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Positive Proactive Parenting: Unlocking Math Success With Malgosha Farafoszyn

March 14, 202446 min read

Many students find math to be a challenging subject. As parents, we can play a proactive role in supporting them as they overcome this hurdle. In this episode, we have Malgosha Farafoszyn, a Learning Success Math Coach, to share with us the method that can help take our children to math success: Positive Proactive Parenting. She helps us understand the unique difficulties students face, exploring feelings of dread, shame, and even parental pressure. Malgosha advocates for proactive parenting, encouraging open communication and a positive approach to support children in math. Join this conversation and get valuable insights on establishing a positive parent-teacher relationship and the importance of addressing mindset and emotional well-being. Discover the power of changing one's narrative about math abilities and the transformative impact of Malgosha's approach on students' confidence and success.

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Positive Proactive Parenting: Unlocking Math Success With Malgosha Farafoszyn

I have the pleasure of talking to Malgosha Farafoszyn, a proactive math coach with a unique and compelling story. She has taken the challenges of her own educational journey and transformed them into a beacon of hope for students everywhere. She knows firsthand the barriers that come with the label, “I'm not a math person.”

She is more than a teacher. She is a holistic neuro-growth learning success coach who specializes in math and makes math enjoyable and accessible. Specializing in high school to first-year college calculus, she is dedicated to filling in the gaps in her students' understanding of math. We'll explore her transformative coaching method that turned doubt into confidence. Join us as we learn from her how to change I can't into I can and I will.

Malgosha’s Math Journey

Welcome, Malgosha. It's such an excitement to have you on my show. I know you didn't like math, but you are a holistic neuro-growth learning success coach who specializes in math. When you were growing up, that's a different story. Tell us about your relationship in math when you were growing up.

When I was in elementary and junior high, I liked math. It was all right. It made a lot of sense to me. It was very linear and logical. The hate came when I went into high school. When I went into high school, it was a different world. It wasn't the math that I had learned. It was something completely different. It went fast. I was treading water, trying to survive. There was no mastering anything. It was surviving. During that time, my relationship with math was not great. I had to take courses twice. In grade 10, I took a math course twice, as well as in grade 11 and grade 12. I could have higher marks, but I still didn't understand that it was going way too fast.

The speed was a problem.

Aligned Learning Revolution (Activate, Accelerate, Achieve) | Malgosha Farafoszyn | Positive Proactive Parenting

It’s the speed and the intensity.

Understanding Your Child’s Mind

This show is for parents. I want you to explain how a parent who has a child in their family is experiencing something like you. They have done well, but they hit some grades, and it seems like math is no longer their favorite subject. You wonder what happened to you. Help us understand what's happening in the child's mind so parents can understand it.

The first thing to understand is that the education system, for some reason, is experiencing a huge jump. It's this gap that's already there from grade nine. I'm talking about the Canadians because I'm in Canada. The Canadian education system is based on what you learn in grade nine to what you start to learn in grade 10. There's a big jump. Not only is there a big jump, but all of a sudden, you get so much more content in it.

When you get something like that, as a student, when that started happening and it was coming at me, I was like, “What is going on? Why are there many things? Why don't I understand anything?” At that point, there was no trying to understand. There was trying to survive. When that was happening, as a student, you started to not like it because you were not understanding and you were constantly behind, constantly not.

You're spending several months in the classroom, not understanding what's going on. It turns into dread. You're going to math class, and you're like, “Not again.” I'm going to sit here for an hour and ten minutes and not understand anything the teacher says. Sometimes, if I go to ask the teacher, they're going to ask me, “We did this before.” How come I don't remember? I'm going to feel shame. I'm not going to go ask.

I don't want to tell my parents at this point because I should have told them to wait at the beginning. They're also going to be asking me, “How come you didn't find help?” There's no chance to catch up. You are hit with something. You're trying to survive as a student. Even students I have are trying to survive. By the time they figure out this isn't going well and isn't working for them, they're already behind. That's the question that comes up. That shame keeps students from coming forward, and they keep struggling.

Why Tutors Are Ineffective

As parents, we think, “Let me find help for them.” We can hire tutors. That's where the differentiation for you came in because you were a tutor. When parents bring some students like this, you know what they need because you've been struggling through this. What was it that you couldn't give them as a tutor because you were a tutor once before you became a holistic neuro-growth learning success coach?

As tutors, we come in and help students with what they're doing in class. If they don't understand that, they're missing something or didn't get something from before. When I was with students, I could see, “You need to be reminded how to do fractions. You forgot the fraction operations or integers.” Because they're already on the next step, I've had students tell me, “No, you're here to show me how to do what I'm doing now. I don't want you to teach or show me the stuff from before.”

