Episode 187: Misconceptions About Teaching Students Who Struggle With Math

Jun 27, 2022 | Podcast | 1 comment



Do you have students who struggle with math in your classroom? How can we get them to take the earbuds out and actually put in effort in our classes? On today’s episode we talk to Juliana Tapper from CollaboratEd and cover misconceptions about teaching students who struggle with math plus get some actionable tips about how to get these students more engaged. 

Juliana taught Algebra 1 and Math Intervention at high schools in South Central Los Angeles, East San Jose, and Denver – and had a 3 years stint as a district math coach and TOSA – before leaving the classroom in 2018 to provide PD for schools and districts that teachers actually can’t wait to implement.

You’ll Learn

  • Why spending time on classroom culture and community ISN’T a waste of time;
  • Why grading practices have a great impact on outcomes for struggling learners than you may realize; and,
  • Actionable tips about how to get students who struggle engaged.


Free guide – 10 math intervention strategies: https://www.collaboratedwithjuliana.com/mathguide 

Blog: https://www.collaboratedconsulting.org/blog

Rethinking math assessment workshop: https://www.collaboratedwithjuliana.com/rma 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/collaborated.with.juliana/ 

Workshops: https://www.collaboratedconsulting.org/workshops 

Are you a district mathematics leader interested in crafting a mathematics professional learning plan that will transform your district mathematics program forever? Book a time to chat with our team!

Start your school year off right by downloading the guide that you can save and print to share with colleagues during your next staff meeting, professional learning community meeting or just for your own reference!


Juliana Tapper: This is where my kids are at. They don't know how to do one step equations, so I don't even know what grade level that is, but that's clearly where I need to start to support this student. So I think it is important, as the years stack on, you start to understand how more of the content is connected. But I don't think that should paralyze a new teacher who's maybe stepping into this role. That even if you don't have the years of experience of knowing what happens in all the grade levels before, I think that's okay. I think you can just feel it out with your kids inaudible.

Kyle Pearce: Hey there, Math Moment Makers. How can we get students to take the earbuds out and actually put an effort in our classes? On today's episode, we talk with Juliana Tapper from CollaboratEd and uncover misconceptions about teaching students who struggle with math. Plus, you'll get some actionable tips about how to get these students more engaged in your math class.

Jon Orr: Yeah. I'm excited for this. Juliana taught Algebra 1 and Math Intervention at high schools in South Central Los Angeles, East San Jose, and Denver, and had a three years stint as a district math coach and TOSA, that's teacher on special assignment, before leaving the classroom in 2018 to provide PD for schools and districts that teachers actually can't wait to implement.

Kyle Pearce: All right, my friends, let's hit it.
Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast. I'm Kyle Pearce.

Jon Orr: And I'm John Orr. We are from makingmathmoments.com, and together...

Kyle Pearce: With you, the community of Math Moment Makers worldwide, who want to build and deliver problem-based math lessons, that's our curiosity, fuel...

Jon Orr: Sense making.

Kyle Pearce: And ignite those teacher moves. My friends, today, we are going to be diving into the idea, the role of intervention teacher. How do we help those students who are, I'm going to say, pretty significantly behind where you would like to see them or hope to see them at your current grade level. We've got a great guest here who spent some time in that role and now supports educators in trying to do a great job in a pretty difficult position.

Jon Orr: Yeah. We take a look at some of the actionable items that interventional teachers can do while working with students, but also talk a bit about what classroom teachers can do to support those roles as well. All right, Kyle, let's just jump in it and talk with Juliana.

Kyle Pearce: Here we go. Hey there, Juliana. How are we doing this fine, fine evening as we record here? We want to welcome you for joining us on the Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast. How are things in your world?

Juliana Tapper: Yes, they're great. I'm so excited to be here with all the Math Moment Makers, and you guys. And things are going great in Colorado.

Jon Orr: Excellent. We are excited to chat with you and share all things that you can bring the Make Math Moment Makers here. The make math moment makers, Kyle.

