“Tell me, and I forget; teach me, and I may remember; involve me, and I learn.”
— Benjamin Franklin
As a Math and English major with a masters in Teaching, a former high school math teacher, and, currently, a homeschooling mother, I am passionate about creating high quality learning environments that are accessible to all students.
Advocating for Better Schools
I am an advocate for better schools. I believe that the focus of any type of school should be the student — not grades, tests, curriculum, or perceived reputation. The driving force behind all school reform should be the care for students as individual people with unique strengths and a desire to nurture their innate love for learning. Unfortunately, politics and money play too big a role in schools today and, as a result, hundreds of thousands of students lose out on opportunities to grow as confident, capable, creative learners.
I believe that everything we teach our children, and the way in which we provide learning opportunities, should be relevant, engaging, and authentic and should naturally create a lifelong love for learning. I don’t see this happening in test-driven, worksheet-saturated classrooms. I see this happening in the “real world” — and I know that this type of real-world learning can have a place in classrooms with the right framework and culture established. Let’s work together to provide this type of education for our next generation:
(not Repetitive for a one-size-fits-all solution)
Students should learn about subjects they can personally relate to or that they genuinely find interesting.
We can expand their horizons by presenting a wide array of materials and topics, but we should respect students and present information and learning opportunities in ways that relate to their lives and/or their interests.
(not Excruciatingly boring and repetitive)
When students are actively engaged in the learning process, not passively observing, they will understand and remember what they learned.
Interactive, collaborative, discovery-based learning gives students the best chance to build a framework of understanding so that they truly own the knowledge they gain.
Probably most everybody is tired of “problem solving” questions that relate to hypothetical trains traveling irrelevant places at unrealistic speeds. Learning is fundamentally a genuine part of human life — we don’t have to go out of our way to sensationalize it or make it artificially interesting. Why not study and learn from situations that are as close to real life as possible?
Humans are born with the ability and desire to learn. Let’s help cultivate that so that they continue to be curious and question things until they find answers that are meaningful — not until they “succeed” according to an objective, arbitrary standard. When people are internally motivated, they will find ways to learn, do, create, and grow.
Trusting Teachers to Teach and Students to Learn
I believe teachers should be trusted to teach effectively and should be proactively provided the opportunity to focus on building positive relationships in their classroom, rather than being handcuffed to test scores and evaluations and overwhelmed with paperwork and classroom management issues.
I believe students should be granted autonomy to learn on their own terms and develop their own strengths.
I want to add my voice to the grassroots movement that is fighting for the rights of children everywhere to learn in the best possible environment.
Math is a hot topic — one that most people insist is the gatekeeper to educational and financial success — and one that most people fear and/or hate. I would hazard a guess that one of the single most destructive elements in family lives today is Math Homework.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Math can be taught in an engaging, understandable, and even enjoyable way. (But when it’s taught with a heavy emphasis on preparing students for high stakes testing, most of this is inevitably stripped away. You’ll read more about my thoughts on that if you follow along with my blog.)
I believe students should be given the opportunity to work through concepts to the point of mastery (not to the point of complete and utter boredom because they’re swallowing a one-size-fits-all prescription) and see math not as some painful adolescent ritual but as the language of the universe — the description of all the patterns and phenomena we see at play in nature and in art and architecture and engineering … and computer coding and aviation and seafaring and gambling … to name only a very few aspects of a universe written in the beautifully patterned and predictable* language of math.
(*until we get into chaos theory — but even that’s an area of math … yes?)
I want to help …
I wish I could personally help everyone who has ever suffered from any form of math anxiety. I have loved the opportunities I had to interact with students as both a teacher and a tutor and I am so grateful that I now have the chance to homeschool my own children and raise them in a positive learning environment. But I want to do more to help ease the culturally inflicted and accepted curse of Math Anxiety. I want to join forces with all those who are working to ease math-induced tension and fear while cultivating in students a love for learning and confidence in themselves.
This website is my small platform to provide as much help as I can to families everywhere who want to help their children learn in meaningful, tear-free ways. Follow my blog to see insights into our homeschool life; I will share stories, lessons learned, free printables, ideas, and inspiration for you in your own journey raising learners — whether your children are in public, private, charter, or home school.
What’s in it for you?
I’ve taught math and tutored math for years (decades, centuries maybe by now), but I’m ready to transition to a new phase where I can offer help through digital resources. I’ve begun building a small library of resources for homeschooling families, tutors, and teachers that are focused on specific topics and individually packaged at low price points ($2 – 10 dollars each) to help make the material easily accessible to all. I have a dream (among many) that I will someday turn this content into video tutorials so that the material can be more hands-free for parents and easy for students to follow.
I plan to create content that is universal, not tied to any specific state standards, and presented in a way that will lead students into a solid understanding (and appreciation!) of math that they can continue to build on throughout their life.
I’ll be drawing from my experience in the classroom (teaching 6-12 grade math — mostly Algebra and Geometry), tutoring students of all ages, and homeschooling my own sons, as well as pedagogy I’ve learned through my math major and Masters in Teaching. (Not intended as a #humblebrag — just laying out some street cred here.)
If any of this sounds interesting to you, please subscribe to follow along as I post ideas, stories, resources, and learning-related tips here on the blog. And I would LOVE to hear your input about what topics you (or your students, children, tutees, etc.) would find helpful. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Math Resources for Teachers, Tutors, and Homeschooling Families:
If you’d like to see my growing library of educational resources (mostly focused on math) for pre-K through high school students, you can visit my online store at: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Sandra-Balisky. You can read more about my new venture in this blog post here.