That's why tutoring wasn't working for me as a tutor to help students. I wasn't helping them. I was doing and guiding them through their homework. What do you do if you have this? It wasn't effective. They also have two months off. By the time they come back, they're not doing math during the summertime or their breaks. If I could explain certain things, they could get up to where they are. Tutoring was not an effective way for me to help students.

You were a teacher in the classroom. Many times, you were in private schools teaching, but even there, you didn't find the fulfillment. You couldn't help the students the way you wanted. There was something missing. Tell parents about that because a lot of teachers try their best, but sometimes it doesn't work in the classroom. You found the same thing in your classroom.

Being in a classroom as a teacher, I can't say that it's not an easy job. It's hard because if you think about it, students come in, but they're not at the same level with everything. Some of them are gifted and average and have gaps from other years or things happening. You're in a classroom. As a teacher, you have your curriculum, and you have to teach a certain thing in a time and amount. You have all different levels in the classroom.

We're in the classroom teaching the curriculum. We're not necessarily teaching the students. We're teaching the curriculum that we're supposed to pump out. I tried my hardest when I explained it. I try to explain it in a way that they understand. If a student has a gap, they're not going to understand. I would offer the tutoring after.

It wasn't paid. It was during the lunch hour. I would say, “Come in after school.” Not a ton of students are showing up because who wants to do school and, on the break from school, do more school? It was tough to get them in, but I knew if I did, they would achieve that success. That's outside of the classroom. That's not within the classroom.

Challenges With Curriculum

Tell us a little bit about that because it's hard for parents to understand. When we're delivering curriculum, why can't you address all the students? Why not address the students at the same time? Tell me why it is not possible.

If you think of you have deadlines at any work, you have deadlines that you have to hit in a certain amount of time. Each week, you have a deadline to get this accomplished. The next week, you have to get this accomplished. It's already a big task to even get the first topic or unit taught. You have to do it in a certain amount of time. You don't have time to veer off and take a trip into the students who have some gaps in fractions.

By the time we get to grade 10, you need to know how to do fractions. We're not reviewing fractions. You need to know how to do integers. We're continuing to go. Once we hit that mark, we're like, “We've hit this. We switch to the next one.” There's no time. Even though there are times when teachers do take their time, because of the varying levels within the classroom, what happens is if you're teaching to the students who need the review. The students who don't need the review are bored. What do you do with them?

You have 25 of these students. Each and every one of them, they're individual learners. We have to figure out how to keep them busy, engaged, and learning. Sometimes, we even fall behind because we're trying to do that, and other things come in, such as the students saying they're bored or their parents coming to us and saying, “You're teaching this, but my child is bored.” They always say, “If a student is gifted or if a student is doing well, give them more stuff to do.” Is that an effective way to use that student's time and give them more stuff because they're done faster?” That also doesn't jive well.

It's almost like a punishment. If you finish fast, let me give you more work.

If you're finished, I have a booklet I can give you now. They're like, “I'm finished. What's my reward?” Even the time management of trying to figure out what to do and if you're in high school and you have a specific subject you're teaching, you can't say, “Work on the English that you have.” You have to stay within the math. You can say, “Work on your other homework.” In math, I do my math stuff, and it's my homework block. It's not addressing their needs. Maybe they want something more complex or something that they will have to wrestle with and problem-solve.

We are giving them busy work versus they need more engagement and challenging work. They can get to the next level. They see it as purposeful work instead of busy work. When you give more pages, they're like, “Next time, I shouldn't finish fast. They're going to put me to work more.”

That's what happens in a classroom. Those students who are doing well get discouraged. They're like, “I finished fast. Now, I get to do more work. I want to be an engineer. I want to know how the math pertains to that.” We can't address that because we're one teacher versus 25 students. We'd have to come up with 25 different lessons.

Teachers do the best they can. This is the system we have had in the classroom for a long time. It's still this way. We do talk about differentiation. It was a buzzword and is still used in education, where you teach at different levels. Even when you're teaching to different levels, you still can do a maximum of three. You're giving someone busy work. While I'm attending to the students who are getting it and wanting that extra knowledge, I'm giving busy work to the other ones. While I'm working with the students who are struggling a lot, I give the other ones busy work because I can't split myself into three to be with. It's tough.

Positive Proactive Parenting

Before we go there, give us some tips to parents if their child is struggling with math because that's what you focus on. Is it math that they're struggling with, or is there more to it because you are a learning success coach? You look at various things when someone struggles. What should parents pay attention to some stuff that they can pay attention to?

Do you mean when their student starts to struggle?

How can they help? Give some tips to them.