Kyle Pearce: Oh, yes.

Jon Orr: The math inaudible.

Kyle Pearce: I like that, Jon.

Jon Orr: That's good. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Juliana. You just said you're coming from Colorado, but let us know a little bit more details about that. What's your role in education and how did you get there?

Juliana Tapper: Yeah. So currently, I'm an independent math intervention specialist for my own company, CollaborateEd. And I'm hired by schools and districts to come out and work with six through 12th grade math teachers, mainly intervention and special education math teachers. I've always been passionate about the students who struggle. I've also only ever taught high school math intervention. So just working with teachers in a school by school basis to help them increase their math outcomes for their most historically underserved students and students that struggle most with math. And I got into this because I was a math tutor and realized all the kids were struggling with math. And I didn't particularly love math, I'll be honest. I had a tutor that called me stupid. I just really-

Jon Orr: Oh, that's great.

Juliana Tapper: I know, right?

Jon Orr: Yeah.

Juliana Tapper: A really great way to start my math career. But yeah, so I didn't love math to begin with. I wasn't a math major in college, but I fell in love with tutoring these kids in math and really wanting to help them overcome the gatekeeper that is Algebra 1 for so many students that are normally first in their families to go to college or live in historically underserved communities. It's always Algebra 1 that's keeping our students health back. And so I was like, "I need to become a math teacher so I can help solve this problem." So that's what I did. That's why I became a math teacher. And then years later, left the classroom to do what I'm doing now.

Kyle Pearce: Oh, I love it. I want to dive deeper into that. I have so many questions right now. Part of me wants to just throw out the script of what we were going to do now-

Juliana Tapper: Let's do it.

Kyle Pearce: ... because I wanted to dive in. But if we don't, we will break our string of asking our guests, so we will ask this question first. We have to learn a little bit about your math moment. You referenced your experience being tutored. I don't know, is that part of that math moment? Do you have a better one? Or do you have maybe other ones that maybe almost made you feel like, hey, I want to do this work so I can ship this thinking. What is your math moment that you remember as a student?

Juliana Tapper: Yeah. As a student, my math moment is feeling embarrassed in seventh grade math. I remember my mom, my parents both have advanced degrees. I grew up, not going to lie, in a very privileged background. And my parents fought to get me into the honors classes in middle school. And so in seventh grade, I think it was, I went into honors Algebra 1 and there was one step equations on the board, X plus three equals 10. And I had no clue what to do. And I'm just sitting there looking around knowing that everyone else seems to know what to do. And I'm on my calculator hitting times plus three.

Jon Orr: Oh, nice.

Kyle Pearce: Love it.

Jon Orr: Intuitive. I like that.

Juliana Tapper: Never seen a variable before.

Jon Orr: Yeah.

Juliana Tapper: So here I am not really sure what to do. And that's when my parents hired the tutor that called me stupid, so it just continued to go downhill from there. But I would say, unfortunately, that is my math moment.

Jon Orr: Yeah. I think we all have these moments stick with us for reasons. They stick with us because they stand out. They've had an impact on where we've gone or what we've done. And I'm wondering right now, that math moment has stuck with you all of these years. And how do you think that that moment itself has impacted your future in math, but also how you've taught math going into this role?

