JoyThis summer, Karmin and I spent a significant amount of time researching both the little independent and large national tutoring companies. What struck us both as unfortunate was that the large national companies were focused on the bottom line; they discouraged individual tutoring so as to have each “teacher” work with a group of students as the students worked through a binder.

While group tutoring can be beneficial, it is only when the group is 3 or less children, all of whom are on the same conceptual level and are learning similar topics. Furthermore, having students work solely from a binder of worksheets is not the best way to individualize learning, nor does it excite kids and create a love of learning.

The intention of this post is not necessarily to bash the large tutoring companies, but rather to highlight the joy that we find on a daily basis when students are given the opportunity to delve into authentic learning. There is also a great amount of joy to be found when one learns that struggling and persevering leads to accomplishments, a feeling that cannot be re-created in completing a worksheet.

In any given week, I work with students from pre-school age to freshmen in high school. To this end, it means that my work with students ranges from number identification to quadratic equations. Just tonight, I worked with a four year old, a fourth grader, and then a third grader. The four year old expressed immense joy as she could use one-to- one correspondence with numbers up to 9. My fourth grader had endless smiles because after the last year of school spent where he was told that he wasn’t a proficient math student, he now was formally recognized as one of the top math students in the entire grade. And finally, my third grader kept shrieking that now that she sees so many amazing patterns and connections in numbers, that she wants to do math everyday, including the weekends, for the rest of her life!

This, my friends, is joy. Sometimes it’s easy to wish that the education world brought a six-figure income, but when I realize that I have the capability to help create that much love and fun in learning, there isn’t a thing in the world that I would rather do.

Recently, I have watched so many friends (including myself) leave teaching because the joy of learning is being sucked out of what we are able to do each day in the classroom. I am so grateful that Karmin and I took the leap to create Mathletes & Bookworms because it has not only allowed me to expand my world of teaching, but has really given me the ability to spread my wings and watch as kids change their views on life-long learning. Joy.


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