One tip is to be in the beginning when they start the school year is to be more active in asking them how they're doing in checking their marks and assuring the student that you're not doing it because you want to get them into trouble and you want them to feel like they better do their homework or else. You're checking in to see how they are doing in case they need that support. A lot of the time, there's a shame that comes on a student. It usually comes from themselves. I felt shame. I didn't have to talk to my parents or teacher. When we went to talk to our parents, there was an added shame because we didn't want to disappoint them. As a child, you don't want to disappoint.

When parents check in to see what the student is doing, they use a different approach instead of asking, “Did you do your homework? How come you didn't do your homework? Why aren't you doing your homework?” That is combative, and it puts the student at the defense. More so to come at the student and say, “How are you doing? How is it going? Do you understand? Are you having trouble? If you're having trouble, don't worry. It's okay that you're having trouble. We will figure out and come up with a plan of what to do.”

That way, the students will feel more comfortable when they are struggling to come to the parent faster than when students come to me now when it's been a month, and the parents say, “They have a test on Monday. They're doing bad, and they failed everything.” There's a panic. It's a good proactive, but in a positive, reassuring way that it's not a scolding.

You're front-loading the child that I'm not going to be mad, but I'm here to support them.

When I'm coaching my students, that's the approach I have. They never have to feel ashamed that they don't know how to do something, they forgot how to do something, or they're having an off day. We are going to start where they are. There's no tension in the air. It's a comfort. If you don't know, tell me, and we'll fix that fast. Rather than let's hide the student hiding it. It became this big bomb that was ready to explode in a bad way.

How can parents get help for their kids at school and with their teachers? What's the best way to be proactive with the teacher?

The best way to be proactive with the teacher would be to email the teacher at the beginning and ask the teacher something like, “My student is coming in. I would appreciate it if you could let me know how they're doing after the first quiz or the second quiz and how things are going. If there's anything you notice, let me know. Not only when the student gets a quiz but also to know when the quiz is.

I have a parent who called me in a panic. She said, “My son is not doing well. He's writing a second unit test. He failed this and that. I didn't have access to his account.” She's getting access to the account. She's emailing the teacher. Something that parents sometimes forget when students go into high school is that they're still kids and students. They didn't graduate from being the teacher holding their hand throughout elementary and junior high, and in high school, they can let go. It's still the same.

If they check in with the teacher, say, “Let me know how things are going. Can you let me know when the first quiz is and which week it is if they don't know what the day is? Can I check in with you afterward to see how it's going? The teacher would be happy. If I was a teacher and got an email like that and a parent was like, “Can you give me some feedback afterward?” There's something happening before anything. I write myself a note and get back to the parent. It's also an extra eye that the teacher can look out for that student. The parent can be proactive.

As parents, we have to be proactive. That also helps the child see that you care. You're not going to get into action when they're failing because moving into action when they're failing means that you only care when you fail. When you're doing well, I like to know how you're doing because we like to show off as kids. Don't we like to show off to our parents? Look how I'm doing well.

You establish that relationship as proactive as you can in the beginning, and the teacher knows that you care. Every teacher loves to see that the parents care and they're involved. It doesn't have to be every day after school that she needs to give us a report. That doesn't make any sense, but after a certain point.

Another thing I want to add is teaching your child to be proactive with their teacher in getting information early. After school, teachers are always welcoming their students into their classrooms. Come and talk to me. They can start learning that from an even younger age. Parents can install that habit. Ask your teacher when your next test is. You don't have to wait until they announce it. You can find out. That's a good skill set to develop as a habit for our kids.

From I Can’t To I Can

Teachers like that because now they know you care because the child is doing is showing the teacher they care about school and education, which is a good thing to start because in a university if you go talk to your professors, you get so much more help than if you attend their lectures. They go to college. It's important. It’s an amazing habit. I always tell my kids, “Introduce yourself to your professor, coach, or whoever you're working with. Make a personal introduction to your teacher.” How did you change from being someone who hated math and choosing to become a math teacher?

I left high school saying, “I'm never going to do any career with math.” It is a familiar thing I hear from lots of my students. They're like, “I need to pass, and I'm never going to touch math again.” I was that stereotypical student saying the same thing. I've tried going into different careers, like human resources and administration. I was a receptionist. Every time I went into these careers, I was like, “I don't like this. This isn't for me.” I experimented, which is fine.

At the end of the day, I remember my grade three self who said, “I want to be a teacher.” My grade three teacher would make spelling mistakes on the board, and I was like, “Yes, you can make mistakes as a teacher. I don't have to be perfect. This is awesome. I can be a teacher.” I went back, and I was like, “I'm going to go and be a teacher.” That's what I wanted to do since I was in grade three.

I am ambitious. I was like, “I need to get a degree that will ensure that I get hired.” I decided to go through the four-course subjects, English, Science, Social, and Math. I decide which one I'm going to go into because I want to be hired. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with doing any other degree. I'm competitive. I’m like, “I need a guarantee.”