Juliana Tapper: Yes. Oh, my gosh. Such a great question. I feel like it impacted me desiring to become a math teacher because I didn't really ever feel like I was great at math or good at math, but I knew that I wanted to go to college. And so I knew that I had to make sense of it and had to figure out how to at least just pass so that I could go to college. And then in college, how to get far enough so that I could graduate from college. And so that's really positive, but then I realized that a lot of students, here I am coming from this privileged background where my parents could afford to get me a tutor. They got me a college tutor.
And then I'm thinking about these kids that don't have those sort of means, and they don't have extra tutors and they certainly don't have a college tutor that their parents are paying for. How are they supposed to get to college? How are they supposed to overcome these things without that additional support when my parents with advanced degrees needed that? And it just felt so unfair and inequitable to me. And so even though I was totally a product of that privilege, realized that I wanted to do something to help make that better.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. And we were going to ask you why you are passionate about helping students who struggle with math. And I think you've already painted us a pretty clear picture of that. And first off, I want to say thank you for being so committed and recognizing that, because I think it's very easy for people who don't... you had struggles, but like you said, you had support and you made it through. And it can be really easy to miss that and not realize that other people don't have that same opportunity. They don't have that same privilege that you've referenced.
So I think obviously you're very self aware about that, and I think that's really important and likely why you enjoy doing the work you do. So I'm wondering, it's almost like what was coming to mind as you are introducing this role that you've been doing in the school when you were in schools doing this. And now that you're working with districts, I'm wondering, what does that look like and sound like? Maybe even paint us a picture. Maybe what did it look like and sound like? Maybe when, I'm guessing here, but sometimes when you try something in a school, it doesn't always work great. And then what are you doing now, if maybe it wasn't working so great, what are you doing now? And does it have traction? Are you seeing growth? What does that look like and sound like for those who... I know in our schools, in my district, we don't have an interventionist teacher.
We have support teachers, but they're not math intervention teachers, if that makes sense. So they might be there to, "You can come to my room and you can work." But I don't know how helpful that is if it's not someone who isn't trained in helping a student who's struggling with math concepts. I feel like it's like, you're just spinning the tires deeper and deeper into the mud. So that's a lot there. Paint us a little bit of a picture. What did it look like? What does it look like? What's working for you? And I'm just really curious.

Juliana Tapper: Do you mean what did it look like for me when I was a teacher or even as my support role?

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. I'm curious if you were to like take us to when you first started doing this role. And the reason I'm asking, I'm just guessing, we didn't talk about this ahead of time for those who are listening, but I'm just guessing it probably wasn't amazing the first time you did it. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you just out of the box where like, "I got this." But I know that a lot of people try this role and oftentimes get very frustrated when they're struggling to see growth. So I'm kind of curious if you can kind of like, did that happen for you? Was it great all the way through? Let us know how that's going.

Juliana Tapper: Yeah. I think it's still a bit of a struggle. And with some teachers that I support, it really clicks and we really vibe and they love what I have to say and implement what I have to say, and it's wonderful. And then for other teachers, sometimes they're a little more hesitant to take advice from me or to try some of the things that I'm encouraging them to try. And so I feel like kind of early on leaving the classroom. The first time I left the classroom, I was working as a district level math coach and teacher on special assignment. And I was fortunate to really begin that career working with special ed math teachers. They were all the teachers that were teaching our special day class, special education just math. And they were not math teachers. They were all multiple subject teachers being asked to teach math.
And they were just beyond the moon appreciative for someone paying attention to them and helping them to learn how to teach math better. And so I actually had a really positive first experience of stepping out of the classroom to help train teachers in working with special ed teachers. They were far more open to ideas than some gen ed math teachers. And I think now just really finding... I've created a lot of more on demand workshops with the pandemic and I had a baby at the start of the pandemic. And so just this desire to be more virtual, teachers are finding me more and seeing what I'm about and they are automatically bought in because they're looking for help. And so that's been really helpful too. I don't know if that totally answers the question.

Jon Orr: I think it helps people paint a picture of what you're working on and where that journey for you and that your current role is. And I know that we want to dive in a little bit more about the student side of things too. And I think maybe before we get into say what that looks like for students, just imagining teachers listening to this going, "I've got the teachers who do this kind of thing," or, "I want my students to get help, but how do I do that? How do I get them the help?" I might not have access to an interventional teacher. Like Kyle said, our districts have resource teachers. So it's kind of like, I want to get to what that looks like for the student side of things. But before we do that, maybe it's a good place to say, what do you believe are to misconceptions about teaching students who already struggle with math? And then from there, we might be able to dig a little deeper on what it looks like to help students who are struggling.

