Rebecca Zook - Math Tutoring Online

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Posts Tagged as "mastery"

Update: Me + my cello are going to Iceland!

Monday, August 7th, 2017

Rebecca Zook playing cello in Central Park – Photo Credit Martin Lee #ChineysPhoto

Hey beautiful ones!

I am so excited!

I’ve been invited to Iceland to perform and record with my cello this August in a sacred cave, on a magical glacier, and in an ancient forest full of elves!

So I will be stepping out of my office to fully immerse myself in the Iceland experience.

After taking two weeks as a full break, I’ll just be serving my magical math mentoring clients from Iceland while performing and recording.

I am totally looking forward to sharing this new magical Iceland energy with you when I return!

In the meantime, if you are interested in working with me one-on-one, you can submit your application for my special math mastery programs here.

I will be scheduling application interviews for when my schedule is open in September.

In the meantime, if you’d like to to follow my magical cello adventure in Iceland, I’ll be sharing updates right here on my facebook music page, including videos of me performing.

Sending you love,
REBECCA

PS. Update to the update: I’ve now returned from Iceland and am accepting applications for new students!

If you would math to feel like a magical adventure for your child,
just fill out this application here.

Once your application is received, I will reach out to schedule a special application interview for us to get clear on whether my work would be a fit for your family.

I’m so excited to receive your application!

Posts Tagged as "mastery"

What Parents Of Math-Confident Children Secretly Do (That Typical Parents Don’t) – #5

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

5. Math-masterful parents commit to steady math mentoring support for the long haul.

Typical parents try to “get tutoring over with” or “wean off” the tutoring out of fears of dependency.

But math-masterful parents understand that high-level mentoring support is actually a path to deeper and deeper independence, and allows their child to be nurtured in continually more sophisticated ways as they gleefully move up the upwards spiral of true growth.

So they keep math mentoring support in place, month after month, year after year.

They say yes to support again and again, making sure their child continues to be mentored even after their child starts to consistently get straight As—just like an athlete continues to train after they make a national team, or just like a ballerina continues to do barre after she is chosen for a renowned company.

Because the parent and child have this support in place, neither of them is worried about what will happen when the going gets tough (and they know that it will).

They know that support is already there, ready, waiting, on the calendar, and they never have to go back to those dark days of math desperation again.

As a quick example of this, there’s a family that has been working with me now for over 4 years.

Because of the consistent mentoring support they have in place, this student just had the most relaxed experience of finals ever and was able to stay calm when she was surrounded by peers who were panicking.

This meant that her parents, instead of feeling miserable during finals because their daughter was so stressed and overwhelmed, actually felt relaxed themselves during finals.

Do you wish your child could go through this same transformation?

I would love to talk to you.

Just fill out this application here.

As soon as your application is received and reviewed, I’ll reach out to schedule a special appointment for us to connect on the phone and get clear on how I could best support your family.

I can’t wait to connect!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

Related posts:
What Parents Of Math-Confident Children Secretly Do (That Typical Parents Don’t) – #1
What Parents Of Math-Confident Children Secretly Do (That Typical Parents Don’t) – #2
What Parents Of Math-Confident Children Secretly Do (That Typical Parents Don’t) – #3What Parents Of Math-Confident Children Secretly Do (That Typical Parents Don’t) – #4

Posts Tagged as "mastery"

What parents of math-confident children secretly do (that typical parents don’t) – #2

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

I’ve come to understand that many parents tend to misunderstand what is actually needed for a child in math crisis to become math-confident.

Did you know that parents of math-confident children have a very specific set of beliefs and behaviors that set them apart?

I’m on a mission to educate parents about this.

First (as I shared in my last article about this), math-masterful parents see high-level support as normal and desirable, both for their child and for themselves. (Full details here.)

Second, parents of Math Masters are no longer willing to suffer or wait.

Typical parents tend to respond to a child’s persistent math struggles by waiting and hoping that their math issues will just magically go away by themselves.