I did the process of elimination. I like science, but chemistry was not it for me. Goodbye, Science. Social, I'm sorry to say that it was boring. I was like, “I can't do it.” I had two, Math and English. I did go into English, but they introduced me to old English, and I had to write a paper. I was like, “I lived in Canada most of my life. I can't even understand what they're saying.” English is gone. Math was the only one left. I took a breath in. I'm like, “If other people can do it, so can I.”

If other people can do it and other people have done it, why can't I?

I want to stop you. Say that again because I love that.

If other people can do it and have done it, why can't I do it? I was like, “That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to do math.” I went from not wanting to do math in my career to jumping headfirst into a math degree. Was it scary? Yeah. Was it a challenge? It was one of the biggest challenges of my life. I set my mind to it. That's important. I set my mind to it, and I'm going to do it. Other people have done it, and I will figure out a way to do it no matter what.

You have no other choice because the other three doors are closed. You have to say goodbye to teaching. You could have chosen an art teacher or a woodworking teacher. Those were available if math didn't work.

A lot of people do Sociology or Psychology. They are not a core subject. They do a degree. I wanted it to be specific to what I was doing. I didn't know math would be the specific thing I would be doing later on.

That's what you called grit.

We talk about this thing called mindset. That's the thing that's thrown out there a lot nowadays. It's also the grit. You can set your mind to something, but you also have to do the work. You also have to push through all the barriers and doubts. I had many doubts. When I started the first math course, I was sweating. I was afraid because I was like, “What am I doing? I'm taking a subject that I didn't like, struggled with, and didn't know where it came from. That's what I'm going to spend several years doing in university.

You go out and teach others.

I didn't know I was going to do that.

You wanted to become a teacher. At the end of the road, it was teaching.

I want to be an elementary teacher. While doing the math degree, I fell in love with math. I was like, “I've proven to myself that you don't have to be a math person as they say you're a math person or not. You don't have to have that already within you. You can learn it.” That's what I fell in love with. I fell in love with the whole process of going from something I didn't know how to do to eventually succeeding in it. I wanted to help other students have that same success and see that it's not impossible. They can do it. That's how it came to me being a math teacher.

I want to touch on the fact of the grit that everybody says mindset, and this is a problem because mindset is a result. You get that as a result of many different things, which are commitment, consistency, perseverance, grit, and changing and shifting your stories. You started shifting your stories from being, “I'm not a math person. I can't do this. I will never get this right. These are things students say.” To, “I'm going to try it. I'm going to give it a shot.” You saw that you were capable.

There was nothing genetic about it or structure in your brain that wasn't capable of any of that. With math, it was all there. The wiring was there, but our stories blocked them. We tell ourselves, “You're not a math person. Don't even try it.” This is what our students and children go through this same thing. It’s not just with math but with other things. We can tell ourselves something that it's not for me without knowing our capacity to do it. We block ourselves.

You came out, and you're like, “I'm going to be a math teacher. I'm going to help students.” It’s the same as me. After I discovered math, I was like, “I'm going to share whatever I hacked in math and have these codes. I'm going to give it to them easily. I'm never going to let another person say I hate math.” That was my thing.

You entered the school, and we talked about it already. The differentiation becomes a word that we hope and pray for. If you have 26 to 30 kids, differentiation is not possible. Even if you differentiate, you're still living out someone out of that differentiation because you're differentiating. You're bucketing people in the class. The other bucket sits there, giving extra work and making them bored. They're like, “I hate math. It is boring.” We haven't given them what they need to be doing or challenged them at their level.

Wholistic NeuroGrowth Learning Success Coach

You went into tutoring. We want to differentiate tutoring and what you do as a holistic neuro-growth learning success coach who specializes in math. There's a big difference because it is a new thing for parents. Let's explain that. How are you different? What do you do every day? How is that different than what you did as a tutor?

The first thing that's different is the holistic word that we say. I'm not addressing the math portion. I'm addressing the student, the person, and the student as a person. I'm addressing them as a whole. It's no longer like, “What did you do in math? Let's do this math, and let's go.” Many other things come with being successful and being able to do any subject or do anything. It’s your mindset, grit, stories, and mood on the day you come. That day, you're not in the mood to do anything. Nothing is going to happen.

The other one is neural growth. That's everything about the mind and rewiring and how it's wired. I see a lot of these on social media. It's like, “You do it. You go.” The workout people who have a nice figure are like, “Yeah, I go and do it.” They don't feel like doing it every day. Nobody tells you that part. They don't tell you that you're not going to feel like doing it every day. What do you do when you don't feel like doing it? What do you do when you're stressed out about other stuff or subjects in school? What do you do when something happens? All those things are happening in our brains at the same time that we're doing math.