Juliana Tapper: Yeah, absolutely. And I want to say that this intervention role is the biggest confusion of our lifetime. No one knows what to do with it. They're like, "Yes, we need a math interventionist," and then no one knows what to do with it. So that is-

Kyle Pearce: They're like, "Out of the bag, everybody's going to be great at it."

Juliana Tapper: Yeah.

Jon Orr: They got it.

Juliana Tapper: No curriculum, do what you want with it, which kind of sounds great, but then you get to it and you're like, "What am I actually going to do with the kids every day?" And I've seen the whole gamut. I've worked at three different high schools as a teacher, and I've seen all sorts of different models. So no one has this figured out, let me just say that. But I think a lot of the misconceptions, I think one of the biggest one is that teachers don't feel it's worth the time to build intentional classroom culture and community, a lot of teachers. And as math teachers, we have a lot to get through.
And especially now, and I'm using air quotes, the learning loss and the learning gaps and all of that. We feel a lot of pressure to get through math content so that they're prepared for the next level, because math builds on each other, math courses build on each other. But I think that is a big misconception. I think that we need to be pausing at the start of every unit and just doing a little bit to address some intentional classroom community building so that all of our students are really feeling involved and welcome in our classrooms.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. Absolutely. And I think that's just it. I think a lot of times it's like, we have the right goals when it comes from a district perspective. It's like, we need someone to help these students. All right. We're going to hire someone to help these students. Oftentimes, it ends up being an eager, outgoing, happy, supportive, whatever teacher that's had success in the classroom doing this one thing over here, which is tier one instruction. And then they come over here and they're sort of going like, "Oh, I just thought all they needed was for me to just do that again maybe slower and louder." And in reality, I mean, it's not a research proven strategy to just talk slower and louder, but yet we often do that. So I'm wondering now, knowing what having this experience in that role, what does that look like and sound like for you? And I guess, what are you advocating for others to do when you're supporting districts in doing this work?

Juliana Tapper: Yes. I think that it really comes down to a school by school basis, to be honest. I wish I had a better answer, but I think I'm still very much forming that answer in my own practice and don't have that figured out. I think a lot of schools have different constraints about they only have one math period or we need to have them in two math periods and they need to be doing different things. And it all comes down to credits and all sorts of stuff like that, especially at the high school level. And so I think it's a really individual approach, to be honest, about what an intervention class or an interventionist should do. Some people are pushing in. Some people are pulling out. Some people have their own full roster where these are the 25 kids that come to your class every day.
And it's so different for everyone. And I think the best practice in all of those scenarios is always giving your kids access to grade level content. I'm a big proponent of making sure, just because you're teaching ninth graders Algebra 1 that, yeah, I understand they are at a fifth grade level. I understand that they cannot add and subtract or multiply negative and positive integers. I totally get it, but that doesn't mean that I just go back and I teach them fifth grade curriculum. It means that I continue to have high expectations of them and I still teach Algebra 1, but I know that I'm going to have to scaffold a whole bunch. I know that I'm going to have a whole bunch of gaps that I need to fill in. And that is the art that I like to help teachers with in our professional development sessions is, how do I take Algebra 1 and teach it to a student who is at a fifth grade level?
And I wish there could be just one intervention, magic intervention curriculum, but the more that I'm doing this work, the more that I feel, and this is my opinion, there is never going to be a magic intervention curriculum. We need to empower teachers with the pedagogy and the strategies to know how to adjust their practices for their students that they have that year, because our intervention students, they're going to be all over the place with what they're coming to us with each year. So I'm just feeling like I don't think there is a magic intervention curriculum. I think it's empowering the teachers with strategies.

