Meet Your Professor: Kiandra Johnson

Meet Your Professor: Kiandra Johnson
Recruiting students from across the U.S., Campus is the new alternative to online community college. Our online associate degree in business program consists of 100% live, online classes taught by professors who also teach at top-ranked colleges and universities. Read on to learn more about our talented teaching team.

New Orleans native Kiandra Johnson is an accomplished educator, mentor, and the first in her family to attend college. She discovered her passion for math education early on and earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at Xavier University of Louisiana. She then went on to earn a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics from Emory University in Atlanta. She has been a faculty member at Spelman College since 2016, and now also instructs mathematics here at Campus!

Johnson started her teaching career at the high school level in Georgia, though she had aspirations to teach at the college level. She was particularly interested in teaching first- and second-year college students after reflecting on how much she enjoyed tutoring and mentoring classmates in her undergraduate studies.

Why Math?

Professor Kiandra Johnson told us that she has a profound interest in math because she could make connections between mathematical concepts and real word examples.

“What initially sparked my interest in math is how math is related to everything around us, in the world around us,” Johnson told Campus. “You can make some connection to math.”

From a young age, Johnson found that she loved math not only because of its connection to things in everyday life, but also because math played a part in the connection she shared with her family.

“This is actually kind of an interesting story,” Johnson shared. “In my family, I'm the youngest, so my older siblings always poured so much into me. During the summers, they would actually take their algebra stuff that they were learning and they would sit me down and show me when I was in third or fourth grade.”

As her love for math grew, Johnson found that it was a discipline that she grasped and helped others around her gain a better understanding.

“Growing up, I've always been just, you know, kind of good at math and good at explaining it to other people and making it as simple as possible. And I love that I'm able to find so many analogies between just everyday things and math.”

Naturally, when Johnson embarked on her journey in higher education, she found that she enjoyed college-level math courses, too. When we asked her about her favorite class in college, she told us that it was Calculus III.

“When we got to Calculus III, we really started talking about three-dimensional objects. That just meant so much more because we were now talking about what I felt was real life.”

A Lifelong Love for Teaching

At the same time Johnson found her love for math, a love of teaching followed shortly after. As she explained, “because of my love for math, I think I've always known that I would be doing something with math and something with teaching.”

With her innate talent for explaining math concepts and making relatable real-world connections for others to better comprehend those concepts, it was clear to Johnson that she was a teacher from the start.

“I think in every arena of my life, I'm always doing some type of teaching. When I was in elementary school, I always said, ‘Oh, I want to be an elementary school teacher.’ I skipped middle school, so when I got to high school, I wanted to be a high school math teacher. Then when I got to college, I was like, ‘What if I taught college math?’ You know, I thought that would be really cool, and so here I am.”

What’s more, Johnson’s love for teaching is deeply seeded in her passion for helping others reach their potential. While reflecting on the story she’d mentioned about her older siblings sharing their algebra with her, she told us that it was also a moment of realization for her when it came to education in general.

“You know, I recognized that in being able to teach, I could be that big sister or brother to help someone else to be that much better and well-prepared for their next level."

Throughout her experience as both a teacher and a student, Johnson found that she loved learning more about what helps students learn. When asked what her philosophy is for what makes a great teacher, she had this to say:

“What makes a great teacher for me is someone who can reach their students on their level,” Johnson explained. “I always start with making sure my students’ foundations are solid, and then we build upon that foundation. I understand students are coming from so many different places. Some students haven't seen math in forever so they need that time to get back into the groove of things. I think someone who makes a good professor is someone who considers where each student is starting to get to their level, but then bring them to where you want them to be.”

Tackling Math Anxiety and Inspiring Growth

For Johnson, teaching math also comes with its own unique challenges. One of the biggest, she pointed out to us, is students’ perceptions of math based on past experiences with other math courses.

“So many people have math anxiety, and I think a large part of that is from a bad experience they had with a previous math teacher,” Johnson said. “When people say they hate math, I always ask them, ‘When did you start hating it?’ 90% of the time it's because of a bad experience that they had. I think my favorite part of teaching is to help students, number one, remove that math anxiety.”

But removing math anxiety is only the first step in Johnson’s approach to giving her students an enriching educational experience. She uses her understanding of her students’ unique backgrounds in math and how best to reach them as a guide for creating a more inclusive learning environment. Knowing this, Johnson adopted an approach to teaching in her classes that she finds helps students make connections to the material both inside and outside of class.

“I pretty much do the model of ‘I do. We do. You do.’ So I'll do a problem for you. And then we're going to do a problem together. And then I'll give you another problem to do on your own – and maybe do breakout groups and things like that so you can discuss your work with your partner…Giving students an opportunity to do problems in class, I think they really love that.”

Professor Fun Fact: Johnson’s love for teaching goes beyond just mathematics. In her free time, she teaches dance! “I was a Zumba instructor and I absolutely loved it. Being from New Orleans, music and dancing and food are just such a large part of our culture that I love all opportunities to dance. Even now, I am making every effort to give back to my love of dance, and I'll see where that takes me.”

The Smart Way to Launch Your College Career

The accredited, Campus online associate degree in business program helps students knock out the first two years of college and supports them as they prepare for life after graduation.

Want to attend classes led by mission-driven educators like Kiandra Johnson? Request more information about potentially joining the next trailblazing cohort of the Campus program today.

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