Neuro growth is finding different pathways of doing things and creating different stories. We have a story that's going on. Let's cut that story and make another story. That's another thing. We're teaching to the whole student. We're encompassing them as a person, a student, a math student, a daughter, or a son in our sessions.

We're also helping to rewire and help them if they're anxious during a test. I will help you work through that anxiety. The next time you go to a test, you won't have that anxiety anymore. That's the biggest difference. We get to know the students well. We get to know their moods. When we get to know them in that way, and we get to know their personalities, the way that we help, teach, and coach them is different than when we say, “Let's sit down. What's 3+3?” It’s different.

Tutors are constantly focused on the content, whereas the student is ignored. Who cares how you're feeling? We don't have time for any of that. It's like going to the emergency room. I'd always compare in my head. When you go to the emergency, they need to get to the problem right away, whatever you are coming to. They don't do a full checkup on you right away unless it's needed and required later on. They have to immediately close whatever's bleeding. That's how tutors work. At the surface, they're fixing it. Did they get to the root cause of stuff? No. You and I have been a tutor. We never get to that. Explain that.

We never get to that, but sometimes when I was tutoring, I was like, “I've been with you for a few months. Every time we do integers, positive, negative numbers, every time we get to those questions, anything with that, you can't do it.” I was like, “That's the struggle. If we fix that, they will be okay.” I had these things in mind.

I had a student tell me one time. This was when the student said this to me. That was the moment I realized I couldn't be a tutor anymore. It's not effective. I was sitting with him. We were doing something. I was like, “If I teach him positive and negative numbers and how to do that, they'll be fine. I can teach them what they're doing in their classroom.” I said, “Let me take five minutes. Let me show you this.”

The student stopped me and said, “No, you are not here to do that. That's what my teacher does or can do. You are here to help me with my homework.” I stopped dead in my tracks. I was like, “
 Every question we do is going to be a struggle, and I can't fix it. I have a time restraint. I'm here for one hour. You come once a week for one hour. We have to get that homework done, and that's it.”

You are surface fixing, not to the gap they have, and they don't even want to address it because they're like, “Give me all the shortcuts and get me to finish this. Get me ready for the next test.” After the test, it's not going to stay for them because they never truly learned it. It was in the short term. We can give them some input, and they will remember that period of time.

When the final exam comes, most students struggle because they haven't comprehended the whole concept. They memorized it, and it's gone. If we don't properly file it in the long term, you'll never be able to access it later on. It's gone. Another big problem with tutoring is that we don't have that time. Even if we wanted to, the kids are not ready for that because they're in a rush. They’re like, “I need to finish this. I need to get ready for my quiz. Don't talk to me anything about anything else. I got to get going.”

Parents also bring in that urgency. When parents come, they're also looking at it. That's why we talked about positive, proactive parenting at the beginning. When you have that in place, you can keep checking on your child. You don't have to get to a point where you find out on a report card, and you’re like, “My child got 55 in math. We only have one month to get this up. They got to pass this final exam.”

This mark is meaningful because I always compare marks to getting paid. For a student, that's their paycheck. I thought I was going to get $1,000 for my paycheck, but I ended up getting $200. You're like, “Where did my $800 go?” We don't want to shock the student and the parent being proactive. That's our work now. The theme is being proactive. You explained about neuro growth holistically. How do your students respond to this, relationship-wise? You said other students said you're a homework helper. What about these relations? Do they not tell you that?

We don't call ourselves tutors. The whole coaching approach is that we are coaching them to understand what they're doing. I don't do homework with them. They do their homework by themselves. It’s the magic of coaching. When I tell parents that, they're like, “What do you mean they do what? They do their own homework. How do you help them?” I help them understand, and they can do it, which means they can do their quiz and test. They don't need me sitting there with them, walking them through it.

Math is complicated in many ways. You also make it simplified. That's another part of you being that learner who hated math, and you self-taught yourself during those years when you knew you needed to do this. You stick with it, and you learn it. That gives you that added advantage. On top of it, you're also helping the students to prepare their soil.

I always think of our mind as a land of soil. We have a mine soil. If we can't plant something on land that's not prepared, we've planted it, and we're going to run into problems. There might be rocks or no water supply. All of these things have to be addressed, and the land is prepared. You can plant and harvest because that land is prepared.

It’s the same with our mind. If it's not prepared and we try to plant something, which is the content, the land will not give any harvest. It's even going to reject that planting quickly. That's what happens to our students. They're not ready. We're content-driven in the school system. When something doesn't make sense, and we try to give content, the kid starts rejecting it at some point.

