For many women, moving with the husband effectively means an end to a career. Here is my story of finding a new career as a maths enrichment tutor.
My career has involved a lot of moving around. After finishing my schooling, I stayed at home only for the holidays. I studied in BITS, Pilani, Rajasthan, and after my graduation worked in Bangalore and Hyderabad for a year. I got married soon and had to move to Vancouver, Canada to support my husband with his PhD.
Trust me, moving across countries is not always a blessing. My first move to Canada was hard – being a recent graduate with no work experience meant no job prospects! I hated that country and wanted to come back home. After a couple of years, I started my accounting degree and once I got a better job, my life became so much better. I also got used to being away from my country and started loving Canada for all its natural beauty.
Within a couple of years into my new job as an Accountant, my husband completed his PhD and once again it was time to move. I had a baby in the meanwhile too.
This time we moved to the US, and my prospects looked bleak once again. I had a half finished accounting degree and a toddler and once again, a new country to adapt to! But this time I was better prepared because I knew how to keep myself engaged.
Participating in the activities at the local temple helped me make friends. I taught shloka chanting to kids whenever possible, so a lot of moms knew me already. When I mentioned to my friend that I love Math and that I wanted to teach kids that math can be great fun, she asked me if I would coach her daughter for an upcoming competition.
She lived an hour away from me, so I had to do the coaching online. But her daughter and I were so engrossed with the problems that two hours passed by just like that! It was only when my
alarm rang that I realised I need to wind up and pick up my child from daycare. We both loved the classes and even after the competition, we decided to continue working on her Maths skills.
She and her mom spoke to others about how fun the math classes were and some of my other friends asked me to formulate a Math Enrichment plan for their kids as well, based on their grades
Within the first year, I had a lot of success stories, purely through my enrichment activities – even though I did not really get involved in their school work directly. I got a kid to move from Advanced to Honours math level despite her school saying that it would be almost impossible. Two more kids aced their American Mathematical Competition (AMC8).
But it wasn’t all easy.
I did have a steep learning curve. I graduated from an Indian University and did not have much experience with the American system. I had to spent 2-3 hours every day going over books from the library, learning the American syllabus and even understanding the
competitions held there. Soon, I was able to advise the parents on what competitions they should enrol their kids in and how to prepare for them. Of course, given that this was all connected with math, I absolutely loved the research part.
I later upgraded myself on the business side of tutoring as well – how to enforce the rules and how much to charge etc. Apart from upgrading math skills, I also figured out how to make my own website, and keep up with social media. I now have a website, a Facebook business page, and a Pinterest account where I’m active.
After two and a half years in the US, I once again had to move to India. But the good part was that almost all my students decided to continue the Math classes with me. All the parents said was “figure out the time and let me know”.
The challenging part was the time zone difference. I wake up at 4:30am to do 2 classes from 5-6am and 6-7am IST every weekday, so that the kids can meet me after their school. I also have
a couple of kids waking up early in the US which means I do one or two classes during my afternoons.
In a few cases, I also negotiated the timings with my students’ parents’ and we agreed to go back and forward half hour depending on the daylight savings time.
Despite all the time zone challenges, the family commitments still remain the hardest part to manage. While tutoring can give you enormous emotional satisfaction, you are still considered a SAHM. My family used to expect me to adjust my classes according to their current requirements. If they wanted to go out I had to cancel my classes.
This was a big change for me, especially because no one cared what I did until I was in the US. I had to just manage my schedule and my son’s. Adjusting wasn’t easy in the beginning, but I
stood my ground and they eventually realised I wouldn’t budge. They started accepting my schedule as well. They still ask me to cancel every now and then, but it has come down drastically!
I started my tutoring business by doing Math Enrichment and coaching for competitions. But most kids had trouble with their basic school math and that’s where the demand was. But I also knew that if I taught them just what was taught in school, their scope for improvement was very less.
Hence, I would cover the school syllabus within a few minutes and give them more critical thinking questions in every class. I went well beyond what they needed for school.
Combining enrichment with the school syllabus helped my students think independently, and develop a love of maths. They no longer saw math as repetitive and boring. Even when I wasn’t present, some of my students would get together and solve interesting math problems they got!
Every year I get students who want to move ahead in math. They want to get to the advanced/ honours level or skip a year of math. I’m floored that I get students who are dedicated mathematicians! They are the ones who convince their parents to continue the tutoring.
Starting V’s Online Math
Tutoring was the best thing I did for myself and my family. I am a lot happier and confident. I am also able to do a lot of math activities with my 5-year-old son. Doing something for yourself and being happy is the best way you can keep your family happy.
You can also visit my website and my blog at https://www.vsonlinemathtutoring.com/ to learn more about what I do. My Facebook page has a lot of Enrichment questions that I use for my classes.
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I'm an Online Math Tutor with a passion for Math Enrichment. I love trying
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