Jon Orr: So are you recommending... I'm imagining you've got the intervention teacher who's in a separate room and you've got the classroom teacher who's doing what you're suggesting right now. So I guess you recommend there should be strategies on both sides of things where we should recommend sound pedagogical strategies in our classrooms, but what does the intervention teacher do with our students? How do you see that? What does it look like for the student working? Is that a one on one? That's what I'm imagining with our resource teachers who are working in the classrooms. Are there strategies, are there activities that you've seen success with in those roles? Or what does that interaction look like with a kid?

Juliana Tapper: Yeah, if it's a one-on-one situation.

Jon Orr: Sure.

Juliana Tapper: I think if you have the luxury of an interventionist being able to work one-on-one with a kid, I think just really going through, listening to how the student is really thinking through the math problems instead of just passing out a worksheet. I know you guys are talking so much about worksheets right now and I'm loving it, but instead of just passing out a worksheet as an interventionist, really asking the student to explain how they're doing the problem step by step. Making sure that the understanding's going a little deeper than just the rote memorization and recall. And I also think doing activities, I know you guys talk about notice and wonder a lot. I'm a big fan of notice and wonder. I'm a big fan of which one doesn't belong and same and different.
I think those are powerful in an interventionist setting as well. And having the student be able to voice all these things that they notice and which one of these doesn't belong in there and have someone to give them that immediate validation, because our students struggle. I mean, this kind of goes back to the classroom culture bit. They just don't feel comfortable in math classes because they have trauma. They have math anxiety. It's a scientific fact. I was reading an interesting research paper out of Stanford with Joe Bowler that the fear center in our brains are activated when we see snakes the same as when we see math for some kids with math anxiety. That same fear center lights up. And so we have to build that classroom culture. And so if a student can be with a interventionist one on one and be getting really positive, wow, great idea, great thinking, that's going to do so much for that kid's mathematical confidence.

Kyle Pearce: Absolutely. And when you talk about snakes, I mean, that to me, I literally yesterday was running and there was a snake on the road and I jumped so high. And I'm just picturing in my mind, imagine if that's how you felt in a math classroom. You're not maybe seeing students jump like that, but feeling the way sort of like that feeling of an anxiety is just really sad to me. But I'm wondering here now, so I'm picturing people listening. We're always trying to think of our Math Moment Maker community, because there might even be someone who's like, it's near the end of the school year. They might maybe starting this position next year. They went for an interview, they got the position to be an intervention teacher in a school, and they're probably listening in going like, "Okay, this is really helpful."
I'm wondering, I have an opinion about this, but I'm curious about yours. How important do you believe that, you had mentioned strategies and pedagogy, but what immediately popped into my mind is understanding, the understanding of math content knowledge. Having a deep understanding of how it develops and how it connects in terms of... and then I guess my wonder is, when you sit down with a student, what might that look like or sound like? You had mentioned a student who's in, I don't know if it was in Algebra 1 example where they're working in fifth grade level, but you had mentioned a student who's working at fifth grade level. What do you do to start? And then I guess, how does content knowledge actually influence, or does it influence for you, sort of like what those next steps are? Because you had already referenced there's no one size fits all curriculum where you're just like, "Okay. Oh, it's Tom? Okay. Here's the page we're going to start on." What does that look like to start with a student for you?

Juliana Tapper: Yeah. I think that's a great question. And I think it really goes back to have a grade level resource, whether that's your textbook or whatever it is that everyone's going to use for that grade level. Or you need to find something on your own. Work from there and maybe do a little bit of a casual non-graded pre-assessment and just see where your kids are at. Can they solve one step equations? Give them one, one step. No, we don't need to do ten one step equations. Give them one, one step equation, give them one, two step equation. Let's see where they're at, because sometimes they do know how to do it and they just didn't get along well with the teacher the year before or whatever, and so they just failed. But I think really understanding where the kids are at. If you're teaching the solving equations unit for grade level, assess some prior knowledge and see kind of what's going on.
Because even when I got thrown into teaching math intervention in ninth grade, I hadn't taught fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth grade before that, so I didn't know what came before that. I just know, okay, this is what I'm supposed to teach. Okay. This is where my kids are at. They don't know how to do one step equations, so I don't even know what grade level that is, but that's clearly where I need to start to support this student. So I don't know. I think it is important as the years stack on, you start to understand how more of the content is connected, but I don't think that should paralyze a new teacher who's maybe stepping into this role. That even if you don't have the years of experience of knowing what happens in all the grade levels before, I think that's okay. I think you can just feel it out with your kids. Like, okay, they don't know how to do one step equations. This is where we start.