The thing that helps with their mind soil is getting them ready and prepared to take something in and what to do with something that's completely new. I tell my students, “You don't know how to do it. How many times have you seen this? Your teacher showed you one time. You're feeling bad because you don't know how to do it and ashamed. You've cut the learning there. You don't know how to do it. That's okay. Let's start preparing that soil and figuring out how to take something that you don't understand, or they told you one time, and you think you should know.”

Let's change and rewire that thinking to, “I have this new thing that my teacher's telling me. I don't get it yet, but I will. What are some steps I can take to try to understand it?”That's when many things come in. It could be asking the teacher, watching a video, asking your parents, or getting support. Even though we help students, there's a fence or gate that happens between the student and us. There is that where there are barriers. If they are not willing to get the help, it's not going to work.

We also need to help them get that mind soil ready and get them ready. It's okay. If you need help, it’s awesome. There are going to be many things in life that you're going to be doing and seeing for the first time that you will need help with. Let's start doing it now when you're in school. That carries over to teach them that later on, no matter what challenges come up, it's okay that they don't get them in the beginning. They can eventually. That's changed and rewiring their brain to be like life’s skill, and they are open.

There will be many things in life that you're going to be doing and seeing for the first time that you will need help with.

The Beauty Of Math

With the skill you talked about, I wanted to mention to parents and kids or students reading this that it's transferrable because next time you get stuck in real life, you're not going to be like, “I can't do this. I'm not capable.” You're going to say, “This is something new. Why should I know this?” I've never fixed a tire myself. I have a flat tire. I don't have to go, “Why don't I know how to fix this? Why am I not doing this?” I will figure out solutions. I’m like, “What can I do next? Who can I call? Is there a number I can call?” You can calm down. The beauty of math is critical thinking and problem-solving.

Many parents say, “Why do we learn calculus? I'm not going to be an engineer. My son or daughter's not going to engineering. Why are they pushing this calculus?” I always tell them how much our minds grow when we're exposed to math problems. We can twist, turn our minds, and work on this story that you were sharing with me. I can't do it. I'm going to give it a try. What information do I need? What formula do I need?

Sitting with that problem for a while in an unknown space, isn't that what life is and knowing where to go for the solution? That's life. Learning math is a life skill that you can transcend into everything you do for the rest of your life. It makes you calmer. You become like, “I know there's a solution, but I don't see it. What do I need to get to it?”

The beauty of math is the part of problem-solving. You don't have to get the answer right away. If you don't get the answer, that's it. You're failing math. In life, there are many problems we're going to have. Do we always know what to do at every time? No. Math is a transferrable subject that I didn't know when I was in school. You don't know how to do something. You attack it one way. If you don't get it that way, there’s no giving up. Let's try a different way. Let's take a break, come back to it, and let our minds sit with it.

The beauty of math is that part of problem-solving is you don't have to get the answer right away.

I tell my students that. After I give them tons of stuff, I see their eyeballs getting humongous. I'm like, “What you're going to do is go away and not do any math at this point.” You need it to marinate. You need, in your brain, to start going. How many of us parents are thinking of how to do something? The more we think about how to do something and solve the problem, the more we come up with no solutions. We do something else.

When we're on a walk, cooking, or reading a book, all of a sudden we're like, “I know what to do.” It's like a light bulb goes off. That's life. That's how we solve problems in life. That's how math is. I also tell my students, “Don't stress yourself out that you don't know how to do it immediately. Let it sit with you, and it will come to you.

Sitting with that is a life lesson because sometimes you don't want to solve things like that. It's okay to take a moment and leave that problem hanging. Go for a walk, sit by yourself, watch TV, and do something that's not going to be triggering that problem. I need to solve this. I need to solve this by fixating on it. Let it go and come back, and you'll be like, “I never even thought of that.”

Your brain is able to connect them like puzzle pieces. That's why you love puzzle pieces, which you have in the background because they all come together and create the bigger picture for us. We can force it. That's why you provide an environment where your students can explore math with you by their side. They get this confidence that they can solve anything. All I have to do is become a researcher, give some time to my brain, and say the right things, and my brain will work together with me. We teach that. As a neuro-growth learning success coach, one of the things you teach is you can control your brain. It doesn't control you. You can command action from it. It's in your hands, not the other way around.

Isn't that what nowadays is the thing that everybody's after the COVID and everybody is sitting with themselves and they had all these stories, they're like, “I need to change how I think about things and rewire my brain?” Why not grab the student when they're a student? Why not help them rewire it at a young age? When they're older, they already have that rewiring and all those tools in their toolbox. They're able to do that and function well.

Advice For Teachers

A lot of different audiences are reading this blog. One of the people who is reading this is a teacher. As a teacher, what can you advise them in the classroom? It is hard, but the show is not about pointing fingers that it's hard and we can't do it. At that moment, what could they do to be helpful to the students who were struggling like you and I were in the classrooms, who were daydreaming and drawing stuff to pretend we were busy so no one picked on us?