They will tell themselves things like, “Let’s just wait and see what happens,”
“Let’s see how my child does between now and the end of the year,”
or “It will start clicking for my child eventually.”

But almost always, what happens is, in the best case scenario, the child barely manages to keep their head above water.

Or, worst case scenario, the child’s math understanding spirals downward…and the situation just keeps getting worse.

In contrast, math-masterful parents face reality and take control.

They understand on a deep level that if they continue to do the same things that aren’t working, they’ll just continue to get the same results.

Their child will struggle and suffer, and so will the parent.

So math-masterful parents choose to take a different action to create a different result.

When faced with an opportunity to receive support that will actually help their kid, they say yes and move forward.

As a quick example, one family was referred to me by a colleague at the child’s school. The student was tired of struggling and went to the math department head with her mom to ask for a referral to a math tutor.

This department head knew that the student loves to sing and dance, so she told her and her mom, “You should call Rebecca, because she sings about math.”

When the daughter told her mom, “Let’s call Rebecca right away,” they ACTUALLY called.

And we started working together almost immediately.

After our very first session, the mom emailed me that a weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

And the mom’s relief only increased as her daughter continued to receive this aligned support and get consistently great grades.

Did I just describe *your* mindset? Do you see high-level math mentoring support as normal and desirable? Are you no longer willing to wait while your child continues to suffer from math challenges?

I would love to connect and explore how I could best support your family.

To take the first step, just fill out this application here:

Once your application is received, I’ll reach out to schedule a special appointment time for us to connect and get clear on what’s not working, what you want instead, and whether my work would be a fit.

I’m totally excited to hear from you!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

Related Posts:
What parents of math-confident children secretly do (that typical parents don’t) – #1
The secret ingredients of true math mastery
When doing your math homework just isn’t cutting it

Posts Tagged as "mastery"

What parents of math-confident children secretly do (that typical parents don’t) – #1

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

I recently had an epiphany.

I’ve come to understand that in my case studies and articles, I’ve been focused primarily on student behavior and student results.

Yet each of these transformations was only possible because of their parent’s behavior and beliefs.

Just like a Wimbleton champion works out differently than a typical person, or a billionaire invests differently than a typical investor, parents who set their kids up to be math masters (whether or not they’re involved in their child’s day-to-day learning) have a very specific set of beliefs and behaviors that set them apart.

Let’s look at exactly how you can choose to adapt these beliefs and behaviors to create this transformation into math mastery for your child.

1. Math-masterful parents see high-level support as normal and desirable, both for their child and for themselves.

A “typical parent” mindset is usually something like,

“If my child has a math tutor, it means that they are in some way ‘less than’ or ‘not smart,’ because smart kids don’t need help.”

And then they focus on getting away with as little support as possible, or ‘weaning’ their child off of the support they have in place, because they’re concerned their child will be dependent.

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to truly be a master.

Masters receive the highest-level support available.

And they do so consistently.

You wouldn’t quit singing lessons after winning the lead in a musical.

You wouldn’t fire your personal trainer after qualifying for the Olympics.

You wouldn’t get elected President of the United States and then not have a cabinet.

Just like that, math-masterful parents understand that having high-level math support is normal AND desirable, and they set their kids up with the highest support available.

As a quick example, one mom came to me because her daughter was joyful about everything in her life except math, which made her miserable and anxious. And then the mom was also miserable and anxious.

Her approach was to set her daughter up with math support just like singing lessons and dance classes—as just another important piece in the big picture of her daughter’s life.

Now her daughter is happy and confident about math, and the mom is relaxed because her daughter is relaxed.

Did I just describe *your* mindset?

Do you see high-level math mentoring support as normal and desirable?

Are you no longer willing to wait while your child continues to suffer from math challenges?

I would love to connect and explore how I could best support your family.

To take the first step, just fill out this application here.

Once your application is received, I’ll reach out to schedule a special appointment time for us to connect and get clear on what’s not working, what you want instead, and whether my work would be a fit.

