Episode #188: Hold Off On Grabbing The Wheel – A Coaching Moment
In this episode, we’re excited to bring back two of our past educator guests for a discussion about supporting teachers through instructional coaching. We spoke with Jess Michalchuk back in Episode 169 on the topic of Building Math Moment Makers and we spoke with Lana Steiner in Episode 143 on How To Effectively Capture Observations and Conversations; two very highly regarded episodes!
Today we get insight from both Jess and Lana on best practices on building trust, empathy, and positive mindsets when educators and coaches collaborate together to Make Math Moments with their students everyday.
- Tips for how to be the guide instead of grabbing the wheel in a coaching relationship;
- How empathy is a necessary skill not only for teachers, but for coaches;
- Why having the right coaching intentions in mind is necessary for a productive mentor/mentee relationship; and,
- What you might consider if you’ve been hesitant to reach out to an instructional coach in your district.
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!
Lara Steiner: You want to help. I think having the right intention of just trying to help the teacher and help the kids. One thing I've always wondered about when teachers perceive coaches is they should perceive the coaches as a resource. This is someone I can turn to help me solve this problem. And sometimes coaches aren't perceived that way in society.
Kyle Pearce: Hey. Hey, there math moment makers. In this episode, we're excited to bring back two of our former guests on the podcast. And actually Jon, they weren't on together last time. They were on separate episodes and now, yes, now they're back and they are together to discuss how supporting teachers through instructional coaching can have an impact on teacher practice. That's right. We are bringing back Jess Michalchuk back from episode 169. That episode had the topic of building math moment makers. And we also spoke with Lara Steiner back on episode 143. And that episode was all about how to effectively capture observations and conversations. Two pretty awesome and well received episodes.
Jon Orr: Today. We get insights from both Jess and Lara on best practices on building trust, empathy, and positive mindsets when educators and coaches collaborate together to make math moments with their students every day.
Kyle Pearce: Here we go. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I'm Kyle Pearce.
Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr. We are two math teachers from makemathmoments.com who together...
Kyle Pearce: With you, the math moment maker.
Jon Orr: Just let it roll. Let it roll.
Kyle Pearce: With you the community...
Jon Orr: That's a blooper. Keep it in.
Kyle Pearce: ... with you, the community of math moment makers worldwide who want to build and deliver math lessons that spark curiosity.
Jon Orr: Fuel sense making
Kyle Pearce: And ignite your teacher moves. Welcome my friends to another math mentoring moment episode. It's actually a bit of like a bring back for more math moments episode. And in our intro there, you may have caught that. Yeah, we do re-record the intro every single time and we still can't seem to get it right after 188 episodes.
Jon Orr: We've sent that intro Kyle 188 times and Ali, our glorious editor always edits our bloopers open. I think he's going to keep that one in Kyle. In this episode, we talked with Jess and Lara all about coaching and the dynamic between a coach and a mentee, and what that's like. And they talk about best practices for us to think about working with coaches and how that works. And some of those insights that I think can help people nudge them in the right direction. She would get coaches, because I know Kyle that many districts have coaches and a lot of the time it's not forced to work with a coach for good reason, but it also has teachers hesitant to work with coaches. So we talk about that and how to get people to kind of nudge their way, getting closer to getting the support they need.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah. I love it. And as you'll hear, it's kind of nice because we get sort of both sides of the story. We get an educator who reached out to the coach and had some ideas in mind. And one thing I really liked about this and hopefully we didn't explicitly address it, but hopefully you'll hear it throughout this episode is that just had an idea in mind of what he wanted to do. And that's always a great idea. Of course, if you're just looking for some new ideas and you just want to experiment, that's great too. But if you have something it's like, we always talk about that pebble kicking around in your shoe. It's like, what's that pebble?
And maybe focusing in on that and inviting a coach in to say like, "Hey, this is the thing that I'm really working on." And then together, those two minds can work together. And again, as Lara describes in this episode, she sort of helps to kind of follow that path and not sort of take the wheel from the mentee in this particular case, Jess. So really excited to dive into this episode here with you today. So let's not waste any time. Here we go with our conversation with Lara and Jess.
Jon Orr: Hey there, Lana and Jess. Welcome back to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. This must be a special episode because I don't think, Kyle, we've had two returning guests on at the exact same time. This is pretty awesome. How have you guys been.
Lara Steiner: Good. It's like it's June. I don't even know. It feels very surreal. June always feels kind of surreal.
Kyle Pearce: I bet. How about Jess? It's not just June, there's something going on today. I can't remember what it is, but maybe you can let us all know.
Jess Michalchuk: Well, today is my 40th birthday.
Kyle Pearce: Hey!
Jon Orr: That's a big one too.