There's something that I heard about teachers or when students are asked about their teachers. What do you like about your math teacher? The student remembers how the teacher made them feel, not what the teacher taught them. When they are asked, “Why do you like your math teacher?” They're like, “She's nice. She comes and helps me.” If you ask them, “What does she help you with?” They'll be like, “Numbers and math.”

A lot of times, what the student remembers is how the teacher made them feel, not what the teacher actually taught them.

As a teacher, if we shift our focus, sometimes we can get into, like, “No, you have to know this. We have to keep going. Stop asking the question.” If we focus more on the students as people and addressing their needs, and if you can't address them right away in the classroom because that will take you on a different tangent, you let them know, “I've heard you. I won't do it right now, but I'm going to write a note here. After I'm done teaching up here, I'm going to come to you, and we can talk about it.”

Addressing them in that way will make a big difference, even if they don't understand the math. If they are struggling with math, they'll feel that their teacher sees them. They'll be more likely to come and ask for help. When we're teachers and we're busy, and we don't know who needs help, we're like, “I can't help all these students. Johnny is okay.” On the test, we're like, “Johnny was not okay. He never said anything. Why didn't he ask?” Focusing on having a nice relationship, addressing those things, and not getting caught up in the time limit, sometimes we can be dismissive. I've been dismissive. I’m like, “No, we can't do this now. Let's keep going.” I don't like that.

Catch yourself at that moment and say, “It's not the content that's going to be wired into their brain. It's how you made them feel at that time. When they needed that help, how did you make them feel?” The next day, they might want to learn the content because they're feeling better. Feeling affects what our brain does to us. It can cloud and shut us down. If the teacher is constantly giving the students the space to be themselves and address their feelings, the next day, they might start performing and not have those negative thoughts that stop them.

The next day, they might come in and be like, “Let me pay attention more and see if I can get it.” Even if they don't get it, at least you have their attention rather than constantly not addressing that part. They come the next day to class and disrupt the class. We're like, “Why are you disrupting the class? We don't have time for this.”

As a teacher, it's hard. We have limited time, and we have to catch ourselves. I had to catch myself many times, hold my tongue, and be like, “I have to take that 30 seconds. It's 30 seconds, and you can write a note here and have a notebook in front of you. This person asks this. You couldn't address that in the classroom with everybody. You can go after the student, “Tell me what you're having trouble with. Let's walk through this. That student’s confidence and self-esteem will be like, “She sees me. She's going to come and help me. I'm going to try harder in the class for her. If I'm struggling, I will ask.”

Advice To Parents With Struggling Math Students

What's your advice to parents who are struggling in math or children in their family?

I don't want to say that parents shame them, but parents get it sometimes into a panic. They’re like, “Haven't you been doing your homework? Why didn't you tell me this earlier?” It's normal to panic because we think it's late. Take a deep breath. When your child is struggling, go up to them and say, “I'm not going to get mad at you. I don't want to make you feel bad, but I've noticed your marks aren't the best in math. Can you tell me what's going on? Do you understand what's going on?” You’re reassuring them like, “If you are having trouble, let's figure out how to get help. It must feel awful to struggle and not know what to do. It must be stressful and anxiety.”

Tapping into how they feel and making them feel reassured that you're not going to get mad at them and you want to see, “If you are having trouble, let's find a way. You don't have trouble and have a better time.” You can even say, “I used to have this problem, and I needed help. It's okay to need help. How can I help? If I can't help, how can we figure out where we can get the help?

We’re being positive and proactive parents. We're teaching our children to be proactive at the same time. What do our children do? They watch us and learn from us. They're like sponges, absorbing everything you do. This is the best way to show them how to become the best parents themselves later in life.

There are many skills, like learning. That's why I love more than education. I love learning because learning is happening all the time. You and I are learning right now. Whoever's going to read this is learning right now. Learning happened. Education is different, but learning is every day and in any situation. When a parent is positive and proactive in their parenting, they're instilling all these important skill sets into their children. The next time they struggle, they know how to be proactive themselves. It's amazing. Is there anything else you want to add, Malgosha?

If your student or child is struggling, there are solutions. Sometimes, when they start to struggle and do other things, we go into panic mode like, “What are we going to do? The time is running out.” It's okay. There is a solution for everything. There's no such problem that there's no solution to it, and you can never solve it. There is a solution. Be proactive in finding the best solution that will fit the student.

There is no problem with no solution to it. You just have to be proactive in finding the best solution that will fit the student.