I’m totally excited to hear from you!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

PS. More secrets of math-masterful parents will be posted here – this is just #1 of 6!

Related posts:
Does having a math tutor make you a “loser”?
What to do when your kid’s math terrifies you
How to know when it’s time to stop tutoring your own kid

Posts Tagged as "mastery"

Five Steps to True Mastery

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Have you ever taken a math test you felt completely confident about, only to find out that you bombed it and you weren’t prepared at all?

Trust me, you’re not alone. But why does this happen so frequently?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. And this is what I’ve realized.

True mastery takes more than one step. But I’ve never seen these steps discussed before like this.

And I definitely didn’t hear about this when I was in math classes growing up!

This is what I had to figure out all by myself, and now do in all of my one-on-one work with my own clients.

Let me break it down for you:

1. The first level of mastery: you can follow along passively when someone else is explaining a concept to you or demonstrating how to do a technique.

You aren’t actively participating, you’re just observing and listening, and what they’re saying makes sense.

2. The second level of mastery: you can do problems interactively with someone else.

You are actively participating as they walk you through the steps of the problem and you do it together.

3. The third level of mastery: you successfully complete a similar problem type completely independently and get the answer correct – and you understand why – without any guidance or corrections from someone else.

4. The fourth level of mastery:
you consistently get the answer right on enough similar problems that the concepts get internalized and the process becomes automated.

You have the track record that shows you that you really are prepared to go in and do this successfully on a quiz, test, or exam.

5. BONUS: The fifth level of mastery: you understand the concept and technique so well that you can easily and confidently teach someone else how to do it. When you get to this level, you know that you’ve REALLY got it!

Until you get to the point where you have at least “level four mastery” and consistently get the answer correct on problems of a similar type (and understand why), you aren’t really prepared.

For example, a student will passively understand someone else’s demonstration and think, “Great! I got it! I am ready to rock this test!” However, that is only level 1 mastery. Just because you can follow along with someone’s demonstration of how to bake muffins from scratch doesn’t mean your own muffins will taste good. Watching someone else do it is ONLY the first step.

Another place where major problems can happen is when students think, “Great! I did two of these problem types correctly and I understand them. I am ready to get an A!” That is like getting the basketball in the net twice and thinking that you’re ready to win the next game. It takes consistent training and practice to get consistent results.

Do you wish you knew exactly to do to get consistently awesome results in math?

Are you tired of doing everything you know to help your daughter or son prepare for math tests, only to experience soul-crushing defeat time after time?

Are you ready to invest in high-level, one-on-one, super-customized support that is not typical tutoring?

Then click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to explore whether or not the way I work would be a good fit for you!

I can’t wait to connect!

Related posts:
On Optimal Challenge
Need to remember something important? Breaking news!
“It’s eraser time!” (And other math mantras)
“Interesting,” not “Complicated” (Math Mantras Part 2)

Posts Tagged as "mastery"

When doing your math homework just isn’t cutting it

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

2014-03-18_2146
What if math could make you jump for joy?

Did you ever take the Presidential fitness tests growing up? I vividly remember being asked, about once a year, to run a mile. Even though I got a lot of cardio growing up from serious ballet training, running the mile in middle school and high school pretty much always made me feel like I was going to die. Even if I actually ran the whole thing, there would always come a point midway where it literally felt like my lungs were bleeding inside.

Looking back at this experience, I was like, what the heck were the PE teachers thinking? If you only run a mile once a year of course you are going to suck at it and totally hate it!

What about actually creating a physically fit generation by nurturing students to LOVE to run… not just endure a yearly test? What about actually creating a generation of students who LOVE to do math… not just “get through it” to make the grade?

Whether you’re at the starting line of a race, or freaking out the night before a math test, whenever there’s a gap between what we’re being asked to do, and our preparation, it can create a lot of stress and fear.

And very frequently, the reason you will have trouble in math, or with your physical fitness test, is because – bottom line – the practice you’re assigned is NOT ENOUGH for you to really master the material and be prepared for the task.