Jess Michalchuk: So you can imagine. It's very exciting for me to do this. And then as a birthday present, as a 40-year-old, I'm very excited. I can't even imagine being 20 and telling everyone, "Yeah. Today, I'm recording a math podcast." I told everyone in the school today. They always ask, "What are you doing?" And I said, "You'll never believe it. I'm doing something I really enjoy."
Kyle Pearce: That's awesome. It sounds like when somebody asks me like, "What are you going to do this weekend?" I'm like, "I don't know. I was thinking about maybe getting up early and writing a math task." That's my really fun, getting in my fun space. So before we dive in here today, this is a pretty unique episode because we're actually bringing on not only returning guests who came on individually, but we're also going to introduce a bit of a coaching dynamic here, which I think is a fantastic idea to share with the audience because we have so many educators, we're all educators, but teachers who are in the classroom. And then we also have those who are mentoring teachers, working with teachers and learning together.
So we're going to have kind of that dynamic going on here. But before we do dive in, let's first just quickly remind everyone who may not remember or listening to some of the previous episodes. So for Lara, for example, on episode 143, you are helping us with capturing observations and conversations in math class. And Jess was on in episode 169, about how you can create a math moment maker. Let's start with Lara. Give them a quick little rundown. Where are you coming from? And who are you as a math educator?
Lara Steiner: So right now I'm working as a math coach and I'm out of Horizon School Division, which is based in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. I have a masters in math education from Western University and that's pretty much where I'm at right now.
Jon Orr: Awesome stuff. Thanks Lara, for that. Jess and hey, let our listeners know a little bit about you and where you're coming from.
Jess Michalchuk: Well, I'm living and teaching in Fulmike Saskatchewan. Same division, Horizon School Division. And the last episode I was on, I got to interview you two, learn some great stuff. And that disclaimer is one of my highest marks. I think I got a 97 in that assignment. So thank you.
Jon Orr: Where's that 3%.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, it was probably one of those things. We talk about assessment and evaluation a lot on the podcast and the only feedback they can give is, well. I just can't give you a hundred, right? Jess, that's sort of the descriptive feedback that you probably received. That's awesome. And how awesome, because we were being interviewed by you. So you did all the heavy lifting, which is pretty awesome on that episode. Today, we're going to be diving in and trying to get into the coaching dynamic. And as I already mentioned, we have so many people in different roles. We have many listening that are in leadership roles. We have those go getter teachers out there. We have a lot of new teachers out there and we thought this would be such a cool idea. And I must say it was your ideas that you brought it forward and said, "Hey, what a cool idea to sort of get this dynamic out for people to hear."
Because I'll be honest and I'll say when I first started teaching, there was a coach. I can't remember the name of the coach at the time, Jon, they were probably named something different in your district depending on the funding. But I was sort of not really eager to dive in there. Probably maybe more self-conscious, not wanting to be judged. Maybe not knowing what it's all about. So hopefully we'll be able to help some people with that. And there might be even some vet teachers out there who have maybe sort of kept the door sort of closed to this opportunity. So I'm really excited to dive in. So first off, it's a good idea for us to set the stage and sort of let the audience know. We're going to ask both of you to kind of describe who you see yourself as in your role. So let's start first with Jess. How would you describe yourself as a teacher?
Jess Michalchuk: Well, definitely evolving over the last few years. It just kind of, the more yourself just seems like the better that you can be and do things that you're passionate about and you can do well at. And that's kind of what I started looking at. I wouldn't say necessarily bored in the classroom, but just because it seemed like you're repeating so many things and I wasn't really learning on my side, I started to branch out. And so within my classroom, teaching math and science and middle years in high school, there was a lot of opportunity to really dive deeper into the curriculum, I guess, rather than just kind of hitting surface level and kind of going through each unit and kind of what you guys do. I am very curious about learning stuff and that drives my learning. And now that I'm trying to find that curiosity or spark curiosity in the kids, you can see the engagement kind of start to... levels are starting to go up and just more enjoyable for me and the kids.
Jon Orr: Gotcha. Jess, how did you say get involved in coaching with Lara? Can you fill us in on a little story behind that and then we'll pivot over to Lara to get her take on things?
Jess Michalchuk: Well, I guess math would be that one was my starting point. And so when our division announced they had a math coach, it was just kind of like, well I got to reach out and see what kind of works going to happen. Because previously they had literacy coaches and they were doing lots of work with improving reading and writing. And then now with the math thing, and that's what I was needing. I was needing help. So it was kind of that point's like, I need someone who's doing things that I would like to do and Lara not fit the mold perfectly. So it turned out great.
