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She used to hate math, but now she teaches it for a living

She used to hate math, but now she teaches it for a living

Like so many school-aged children, Saundra Carter hated math growing up. The subject just wasn’t applicable to her life, so she didn’t see the point in becoming a master at it. Fortunately for her, that all changed when she entered 11th grade and was placed in Mr. Frank’s Algebra 2 class.

Carter’s outlook on the world of mathematics changed because her teacher did was so many teachers before him never did: made math matter in Saundra’s day-to-day life. He used real-world situations that 15-year-old children would actually encounter in their time outside of school, rather than hypothetical situations that no real human has ever found themselves in. Using “real-world examples and things kids like “such as sports,” Saundra says, Mr. Frank was able to change her perspective on the subject completely.

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Now, Saundra owns a tutoring business called Math 1 on 1 LLC. The premise is simple: Pass on the excitement for math Saundra had passed on to her that fateful year in high school. In doing so, you’ll help unleash the mathematical wizard hidden in even the most reluctant students.

The Atlanta-based business consists of college students and recent graduates who help tutor children and adults of all ages in the various stages of mathematics. Each student is provided with a two-hour screening process which helps tutors identify strengths and weaknesses pertaining to their mathematical ability. Through careful analysis of a student’s initial performance, an individualized learning plan is created, putting each student on their own path to success. Saundra reports that students’ SAT scores in math increase an average of 50 points after their tutoring sessions are complete.

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Saundra is the author of How to Help Parents and Kids Get Over the Fear of Math, a book with tips for parents and kids who want to get over their fear of math (sorry, I had to!). In all seriousness, the book has gained rave reviews on Amazon, with parents and children alike praising Saundra’s hints and tips that “make the process of learning math easier.” Adults that read it in order to better help their children actually reported that they learned more about a few concepts they thought they had previously mastered. One reader said, “I learned a few new things and refreshed knowledge that has long been dormant.”

Along with helping struggling students through Math 1 on 1 LLC, Saundra also hopes to tackle some of the stigmas surrounding the world of mathematics, like the idea that girls aren’t good at math

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If a girl isn’t good at math, it’s most likely because she was told she isn’t good at math. While it’s no secret that men make up the majority of people working in math-related industries, this is simply because young women are dissuaded from becoming math wizards at the elementary level. A combination of factors affect girls’ interest (or lack thereof) in the world of mathematics, such as the fact that math-related toys and games are usually advertised to boys. Parents and teachers should ensure they don’t unintentionally place gender biases on their children, and give them a choice of what, and how, they want to study.

Some people just “aren’t math people”. This statement piggybacks off of the last point made. So many children (and adults, for that matter) just throw their hands up and say, “I can’t do this.” Of course, nothing can be accomplished with such a negative attitude. Again, this idea of being incompetent in a specific subject or area stems from experiences in childhood in which a teacher may not have given a child enough time or attention to help them understand a certain concept, which led to them falling behind for the remainder of the year. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, in which children who are told they aren’t good at math don’t try to get better, and grow into adults who really aren’t good at it.

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By sharing her story with the world, Saundra aims to eradicate these two misconceptions, and foster a love of math in all children in the Atlanta area and beyond.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm3.staticflickr.com

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Published on September 18, 2018

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

1. Show your appreciation

In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

2. Communicate effectively

Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

3. Be open to dialogue

Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

4. Provide constructive criticism

Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

5. Conduct one-on-ones

Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

6. Build training programs

In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

7. Offer growth opportunities

Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

8. Reward them

Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

9. Encourage team outings

Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

10. Involve them

Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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11. Set meaningful goals

In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

12. Empower them

You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

13. Deal with conflict

A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

14. Implement a flexible work culture

Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

15. Host engaging activities

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

16. Maintain a positive work space

Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

17. Avoid discrimination

Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

The bottom line

Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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