Ironically, usually when you’re in that “freaking out” place, the last thing you want to do is do MORE of what is freaking you out… whether it’s running a mile or doing math problems.

It actually requires a significant shift in your mindset, away from “let me just get through this” to “how can I truly master this so I can consistently perform at the level I desire”… And working from that new place of aiming for true mastery is so much more rewarding and satisfying… you can even learn to LOVE what used to fill you with fear and despair.

I’ve seen this transformation in my own life and also in so many of my students’. What I’m talking about here is a much higher and deeper level of taking personal responsibility for your own experience. And the beautiful result of this is realizing that whether or not you “make it” is really, truly up to you, not your teacher’s agenda or assignment schedule.

So how do you DO this? Let me share some super easy to implement tips for how to customize your own “math workout” when you know that your homework alone is not enough.

Here are some great ways to create extra practice that matches what you’re already working on:

1. Super simple: if you are assigned the evens, do the odds for extra practice, or vice versa. Just be sure that you’re able to check your answers somehow so you know you’re practicing things correctly.

(extra tip: If the answers aren’t in the back of the book, you can check a lot of math problems by plugging them into www.wolframalpha.com and it will tell you what the solution is. Just a word to the wise: Wolfram Alpha is a very powerful tool, and it often includes a lot of extra information that might be way more than what you’re looking for or need, so don’t get overwhelmed by all the “extras” – just pay attention to the parts you need, like a solution for ‘x’, for example. Just trust that the more sophisticated stuff will make more sense later on in your math learning adventure!)

2. Look for an ‘extra practice’ section in the back of the book. Most math textbooks have extra practice in the back, but a lot of times teachers won’t mention it or assign problems from it. Again, it’s most valuable when the book also includes solutions to the problems so you can check your work.

3. Don’t wait until the end of the chapter to use the “study guide” or “chapter test” problems for extra practice. Most books have a chapter review at the end of each chapter which will include several extra problems for you to use, labeled by section. Use them for extra practice as you learn each section. You can always revisit them closer to the test if you like!

4. This is a little more advanced: make up your own problems by just changing a few of the numbers. This is best to use if you know there’s a way you can check your answers so you know you’re practicing correctly, or if you are feeling confident about checking your own work.

5. Invest in an extra math textbook for extra practice. (I am a fan of the Algebra 1 & Algebra 2 “Structure and Method: The Classic” books, which also make a good reference.) Use the table of contents and the index to find problems that are similar to the ones that you’re working on.

6. Get the solutions manual or teacher’s manual for your regular textbook.
When they’re available, they usually include answers to EVERY problem in the book, not just selected problems.

(Note: Please understand – my intention in suggesting this is absolutely not for students to take a shortcut and skip doing the work of the problem. It’s because it’s something I personally do when I’m learning a new math concept or technique and I want to make sure I can check ALL my work.)

7. Most important: be sure to choose problems where you can check your answers as you go, whether in the back of the book, from wolframalpha, or from a trusted friend or adult. If you don’t know if your answer is correct or not, it’s like practicing the violin wearing earplugs. The only way you know you’re really learning is if you’re getting feedback that you’re on the right track.

Are you tired of watching your kid do their homework diligently night after night, and then bomb their tests and quizzes? Do you dread trying to answer your kid’s questions about math? Are you ready to invest in totally customized support so that your son or daughter can see great results from their hard work and experience math as a source of joy and strength?

If you answered yes to those questions, you’re invited to apply to my very special one-on-one math tutoring programs!

Just click here to get started with your special application. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to explore what’s going on with your kid and get clear on whether or not it would be a fit for me to support them! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

Related posts:
How to experience math as your own unique creation
Three simple tips for the night before your math exam
Tips for how to help your kid with their math homework
Self-made heroes: the dancers of planet b-boy

Posts Tagged as "mastery"

I just can’t keep this a secret any longer

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

For a long time, I’ve been hinting at this… or feeling like it was expressed already… but it’s time for me to just come out and say it, loud and proud.

I am not a typical tutor.

