't exactly given a job description, and they each took slightly different approaches.  Basically, though, they were to be someone us newbies could come to with questions, so the leaders weren't being inundated with a hundred of us asking the same questions over and over.

Lori got our little crew talking, so I now recognized a few people on the forum, and she mostly was just an encouragement.  I still grin when she posts a comment on my blog, but she's no longer just my "First Mate" as she is now a good friend.

Then there were my crewmates.  I didn't expect to really post on the forum.  I have a bazillion other places where I already know people and where I already get loads of support.  But... well, the enormous blessing of meeting my fellow crewmates was not at all something I expected.

Why did this matter so much?  I don't know.  One thing I know I loved is that there were women (and one man) there homeschooling kids older than mine... something I'm not finding quite as often in other online venues.  There were people homeschooling using a wide variety of materials and approaches, but rarely was anyone pushing that any particular thing was inherently superior to everything else.  Maybe that has to do with the fact that our job is to review products and talk about how they worked for us, or didn't work for us, and who would benefit from a product.  So maybe we were just more aware, as a whole, that my perfect program may be a total flop for you.  But it was amazing to post a question about, say, high school math, and get people on there giving reasonably objective evaluations of what they had tried and what they liked.

That doesn't capture it though.  And not everyone on the crew participated on the forums, either.  But the people who were there just seemed to be so open and honest about struggles, frustrations, praises, triumphs... It has been one of the most REAL groups of people I've been around.  And when I'm griping about some dumb little problem in my life, there is someone else on asking for prayer for her best friend who is dying of cancer, or for an abused child, or for a backed-up sewer system... you know, people who are dealing with real, serious issues.  But that doesn't take away from everyone's ability to respond to the mom who was up all night with a sick child who now is hoping to get through the day without being too much of a zombie, or anyone else with "minor" prayer requests.  

Very early in the crew year, one fellow mom saw a post I made about VideoText Algebra and how we weren't moving on because my oldest knew we couldn't afford the next module and he didn't want me to be stressing out about it.  She hooked me up with someone who was willing to send me that next module for the price of postage.  Another mom, from that same comment I had made, sent me her not currently being used Math U See Geometry... which has been wonderful, as it keeps Connor from racing through the algebra because he's desperate for something new, when he really does need to take it a little more slowly than he would prefer in order to let things sink in a bit.  I could go on... 

Anyway, the point is -- I think the biggest blessing of my time on the Review Crew this past year is that I have this group of homeschoolers where I am totally comfortable being me.  And my biggest prayer for this next year is that the same type of community will develop.

And last but not least, there are our fearless leaders.  Heidi has turned into a friend, and I actually got to meet Brenda last week.  Their friendship has been amazing as well.  I can't possibly do them justice on my blog, so I'm not going to try.

Next up, I'm going to talk about the actual JOB aspects of the Crew.  Stay tuned...


6intow said...

So true. It is a great privilege to be a part of this community with other amazing people like you!

Debra said...

Thanks Erin! You are one of the people I was thinking about, but I didn't dare to start listing names. I'd leave someone important out!!

Cristi said...

I'm even more excited about being on next year's Crew now!

Lori Watson said...


Aw, that was a sweet post and I completely agree! Well, not with the amazing me part but with all the rest. ;-) I never expected to develop friendships on the Crew either and that turned out to be such a huge blessing. When my time on the Crew ends (may that be never) I wonder which I shall miss more- the review products or the people!

Great wrap ups and review of your review year. Looking forward to FMing on the older crew with you! (FMing? Is that a word? It is now!). You will be amazing, I know!

PS. If you ever have FM questions, don't hesitate to ask. Just because we aren't on the same mini-crew anymore doesn't mean I'm not available. And I always have an answer, even if it's wrong. :-P

PPS. I'm going to go away now, cause I'm getting goofy.

Heather said...

Great posts, Debra! I had so much fun! I am looking forward to next year and so excited you will be doing older group also!! I am a bit worried about being an FM. If my teenagers are correct, I am too bossy...have to work on that:) I still honestly do not see how you get so much posting done. Loved all your wrap-ups.

Debra said...

Lori, dear, you deserved it. And I'm glad to hear I can still ask you questions!!! I'm looking forward to FMing with you too.

And with Heather :) As for the posting, Heather, well my secret today is... all my boys (dh included) are doing a massive Age of Empires computer game and have been all day, occupying every PC in the house. And Trina is sleeping. I holed up with my laptop (a Mac, so it can't run the game) and some coffee, and I finally wrote up what has been percolating for the last couple of weeks. I'm getting a few posts set to hit over the next few days too.