Tutorials at school do not fit the students because they don't understand the teacher. It doesn't matter that the teacher has extra time. The students don't look up the videos on their own because which student sits there on their weekends looking up math videos to help them, even though they have them at their fingertips? It’s to figure out what's going to work. If they need that external help, get the external help without having a negative connotation, like, “We need to get help for you. We're going to do it my way.” Figuring out the student's way that's going to work and having a meeting with one of us to see what's even going on.

The beauty of what you do is you also give clarity to the parents you work with as a holistic neuro-growth learning success coach. It is a family thing. When a child starts failing or doing something that is not what they expect in school, it affects the whole family. If you have younger kids or older kids, they pitch in, and they're watching. You have a whole family situation, which means more problems come up. It's hard.

Positive, proactive parenting is the word today. Thank you, Malgosha. It's always a pleasure speaking with you. I love what you do for your students. A person who went from, “I don't like math, I'm never going to touch math.” In the process of elimination, she got stuck in a math class. She had the grit and the perseverance to be like, “I'm going to stick to this and figure this out. If someone else can do it, I can do it too.” Thank you so much for what you do for your students. I know they love you. Thank you.

Thanks for having me.

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That is Malgosha. She is such an amazing holistic neuro-growth learning success coach. Her dedication to getting her students to love math comes from her struggle with math. That's why I always say the best teachers are the ones who struggle with the concept or the subject that they choose to teach. She is one of those beautiful people. She has created many transformations in the lives of students. It's amazing.

I want to touch on a few things she said for parents and teachers to focus on building that relationship versus the content. Students always remember how we made them feel. Are they feeling heard by the teachers? They do way better than students. We push content because it doesn't connect. We need to connect before we can correct everyone because what Les Brown says is, “Before you correct someone, you need to connect with them.” That's important.

The biggest words that were shared again in her presentation were positive, proactive parenting. I love it when we find these words that have the same letters that start with, I love it. I have all these C words that I work with. It's important to be proactive parents. Sometimes, it's hard for us. We want the best for our kids. We try to jump in there and solve it. Sometimes, we don't know how to deal with it. If it's our first time seeing our child struggle, we don't have the experience to deal with it proactively or positively. That's why it's important to be proactive.

Take those steps and ask about their school from the start of the classroom. When it starts, start asking them those questions, and be there with them. You're not policing them when they do bad, but you are with them, walking along with them and guiding them even when they're doing well. When they do fall behind, you're there to guide them to the proper help.

I also hope that you understand the difference as a parent. You understand the difference between tutoring and holistic neuro-growth, learning success coaching, which is what Malgosha does specializing in math. It's important to look at the child as a whole person. We usually think of our students as students, but they're real people. They have feelings. They have mind stories that they're dealing with. We always say, “Have a positive mindset.” It's impossible for someone when they're not doing well in their life and subject to have a positive mindset. It doesn't happen. It has to come from having the right mind stories.

Where Malgosha and neuro-growth learning success coaches are able to help is to transform those stories. They can help our students and kids move forward rather than being stories that hold them back. I hope you enjoyed that presentation. If you have any suggestions or information you want in addition to this, please ask in the comments section. I would love to hear what you have to say about our show. Thank you so much for reading, and I'll see you on another episode.

Important Links

About Malgosha Farafoszyn

Aligned Learning Revolution (Activate, Accelerate, Achieve) | Malgosha Farafoszyn | Positive Proactive Parenting

Malgosha Math Coaching

Malgosha Farafoszyn is a proactive and dedicated math coach, known for her unique approach to teaching mathematics. With a personal history of overcoming challenges in math, Malgosha transformed from a struggling student into a passionate educator, embodying the belief that anyone can become proficient in math through hard work and perseverance. Her teaching philosophy centers on bridging the gaps in mathematical mindsets, ensuring her students not only overcome their fears and stigmas surrounding math but also find joy and excitement in the learning process.

Malgosha specializes in high school and senior school mathematics, with a particular focus on first-year calculus. Her method involves a blend of patience, innovative teaching strategies, and a deep understanding of the emotional and cognitive barriers that students face. By creating a supportive and engaging learning environment, she encourages her students to embrace their mathematical journey, fostering both their academic growth and self-confidence.

Her commitment to making math an enjoyable experience has not only transformed the attitudes of her students towards the subject but has also established her as a respected figure in the educational community. Malgosha's story is a testament to the power of personal transformation and the impact of dedicated teaching on shaping the next generation of mathematical minds.

Positive Proactive ParentingMath SuccessWholistic NeuroGrowth Learning Success CoachCanadian Education SystemMindsetTeachers
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Kohila Sivas

Kohila Sivas is a parent and a lifelong learner. She has been a classroom teacher at all levels and a Special Needs Instructor and is a Professional Math Interventionist, a Master NLP coach, and a #1 Best selling author.

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