Jon Orr: Awesome. Jess, I just wanted to ask you one more question. When you said you need help. I know lots of teachers are listening right now and they're wondering maybe that it's like, do I need help? What lit a fire under you to say, "Look, I need help." what was happening there to say, "Hey, I need some help. Let me reach out to Lara."
Jess Michalchuk: I watched the video today, Ken Robinson and I feel like this kind of describes my moment. So when you're looking for support for anything... So at that time I was trying teach math a different way. I hadn't experienced it. I hadn't seen it anywhere and I kind of read things and there, so you go the theory but to put it into practice. I just wasn't sure how to do that. And in that video was described like that. So if someone needs support, say you're just learning how to teach the language French, you need someone to help you get there. You can't just be like, "Hey, I'm just going to teach math differently." So that was that point where it was like, okay. I do need a support network here and get some help. From where I went to, where I'm now, is a pretty big jump and I probably would be where I am today if I didn't have the support and help.
Kyle Pearce: I love it. And that's fantastic. I'm glad you asked that, Jon. I think we were both about to ask a pretty similar question there because I'm always interested in getting sort of to the bottom of... I feel like as educators, we believe when we come out of our pre-service that we got this diploma, this degree, these things, these accolades, whatever. And now we're in the classroom, it's my class. They gave me the keys to this thing and this is mine to take care of. And I think oftentimes we as educators sort of feel as though asking for that support or seeking that help is a sign of weakness and not just in education. I think in a lot of places in life. It can be tough to ask for help. So that sort of gives me a nice vision of sort of where you were at.
And I'm going to maybe go on a limb and say that you were probably doing some pretty cool things because it sounds like you were thinking that you wanted to do something different. You wanted to do it better. And you knew that you couldn't just sort of pick anything. You wanted to have a little bit more support there. So I love that. I really appreciate that. You gave us a little bit of that insight. So I want to flip it over to Lara. And I want to ask about you and your role. You're obviously an educator who transitioned into this role of providing whether you want to call it coaching, mentorship, support, just a knowledgeable other. Whatever it might be, how would you describe yourself as a coach?
Lara Steiner: Well, I think that coaching is actually very similar to teaching. And so I believe that you should look at a child holistically. So I believe you should look at teachers holistically. I think you should try to meet them where they're at, kind of let them... It's this balance between letting them lead the learning, but you're also guiding it. So they're making the decisions about what they want to learn and how they maybe want that to transpire. And then you are kind of guiding that journey. Right? I'm fortunate enough that I'm working in a school division that doesn't have strict mandates around math. And so when I'm working with a teacher, typically it's the teacher deciding what they want to work on and where they want the learning to go. So there's some privilege there in that, but it's basically meeting people where they're at and taking them as far as they're willing to go.
And everyone's different that way, just like kids are different in the classroom. And so just really not being... Of course I often have a destination or a goal in my mind, but that can't be what drives the relationship or the interaction or anything. It has to be the teacher driving that. So in order for the relationship to develop appropriately, and I also think a need has to be met. The teacher has a need, the coach has to be able to meet that need or the teacher isn't going to return to the coach and work with them again. So I think those parts. Yeah. Meet them where they're at and make sure a need is being met and you need to have those two things.
Jon Orr: Right. And I think that would be hard to work with various teachers and not say, just want to grab the wheel and steer them exactly where you think they should go. And I think, in my opinion, it's got to be one of the hardest kind of things to do or not do. Lara, what would you say the dynamic between you and Jess here are like? Jess reaches out to you, is that how it's set up in your district? And then you're like, let me visit with Jess. And then what does that first meeting look like or what did that first meeting look like with the two of you?
Lara Steiner: Well, it was during COVID actually. So that kind of, maybe I'm not sure I shouldn't speak for Jess, but I think that created a layer of safety for him perhaps because we met virtually and I wasn't coming into his space, which can be very intimidating for some teachers. And I believe he wanted to learn how to teach multiplying decimals, because he teaches grade seven. Multiplying decimals more effectively. And so I was just showing him how you use a grid, what that would look like visually. How we can support the kids. And then I'm not sure what happened from there, but the relationship continued to evolve. And then I went out there and we started doing work in his classroom and the conversations evolved beyond math talked.
We talked a lot about pedagogy in general. We talked a lot about equity in the classroom and what that looks like. And Jess working on his masters and he would tell me, "Oh, I'm learning about this right now." And then I would get all excited and I would share something with him. So it evolved very organically. But I would say it was also on both of our parts, baby steps. Just like I said, there was that virtual interaction and then there was the in-person and then I believe I went in and did some modeling. And now we talk about lots of different things.