What I do is not typical tutoring.

My results are not typical.

My students are not typical.

In fact, I’m coming to realize that what I do is SOO different from typical tutoring that I’ve realized it’s almost confusing when people use one word, “tutoring,” to describe typical tutoring and what I do.

So it’s time for me to really be clear about how the way I work is different, and how my students receive an experience that is completely different from typical tutoring.

Because I’ve recently heard some parents describe their other tutoring experiences, and it’s so different from how I work, I am almost flabbergasted.

Here’s what I am NOT about.

Kids have told me about working with tutors who just had them memorize and regurgitate a bunch of steps. Then the kid would just forget the steps as soon as they didn’t need to use them (like three days later), because they never actually understood what they meant. This is not how I work. I am not about “just getting you through it.”

I’ve had parents describe working with tutors who would literally say, “I managed to find the answer, but I can’t explain why.” That is not what I’m about. My intention is always to have YOU be able to get to the answer, AND clearly understand why.

I’ve heard about tutors who just made sure that the kid got their homework done. This is not how I operate. Our sessions focus on developing and retaining the skills you need to complete their homework on your own. We will work on very similar problems so you are really prepared to do your homework solo. If you only practice those problems collaboratively, you won’t feel secure and confident on your tests and quizzes when I’m not there.

I’ve heard about tutoring which is just about doing worksheet after worksheet after worksheet, in silence. I know that this approach works for some kids – but that is not how I roll. Our sessions are dynamic and totally customized to you.

I know that some tutoring is just a recapitulation of what is happening in the classroom. But if that’s already not working for you, why do more of what ISN’T working? My sessions are completely individualized to each specific student, even if the way they need to the approach the material is really different from how it’s being taught in the classroom.

And I’m also not just about grades or getting kids into an honors or AP class. I’ve seen it happen time after time that good grades are just a natural byproduct of truly understanding the material. When you focus on mastery, the grades just gradually happen on their own. And if you get a grade that is not as high as you want or expect, it’s just an indication that there was some gap in your understanding that we can address together.

I am not about ad hoc support or being a bandaid. I know that some students receive tutoring inconsistently in big lumps, like four hours the night before an exam. My experience is that this does not create lasting change, and it does create a lot of drama and stress. Math is like working out – something you need to do consistently if you want to see results.

Finally, I am absolutely NOT about tutoring as a way of encouraging dependency. Some schools have told me that they are concerned that if kids receive tutoring, they will be dependent on their tutor “getting them through it,” the kid will hold up the class because they are so confused, and then the kid will barely scrape by. That is not the way that I work. Students who work with me experience genuine mastery, make a positive contribution to their math classes at school with their confidence, preparation, and creativity, and earn grades that reflect their deep understanding and ownership of the material.

OK. Phew!!!! Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest about what I’m NOT about, let me tell you what I AM about.

Mastery. What I care about is MASTERY, and my work is about the mastery process. Like an elite tennis coach or an elite cello teacher, we focus on mastering the skills of math, increment by increment, to create permanent, transformational, holistic math fluency.

Individualization.
I am constantly customizing what we are doing and what I am saying to the individual student in every single nanosecond. We find ways of approaching the material that make sense with how YOU think. We keep you in the “sweet spot” where you are challenged and growing, but what we’re practicing doesn’t make you bored (it’s too easy) or anxious (it’s too hard).

Emotional Environment. We work in an atmosphere of trust and camaraderie. Our sessions are lighthearted and filled with commitment, mutual respect, and let me just come out and say it, love! Laughter is typical. Singing and dancing is encouraged!

Consistent Mentoring Relationship.
We work within the context of a long-term, consistent mentoring relationship where we both commit to your organic, aligned math transformation. Even though I am the tutor and you are the student, we come to the table with deep respect for each other and the understanding that we both have important things to contribute to our process. We work in an apprenticeship model where the student’s self-expression and intellectual contributions are nourished and valued – even if, in the current moment, they feel totally overwhelmed and helpless!

