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 love to encourage my children to follow their interests and passions. At Guided Learning Studio, I offer private personalized lessons and enrichment classes. Tutoring services are best for families seeking long-term educational support over a semester or school-year.

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