Jon Orr: Right, right. I think we should definitely be understanding who we have in front of you. And I think that's one of the biggest lessons I've learned along the way is understanding the human beings that are with us on where they are on their learning journey. What are the things that have prevented them along the way? But I do believe that understanding the pre-curriculum, the after curriculum, we've talked about that here on the podcast many times on thinking about it's so important to know what kids are coming in with or what they could be coming in with. And knowing that progression along the way so that you can see where they are and then pick them up where they are and then keep them going on that progression. So big advocate for understanding all of the different grade levels leading up to your grade level and afterwards. I'm wondering about teachers who are listening right now going, "Okay, I'm a classroom teacher now. And what are some actionable tips I could use from you that can help combat some of those misconceptions you stated earlier?"

Juliana Tapper: Yeah. I think number one is build an intentional community. And my favorite activity with that is to just ask students, this could be a great first homework assignment of the year, is what has math been like for you? What is your earliest math memory? And take me all the way from kindergarten until now. And what has been positive and what has been not so positive? So that they just have a chance to really feel known and heard by you that you. That if they have had a hard time in math, they're able to share that with you. And they now know that you know that they have a hard time with math. And I think that just helps let down some of the stuff that they're holding up and hiding behind in your classroom.
I think using activities that invite participation and have multiple correct answers like notice and wonder, like which one doesn't belong, like same and different. Those are my favorite things to use. I call them quick math wins. And they're just, I feel like we should be starting every class with that. With something that doesn't just have one correct answer, so that our kids who are unsure about how to participate, that they feel like they have an immediate in and they can have success with something because there are so many answers and it's really about how you're justifying your reasoning. And so I love something like that. I also, maybe this might be unpopular, but I think another great tip for teachers is please let them use a calculator. A lot of our students, especially if they have IEPs or 504 plans, it's written in that they're going to be able to use calculators on their state assessment here in the US.
And so let them practice with it. And if they aren't allowed to use calculators on their state exam, teach them how to make a multiplication table. That's the first thing you do when you get a standardized test. You flip your test over and you make a multiplication table and you use that to help you, because I think that's a big, yes, my students don't know how to multiply. They've never known how to multiply when they come to me at ninth grade. But if I just sit there and show them multiplication problems for the whole year, for the first three months until everyone has mastered multiplication, they're going to know that I have pretty low expectations of them. And they're going to sync to meet those expectations instead of rising to meet the grade level expectations that I truly do believe they can get to with the help of a calculator sometimes.
So I'm a proponent of the calculator. I know that might be a little heated, but I personally feel calculators are really important. And the more and more that I've been thinking about what motivates our students who are the most challenging to motivate are our assessment practices and our grading practices. And so I'm a big proponent of mastery based grading and kind of a rubric kind of standards based grading approach. I think that that actually really motivates students, and it's what I used in my classroom. And I think that's the missing piece that I think some teachers, and the math moment makers are experienced teachers that love their jobs. That is who listens to this podcast.
And I think they wouldn't be listening to this if they didn't absolutely love their job and want to do better for their kids. And I think perhaps a missing key could be grading and assessment practices. That you could be doing everything else so amazing, but if you're still giving students 15 percents in the grade book, those kids who struggle are never going to give you the sort of motivation and they're never going to put in the sort of effort that you want from them because they know that they can't dig out of that. So they're not going to try.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. The last piece, I'll kind of start from the last part and move backwards in here, because I had a couple thoughts that came to mind with the calculator piece as well that I think is important, but so true about we call it assessing for growth. In our academy, we have an assessment per growth course. And really, I think ultimately at the end of the day is, does that grade reflect what that student knows? And if the answer is no, then it is not appropriate. And it's a lie. So if Jon didn't know the answer to something two days ago and I said, "Jon, you don't know that answer." And he tells me and proves to me that he knows that answer or knows that idea or whatever it is that I'm assessing and I'm saying he doesn't because he didn't two days ago, then I'm a liar.
And as a teacher, it took me a very long time to figure that out. I know Jon feels the same way and a lot of educators out there. It's a hard shift, but it's such an important shift. And going back to your calculator piece, I think, again, at the end of the day, it's not out one or the other. Calculators are helpful to check answers. We don't want to handcuff students. But on the other end too, I want to be clear just for the Math Moment Maker community, just so that there's no misinterpretation, I think we can teach high level math, very rigorous math, and we can also model the number sense along the way. Jon and I did a webinar the other night about that where it's like, when you're solving hard problems, don't reach for the calculator.
It's like, that's another chance to now use a model of your choice. Do you want to use the distributive property with the area model? Do you want to use doubling and having, because that makes sense to you in this moment and that can be very helpful to you here? Giving students the opportunity to work with multiplication, so key, and just number sense in general. So don't just give the calculator, because I used to do that. I'm a culprit of that. And I just want to make sure that people don't make the same mistake I did where I was like, "Oh, if you're struggling, just use the calculator, just use the calculator," because they don't get any better in that area. And that's, I think, the piece that we really want them to get better at in the first place. So, awesome points here. I'm wondering, my friend, what big idea or takeaway would you like to leave as a final thought here for the Math Moment Maker community before we say our goodbyes?