Empathy. I can feel if a student is frustrated, overwhelmed, or elated, and adjust my approach accordingly.

Emotional Reality. I explicitly address the emotional challenges of math. Even though emotions are basically NEVER addressed or even mentioned in most academic math contexts, I have found that the reason why people give up on math is because of how they FEEL. So it is essential that we address math feelings as an intrinsic part of the mastery process. If a student has a panic attack in class, breaks down and cries, or is feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, we talk about it, honor the feelings instead of suppressing or ignoring them, and develop strategies to help them become resilient no matter what emotions come up.

Individuality is encouraged.
It has been my experience that our greatest contributions and breakthroughs happen when we are being completely ourselves. All my students are encouraged to express their individuality during our work together, whether that means jumping up and down with excitement, making up original math songs, taking a quick break to jump or dance, feeling free to move around throughout the session if they are highly kinesthetic, or even just wearing their favorite purple tutu to our sessions.

It is a vehicle. At its core, what I offer is actually not really about math at all. It is actually about learning how how to overcome the seemingly insurmountable, and we just happen to use math as a vehicle to do that.

Support is normative. Since we’re all in a continuous process of refining our skills and expanding into our own personal genius, it is normal to continue to receive top-level support even after you start to excel. After Lindsey Vonn wins a skiing medal, she doesn’t stop training. Once you make CEO, you don’t stop receiving executive coaching and tell yourself, “I’ve actually got this down.” When you are a prima ballerina, you don’t stop rehearsing with your master teacher. The kinds of students I work with want to keep receiving mentoring and experiencing this one-on-one mastery process because they want to continue to do their best and keep learning, even after they start to initially do well. Because it’s about continuous growth and expansion, there is no limit to the potential of the process.

My clients have told me that working with me is like working with a life coach, or seeing a great psychologist. One family even coined a new word for their sessions with me – instead of calling it tutoring, they call it “Zookuring.”

But no matter what you call what we do, once you realize that you can go from hating math because it’s so confusing, to loving math and experiencing it as a source of joy and strength – “no one can take it away from you,” to quote a parent whose kid experienced this very transformation. And this experience of autonomy and self-efficacy in the face of a massive challenge has a huge positive impact on what students believe they are capable of, and ultimately, what they actually accomplish during their time on this earth.

Are you tired of “typical tutoring” that doesn’t address the underlying issues? Are you discouraged by support that doesn’t take into account what your kid actually needs to understand how math actually works? Are you ready to experience the kind of joyful, individualized transformation I’ve just described?

Then just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child.

I’m excited to receive your completed application!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

Related posts:
Failure is not the enemy
On being yourself while doing math
How to help kids be okay with things being hard
What a Balinese dancing queen taught me about praise and encouragement
What I learned on the streets of Paris…and in a Dutch grocery store

Posts Tagged as "mastery"

What I learned on the streets of Paris…and in a Dutch grocery store

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Rebecca and Alex in the Netherlands
Me & my new friend Alex at our training in the Netherlands

I recently had the opportunity to travel to the Netherlands for a very special training! I got to spend two days in a huge, luxurious barn (now outfitted for humans) and experience the beautiful southwestern Dutch countryside, full of incredible trees…

Rebecca in the forest in the Netherlands

spirited horses…

Rebecca with horses in the netherlands

…unexpectedly considerately quiet chickens that made no noise until long after I’d awoken, and amazing smells! (Unfortuately I don’t have a picture of the chickens or the smells.)

On my way to the training, taking the country-wide commuter rail from the Amsterdam airport, I was checking out the commuter rail map, and I couldn’t believe it.

At the bottom of the map was… Paris!

My heart leapt. This felt like looking at the Washington DC Metro map and finding it went all the way to Cuba or Buenos Aires!

So the morning my training was complete, I did one of the craziest things I’ve ever done. My leaping heart led the way, and I decided that later that day I was going to Paris with absolutely no plans.

I bought myself a ticket and got to experience the European high-speed rail (which felt kind of like a cross between the Hogwarts Express and the Starship Enterprise). On the train I managed to find a hotel room … and the adventure began.

