Experience & Activities
Sydney Miller Milbert has a background in the fine arts and graduated with degrees in fashion design and marketing. Changing paths after graduation, she worked for an international education technology company in content production and community building, where she developed an interest in project-based and collaborative learning for school-aged learners.
Sydney has taught nature and problem solving (modified S.O.L.E.) classes and led book, STEM, and art clubs for learners aged 4 to 12, where she focuses on connecting learners not only with the subject of study, but with each other. In her clubs and classes, she focuses on building meaningful connections and believes that these connections lead children to cultivate a passion for learning.
Sydney has been homeschooling her children for over 5 years and in that time, she founded a local homeschool co-op that grew into NICE Circle, a 501c3 non-profit homeschool support organization that offers opportunities for homeschoolers in her area to participate in clubs, field trips, and service projects.
Sydney works with the SEA Homeschoolers Online Conference Series team and is currently illustrating an upcoming book with author Blair Lee.
Sydney lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area with her two children, husband, two dogs, seven chickens, and one fish. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, drinking coffee, cooking and trying new foods, and creating art with many different mediums.
Online Teaching Policies for Sydney Miller Milbert
Families will receive a full refund if they withdraw before the class begins. Families who withdraw after class begins will receive a prorated refund based on the time remaining in the class.
If the withdrawal is for schedule conflicts or a learner struggling with class content (that is either too easy or too hard), I am happy to work with families to try to find solutions.
(NOTE: Refunds made more than 30 days from purchase date will be docked a 10% administrative processing fee.)
I try my very best to avoid class cancellations. I often teach classes even if the minimum number of enrollees has not been met. However, I do reserve the right to cancel a class if the minimum enrollment is not met. I will do so 48 hours before class begins and issue full refunds.
In the event of an emergency that requires me to cancel an individual session, I will work with individual learners to find a sufficient make-up strategy. This may include a recorded session or a rescheduled session.
In the rare event of an emergency that requires me to cancel a substantial portion of the class, I will either find a substitute or issue prorated refunds for the class. If I must find a substitute, families will have the option to receive a prorated refund instead of continuing the class.
I recognize that students have different comfort levels and experience with participating in online class environments. Students are welcome to participate in the way that works best for them. While I prefer students to appear on camera and participate via microphone in live classes, I am also okay with students who do not want to appear on camera and use only the microphone or chat box. In our asynchronous spaces, such as message boards and shared drives, students are encouraged to participate in weekly discussions and share the results of their weekly activities. Regular participation is highly encouraged to get the most out of the club.
In my book clubs, there is a suggested reading guide, which includes a weekly reading schedule. For example, one week might say, “Read Chapters 1 – 7.” Learners may read at their own pace, but I encourage everyone to stay on schedule as much as possible so that club participants are reading at roughly the same time and can then discuss the weekly questions together.
There are also weekly hands-on activities. Some are more involved than others and will take varied amounts of time. The materials will be listed and should be easy to get, or things you might already have on hand.
At the end of each book, there is a final project. Students are invited to present their final project at a live meeting at the end of each session. If they would like to present, they should have their final project completed by that date. If they cannot or prefer not to attend the scheduled live meeting, but would like to share, they are encouraged to record a video of their presentation and post it to the shared classroom space.
If students cannot complete homework, they are welcome to reach out to me for guidance.
I welcome families to do what works best for them, but I believe learners will get the best experience if they complete the work assigned.
Because my book clubs revolve around all learners reading and participating regularly, it’s important to try to stay on schedule. Discussions and sharing happen asynchronously, so that students can participate when it works best for them. There is a lot of built-in flexibility, so late work will hopefully not be an issue. That said, I will try to work with students to make the class work as well as possible. If there is a good reason that a learner needs an extension on a due date, please reach out to me. Work that is turned in late may be late receiving feedback.
It is important to me that all students have a safe and enjoyable classroom experience, so I have some behavioral guidelines to reach that goal. My general behavioral guidelines are as follows (and will also be announced directly to students in an age-appropriate way):
- Mute microphones if there is excessive background noise
- If we are in a large class, you may have to use the “raise hand” feature before speaking
- No mean-spirited comments in discussion boards (disagreements should be handled respectfully)
- Students must wear clothing when on camera
- No flooding the chat with off-topic content
- No name calling, bullying, or unwanted private messaging
- No sharing contact information with other students without parent permission
- No disruptive behavior that distracts other learners (such as constantly changing background screen, changing screen name to something silly, making faces at the camera, etc.)
My top priority is that all learners get the best experience they can out of the class. This means that my response to behavioral concerns is to address the individual problem with the least amount of disruption to the student concerned as possible. In general, I try to mitigate a specific behavior rather than remove a student from the classroom or limit their participation.
Here are some examples of ways that I may address behavioral issues in order from least to most invasive:
- Disable particular functions of the online classroom (for example, turn off private chat, manually mute microphones, turn off a video feed)
- Privately reach out to students to ask them to stop the behavior during class
- Reach out to students and their families to brainstorm a solution to a behavioral issue outside of class
- Require a parent/guardian to be present during live sessions in the event of repeat behavioral violations
- Remove a student from live sessions but allow them to continue in the rest of the course and send recordings
- Remove a student from the class
In the very rare event that a student is removed from a class for behavioral concerns, a prorated refund will be given.
My policies also extend to the way I treat learners in the classroom. I believe that respect is the foundation of positive educational experiences, so I have the following policies in place to help ensure that my respect for learners is centered in my interactions.
- I will call learners by their preferred name and use their preferred pronouns.
- I will announce methods to get my attention in the case that a learner is having trouble being heard in class. These can include using the “raise hand” button, sending me a private message, or creating alternative ways for a learner to participate that works best for them.
- I will do my best to accommodate requests for alterations that help make materials accessible.
- I will be available for questions outside of class and answer those questions in a timely manner (generally within 24 hours).
- I will give feedback in a constructive way that respects the efforts learners have made.
- I will be understanding of learner differences and individual personalities and be as flexible as possible as I strike a balance between keeping the class productive for everyone and allowing room for everyone’s individual needs.
It is important to me that learners feel safe and supported in the classroom. It is also important that I have the ability to document and investigate any safety concerns. I record live sessions and store them for a period of 12 months. I do not share these recorded sessions publicly or with other learners in the class (any make-up sessions will include a video summary without learner participation to protect learner privacy).
I may share recordings with individuals (such as parents/guardians of involved participants) involved in the discussion of any classroom incident if necessary for a safety issue or a third-party (such as a charter school) as required by their safety protocols.
Get in touch with Sydney