Math success: believe you can achieve with Okera Hawkins

Math success: believe you can achieve with Okera Hawkins

Student Success Podcast No. 9, Nov. 29, 2013

Today’s Guest: Okera Hawkins

Co-founder of The A+ Club, Okera Hawkins, discusses what it takes to succeed in high school math. If there’ any single thing, Okera tells us, it is “confidence.” Getting there is a process — but it is a process that every student can engage and master. But they have to want to. Okera leads us through the pieces of success in math, including organization, asking questions, and math literacy.  Please enjoy this excellent and important interview.

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Guest Biography

Okera Hawkins is an award winning teacher, math expert and school administrator. Okera has worked on national math standards as well as to have built an entire math curriculum and program at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, DC.

Topics Discussed

  • Student who did 3-1/2 hours of calclus work on a Friday night with our tutor Alexis
    • congratulations
    • will only be meaningful if he keeps it up and connects it week to week
  • How to improve in math:
    • identifying needs
    • advocating for yourself
    • especially in high school and getting ready for college
    • when he was studying math in college, Okera made sure his teachers knew who he was
    • ask questions
    • put the time and energy into it
    • self advocacy
  • How to address an underperformer
  • kids who struggle in math, tend to have
    • organization issues
    • need to identify resources
    • need to identify skill needs
  • Students self-create their issues
    • notebook not working
    • coping mechanism to justify why not doing somehing
    • easier to make excuses
  • Slowing down
    • math is process
    • A+ Club works because:
    • helps get the organizational piece down
    • then can focus on other needs
    • helps students remove bad habits
  • Tutoring can = enabling bad habits
    • kids use tutor to get away from class or homework
    • “I’ll just ask my tutor”
    • tutor doing the work for the kids
    • not trying becoming its own excuse
  • Experiencing success = key to starting success
  • Transformation happens when students decides that failure is not an option
    • will do what it takes to be successful
    • then it transfers to other classes
    • when have to stay with it
    • the process of improvement
  • Apply prior knowledge
    • idefnity what is lacking and build it
    • math as a process
    • building on previous concepts
    • thinking mathematically
  • Succeeding in math:
    • math happens once a day in math class
    • know the vocabluary
    • key words, symbols .. where do they lead me?
    • then connect it to the skills I’m learning
    • skills learned in a vacuum don’t get connected to
    • math is concrete
  • Need to be confident
  • Reach for help
  • Keep the process ongoing
  • Final word:  “Confidence” >> havce to believe you can achieve


  • t.b.a.


Host: Michael L. Bromley
Original Music by Christopher Bromley (copyright 2011, 2013)
Background snoring: by Stella
Best Dogs Ever: by Puck & Stella

Puck and Stella delivering 50 lbs of food donated by the Georgetown Cavailers meetup group
Puck and Stella delivering 50 lbs of food donated by the Georgetown Cavailers meetup group



Here for Puck & Stella slideshow