It was a crazy blend of having moments of complete euphoria, where I just felt overjoyed for no reason except that I was in Paris and everything was so beautiful that I felt like my head might just explode. And then moments of complete overwhelm, where I was totally exhausted and confused.

Me & shelly in paris
(That is me and my friend Shelly in the ferris wheel in front of the Eiffel tower, during one of my awesome Paris moments, not one of the overwhelmed moments!!!)

But what surprised and delighted me the most of all wasn’t that I could buy roasted chestnuts from the street vendors at the Christmas market. It wasn’t that there was gluten-free patisserie run by incredibly sweet people. It wasn’t the autumn beauty of the Jardin de Tuleries, or walking into the Sacre Coeur cathedral in Montmartre and realizing that nuns were singing.

What surprised me the most of all was that I could actually communicate in French! After not using it AT ALL, whatsoever, for AT LEAST 11 years.

Me & alex in front of the eiffel tower

Just to give you some context, I had been to Paris before, right after I graduated from high school, and just two years or so after studying French academically.

On that trip, even though my French was WAY fresher in my mind, I didn’t actually have much success communicating with anyone. Plus my parents, who both speak some French, were happy to lead the way.

But on this recent trip, somehow I was having conversations, in French, about relatively complex topics like, is this dog lost at the Christmas market, or does he belong to someone nearby? (In case you’re worried, his name is Elvis and he belongs to the lady who works at the nearby restaurant, and just likes to walk around in front).

Even more surprising to me was how the vast majority of Parisiens went out of their way to talk to me in French, and how patient and lighthearted they were as I expressed myself with my limited vocabulary, and how much we were actually able to talk about together.

I really tried to figure out, what is it that had changed?

Then I realized.

It was my Indonesian language training.

Several years ago, I learned Indonesian in a total immersion environment, that coincidentally also seemed to train me to be extremely friendly, polite, and assertive in a foreign language.

It also trained me to be playful, experimental, and completely not worried about doing something wrong (unlike my more typical French language courses where any mistake I made out loud could dock my grade).

Somehow, this experience was SO internalized that it came out when I was speaking a completely different language!

I noticed it again when I was at a Dutch grocery store, trying to figure out which type of jam I should take home to my family. The grocery store guy spoke great English but couldn’t remember the names of the berries, so I just guessed what I thought it might be and he would tell me whether or not it was right. It was a totally fun game, and he kept exclaiming, “You should work here!” because my berry guesses were somehow so accurate!

At one point, there was one jar we couldn’t figure out. He went to grab a colleague. This guy was a berry expert, and told me what everything was, and what he thought was the best.

Somehow, this completely ruined the game. My heart sank.

Why? Why was it so fun and successful with the first guy who couldn’t remember the English names?

With the first guy, I felt safe, I felt like I could make mistakes, and I was having fun! And I was LEARNING. With the second guy, it was all about his expertise and had nothing to do with me trying to figure it out. It was completely passive and while informative, sadly boring. And I wasn’t learning. I was just watching.

It made me realize that not only is it super helpful as a learner to be playful and experimental, but, that you need to have someone who is willing to be playful and experimental with you. If they just want to tell you everything while you stand there and listen, it doesn’t matter how playful and experimental you are.

For me, when I’m learning, it is so important to be in an environment with someone else where I feel safe, where I feel like I can make mistakes, and where I can have fun.

In fact, these elements are so important to me, that’s how I work with all my own students! (So much so that this is what I think about even when I’m on vacation!)

So, if you or your kid is struggling with math and having a “overwhelmed in Paris moment” instead of a “euphoric beauty in Paris moment”…

if you are sick and tired of being in a math situation where someone just tells you everything and doesn’t help you learn to figure it out on your own…

if you want to not only transform your relationship with math, but also gain skills that help you become way more experimental, assertive, and proactive in other subjects…

I would love to talk to you.