Juliana Tapper: Yeah. I think that the big takeaway is the importance of expectations and having high expectations of your students who struggle. And that they really can rise to meet your expectations and be working on grade level math. You don't have to lessen the rigor. You don't have to teach multiple grade levels below. They can get there. And believe in yourself and believe in them right along with you that that can happen, because it really can.

Jon Orr: Good message. And I think we hear far too often that I have low students or I have high students or I have below grade level students or that student is operating at a grade two level. They might be operating at a grade two level in some areas, in some areas not. And I think we have to get away from that language. So that's a great takeaway, I think, for our educators to kind of walk away from this episode with, so thanks very much for that, Juliana. Where can our listeners learn a little bit more about what you are working on?

Juliana Tapper: Yeah. If you're a teacher, I have a free math intervention strategy guide that you can grab collaborated with juliana.com/mathguide. I think it'll be maybe hopefully linked in show notes or something. You can find me.

Jon Orr: Yep. I'll put them all in there.

Juliana Tapper: And then if you're an administrator, I would love to talk to you about supporting your schools and your intervention teachers and your special ed teachers. And you can email me at juliana@collaboratedconsulting.org. And I'm on Instagram. I can't catch into Twitter. I don't know what it is. I am just failing miserably at Twitter, but I'm over on Instagram.

Kyle Pearce: It's hilarious. I'm the opposite. It's like, on Instagram I'm like, I don't know. Some days I open it up and there's all these messages, private messages from people. I'm like, "I'm sorry. I didn't know it was there." So we're having opposite issues. Maybe we can help each other out one day. But, friend, thank you for taking some time to hang out with us in the Math Moment Maker community. Great messages here. And again, just reiterating that with our friends. Remember, students have big brains in those heads. Everyone has a different experience. Let's find ways that we can help meet students where they are. And let's help them flourish in the best way that we know how. So keep doing that great work out there, everybody. And we'll catch you on the flip side. Thank you, Juliana.

Juliana Tapper: Thank you so much.

