Finding a Focus

       About a month ago I wrote a post about finding inspiration and identifying my passions.  I decided to dedicate time to research areas of interest and to reach out to other educators whose work interests me.

Our living room and creative space 

I found inspiration in the work of by a former primary teacher in Canada who designs creative spaces for children.  You can see her work at Brillante Design.  She recently decided to start a school, a small private Kindergarten for girls,  based on the work of John Dewey, Jean Piaget and a research-based approach that includes play and inquiry.  You can read more about the school at Brillante Beginnings.  Once upon a time, opening my own school was a dream goal…but I need more time to think about what I can do now and in the coming year.

I had the opportunity to exchange e-mail with Dr. Donna Ford a professor of education at Vanderbilt University.  She is involved in research that addresses issues of equity in gifted education.  I am very interested in advocating for children from unrepresented groups and special populations, especially English language learners and I asked her how I can get involved.  Dr. Ford began her own advocacy group.  She mentioned there is no advocacy group for bilingual gifted learners. She suggested that if I am interested in advocating for bilingual students students I should start my own advocacy group.  I haven’t ever thought about starting an advocacy group and I am not sure how one does it (she gave me a few tips) so this is something I need to learn more about.

Monica Creates image
Monica Creates on Teachers Pay Teachers

 I also had a chance to have lunch with a retired reading specialist who recently started own LLC, Monica Creates, LLC.  She makes Printables for teachers and sells them on Teachers Pay Teachers. Before meeting her for brunch, I had looked into making my own worksheets for personal use and it hadn’t occurred to me to sell them.  I explored the Teacher Pay Teachers site and I can tell you there is a plethora of Printables made by very creative teachers.  Monica was able to explain the entire process of creating, selling and marketing Printables on social media sites.  I was completely overwhelmed by the process and the time it takes to build a following and brand etc…things I have never thought about before.  I am don’t think selling Printables is the direction I am headed in.  I am thankful to the many creative teachers who create them and sell them.  I have bought quite a few in last couple weeks to use with the student I tutor.

I am passionate about education and about issues of equity in education AND I’ve noticed that what I enjoy most of all is working with learners from preschoolers to middle school students.  I enjoy learning about their strengths and areas of need. What I enjoy the most is the challenge of finding the ways to engage them with the concepts and ideas they need to learn.

Montessori Materials and a Math Game

I dedicated time and effort to find my inspiration, to research the areas of education that I am interested in.  I found that I still have big dream goals.   By reaching out to others, I am better able to see how I can make use of my experience and knowledge.  I am not ruling out starting a school or an advocacy group just yet, those big dreams scare me…a lot.

  • I will start by offering more tutoring services to students the next school year.
  • I would also like to offer a combination math and art class for middle school girls  this summer (inspired by Anna Chernecki at Brillante Beginnings).
  • I want to find a way to address issues of equity in education in my local community.
Learning about factors and prime numbers.
Printables by me to use with my young student.  🙂
I love finding ways to make algebra accessible and engaging for learners.

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Maria Arana

Hi, I am Maria, a mom to three wonderful kiddos. My family and I live in Phoenix, Arizona. We love the beauty of the desert southwest. I am a former primary teacher and elementary math coach. I have focus on encouraging my children to follow their interests and passions. I believe the learning environment plays a key role in our experience in school and at home. It is as important as what and how we teach. We have the ability to create an environment that encourages imagination, creativity, and independence. At Guided Learning Studio, I offer private tutoring, enrichment classes and help learners follow their interests and passions.

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