Just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Related posts:
What a Balinese dancing queen taught me about praise and encouragement
Dealing with (Math) Overwhelm (1)
When learning feels like a forced march
Self-Made Heroes: The Dancers of Planet B-Boy

Posts Tagged as "mastery"

Tips for a Happy Math Year – #2

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Hey there! It’s time for the second tip in my five part series of Tips for a Happy Math Year!

And here it is…

Slow can be fast. Sometimes kids need more time to digest or absorb information than is planned for in their classroom curriculum. Maybe their teacher expects them to memorize all of their times tables from 2s through the 12s by the end of the grade, and but they’re panicky and spotty about their 4s.

It’s okay. If your kid needs more time, just keep working on it together and be patient. It’s better to thoroughly learn one new multiplication fact a day than to try to cram stuff in their brain that’s not sticking because the pace is too fast.

In my experience as a tutor, it is far more powerful and paradoxically, faster, to slowly learn something really well the first time, instead of having to go back and re-learn it over and over, or deal with the repercussions of everything else that doesn’t make sense because the prerequisite concepts are shaky. It’s all about staying focused on the process and not giving up.

Do you know that your kid needs more time than they’re getting in the classroom, but feel like it’s just not possible for you to give them that one-on-one undivided customized attention yourself? Do you want to invest in your kid having a safe space to ask any question they want without feeling embarrassed, and get all the practice they need to truly get math deep in their bones? Do you dream of your kid having a huge smile on their face about math, and embodying the attitude that, “hey, nothing can stop me from choosing to go for my passion, because I know I can do math, and it will never get in my way!”?

TJust click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child.

I’m excited to connect!

Sending you love,
REBECCA

Related posts:
Tips for a happy math year – #1
How to learn math when you’re in the car
How to find a good math tutor
When a math problem just takes For-EV-ah
How to help kids be okay with things being hard

Posts Tagged as "mastery"

When you’re just not sure if it’s right

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Yesterday I was working with a student on some very sophisticated geometry problems that require a lot of synthesis and creativity. She had come to me with the questions she hadn’t been able to figure out from her summer geometry homework assignment.

For a second I thought she meant she hadn’t known how to start on the problem, but while I was putting the diagram up on the whiteboard for us to refer to together, she said, referring to her preparation, “I was just doing this big thing, and I don’t even know if it’s right.”

I was like, awesome! I was so happy that my student dove in and explored, even though she wasn’t sure if she had done the right thing.

When math becomes more demanding, it frequently requires two completely different skills: really internalizing everything you’re learning so much that it’s completely automatic, (like writing your name or eating with a fork); and THEN, being able to creatively combine those ideas, concepts, and strategies in ways you’ve never done before when you’re faced with something mathematically completely unfamiliar.

I told this student how proud I was of her that she had tried to solve the problem so extensively even though she wasn’t sure what to do – instead of just giving up or waiting.

I explained, “It just means that you’re in the exploration and experimentation zone, instead of the repeating and recycling zone.” We go through the process of internalization in order to flourish when faced with the unfamiliar.

And then, we train ourselves to be comfortable – even lighthearted and jubilational – when faced with something we’ve never seen before. To be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and to ask ourselves questions like:

What could I try here?

What concepts do I recognize in this problem – even if I’ve never seen anything quite like this before?

How could I get started?

Is there anything I could fill in on the diagram?

OK, if that didn’t work, what could I try instead?

So, is it OK to not be totally sure? Absolutely! In fact, it is an extremely important space to become acquainted with, and to befriend: “the not-totally-sure-if-it’s-right space.”

Are you worried that your kid’s current math issues will prevent them from understanding math in their own unique way and being able to live their dreams?

Do you deeply desire that your kid receive high-level, super-customized math support that feeds their autonomy and helps them really do what they’re here to do in the world?

Just click here to get started with your special application for my one-on-one math tutoring programs. Once your application is received, we’ll set up a special phone call to get clear if my approach would be a good fit for your child.

I’m here for you, and I’m so glad we’re connected!

Sending you love,
REBECCA