Kyle Pearce: As always, Math Moment Makers, we learn so much when we get a chance to connect with educators just like Juliana, just like you, when we can just essentially chat about our practice. And today was great to get a perspective of someone who's been in that role. And I don't know about you, Jon, but when I reflect back, really I have only been in a role similar to that for one class in my career so far. I was what we called a student success teacher for one, one semester.

Jon Orr: Wow. And didn't know that.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. I didn't bring it up in the episode, but I will tell you that I felt very, very overwhelmed. It was early in my career, students with all different needs, all different subject areas coming to my space for support. And really, I did not have any real strategies to support them. So hopefully this episode opens that door for some friends who may be in that position or maybe are thinking or considering about taking on a position like that so that you can do great work, because great work can be done. And I don't know about you, Jon, but the big piece for me, I think strategy is important, pedagogy's important, but goodness, we need to understand how math develops. That means I'm going to have to do a lot of the math and I'm going to have to be able to really look at what students are saying, watch what they're doing, listen to what they're saying, and observe in order to really get a sense of, okay, where are students at? What can they do? And let's build on that. So big takeaways for me, big reflection there. How about you?

Jon Orr: Big reflection for me is similar in nature about understanding our kids and where they are. And I think that's one of the most important a classroom teacher, most important things a classroom teacher can do as well as a resource teacher or an interventionalist teacher, is understand where they are on that progression of ideas. And I think we can only do that by watching and listening, like you said, to our kids in action. Hearing their thoughts, hearing that thought process. Seeing their attempts on problems. It's like, where is their thoughts on this idea? If we're in proportions land, where is their thinking? Are they multiplying? Are they adding?
If we're in solving equations land, how are they viewing this? Is it a guess and check kind of strategy? Or are they starting to think about how things are balancing out? So I think it's important to understand where kids are. But in order to do that, like you said, we have to understand the curriculum ourselves, the mathematics ourselves. So biggest takeaway is that reinforcement that's so important moving forward in our roles.
Yeah. And folks, hey, if you want to reach out and chat about this particular episode or any other episodes, don't forget to tag us over at social media or @MakeMathMoments on Twitter and on Instagram and over on Facebook. Our private Facebook group where we can chat is Math Moment Makers K to 12. Check those out, let's connect.

Kyle Pearce: So, friends, we haven't mentioned this in a while and it sounds like we have to start re mentioning it, Jon, because I checked. And recently, we've had less ratings and reviews over on Apple Podcasts. We used to mention that quite a bit and we had a lot roll in and help us out so that we can stay in that top 100 for education here in Canada and some of the different countries around the world. It really helps. Remember, we're over on YouTube. We release the video episode with our guests live. You can see them in the flesh and sort of get into the conversation a little bit deeper over on YouTube. Hit that subscribe button, and you'll also be notified when we release our weekly video, which takes you either through a pedagogical strategy or into some deep math content knowledge. So hopefully we'll see you over on that platform.

Jon Orr: Yeah. And I'll show notes and links to resources from this episode, plus full transcripts from this episode are over on the show notes page, which is at makemathmoments.com/episode187. Again, that's makemathmoments.com/episode187.

Kyle Pearce: All right. Well, until next time, my Math Moment Maker friends, I'm Kyle Pearce.

Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr.

Kyle Pearce: High fives for us...

Jon Orr: And a big high five for you.

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1 Comment

  1. Deanna

    Misconceptions About Teaching Students Who Struggle With Math was a wonderful episode! I have been listening for a few months to the podcast and this one really hit home. I am a special education teacher who will begin teaching pull out math classes in the fall. I have cotaught math for many years, but it has been MANY YEARS since I taught pull out. When I did have pull out I had a curriculum that had been used by special education teachers in the district for years. Now that I am at the high school level I don’t have that. I am to select what is appropriate from the general education curriculum and use other resources as I need. I was happy to hear Julianna Tapper suggest that an intervention specialist should teach the curriculum with high expectations and fill in the gaps/scaffold.
    I hope to hear more from intervention specialist on your podcasts. I definitely will listen and benefit from their experiences.


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