Kyle Pearce: I'm wondering Jess, what's your perspective, going back to sort of that first interaction? Would you agree with that statement that maybe it was a little easier, maybe feeling less threatened in terms of inviting a stranger, someone new into a conversation versus say inviting them right into the classroom? Where it's like, "Hey, nice to meet you. I'm just going to maybe watch you and watch your routine and sort of get to know your students a little bit." What's your thought on that? What's your take on how the beginning began? Was that helpful? And the reason I'm wondering is there might be someone in a role like that, who, depending on what you're saying here, they might be thinking like, "Huh, I never really thought about that. Maybe that's something that I could add to my tool belt is like maybe that first meeting is a virtual meeting even in non COVID times." Right? So what's your perspective on that Jess? Were you like, oh it didn't really matter. Or did that maybe have an influence on where the coaching relationship began?
Jess Michalchuk: Well honestly, I apologize Lara, but can't remember the first online meeting we had.
Kyle Pearce: It was that memorable.
Jess Michalchuk: Yeah. But whenever I meet someone new, I really try and... More focus on the relationship side of things. And Lara, I feel like our conversations aligned pretty quickly. I feel like our pedagogy and just kind of the direction where I was wanting to go where or she's still moving, lined up.Pretty good. So it made it fairly easy for us to connect and chat. And I mean, even I feel like some of the strategies she shares with me is more the parenting side of teaching. Anything from this is a life skill. Would you talk to someone in the class like this. All these different layers that you had in on top of actually being the math teachers, but yeah. Everything was very positive for my side of things. I was going to say, you definitely got to read of where I was and you weren't pushing anywhere. And you're just kind of in the passenger seat helping me when I need it. So it was really good for my side.
Lara Steiner: It's really interesting because it started with the math, but then I remember Jess sent an email. I don't know if he was having a little bit of trouble with the kids in small group, managing the kids. It had something to do kind of with the students and kind of the behavior that they were displaying. And we met and we talked about that and we started talking about how do we co-construct anchor charts for the kids? How do we be explicit about our expectations? We talked about regulation. Like I said, it went beyond just the math coaching and the math instruction. And it went to how do we help these kids be the best that they can be, whether we're talking math or the classroom or even beyond the classroom. And it was interesting because I believe you sent me an email one day saying, I noticed using, we talked about this in the context of math, but I'm doing this in science and the transfers really nice.
And the kids are more successful in science. And I was like, yes. This is excellent because when teachers can transfer that knowledge or those skills into other areas, it makes the learning easier for them. Especially in my role, I really tried to connect a lot with what are you doing in literacy? How can we make that kind of align with what we want to happen in your math classroom? And so, yeah. It was interesting how it evolved because, like I said, it started with the math, but then we started talking about behavior and regulation and then it kind of flowed into other subject areas as well.
Jon Orr: In your opinion guys, what do you think is the best format for you guys, the way you guys organize this? I'm just imagining so when I've worked with coaches in my district or when I've been a coach, there's different models of how that could work. It could be we're co-planning together and then we go and deliver kind of lesson study style. Or it might be like, we're just going to email back and forth with any support questions. Maybe you can answer this separately, but what do you find works the best for you?
Jess Michalchuk: Maybe just for my side, because I did lots of just symbols. So numbers on the board with students and then I was trying to implement the visual and the hands on. I know Lara had lots of great examples and experience with that. Yeah, I'm doing multiplying decimals, which is hilarious. I just did that today. And so she showed me on the grid, the hundred chart and how you can connect to the visual. It's like, hey this is what it looks like on the hundred grid. And then when you multiply them together and then it helped the kids kind of see, okay. Oh, that's why the decimal's there. And you showed me, I think it was Joe Buller's video too, that Lara showed with the three. I can't remember the terms ever, but you're very good with the terms. She can help me out with that.
Jon Orr: Jess, is she coming to your school and your meeting say on your prep time or is this before school or after school? What are some of the logistics? I'm just thinking if I'm a teacher listening at home right now, it's like, how does that work? Am I meeting after school, between classes, how does that look logistically?
Jess Michalchuk: I always tried to do morning or afternoon, especially because there's quite a bit of travel involved. So I wanted to be one in the class with Lara, whether watching her learning from her or just her helping guide me. And then I wanted to do the planning piece as well, some learning from her and then planning. So I always tried to look at my schedule and be like, okay. What do I got? Math and a prep. I'm going to bring you in on. Here's these days that I'm free. And then between us, we'd get it in the schedule. And then that way it'd be multiple hours within the class and outside. And that's what I really wanted because I felt that it would connect kind of everything together.
Kyle Pearce: I love it. Go ahead.
Lara Steiner: There's times where I feel like being there is what the teacher needs and then there's times where... I remember the one time Jess had a question and it wasn't really appropriate to answer it via email or it just wasn't a good fit. And I said, "Can we chat for 15 minutes virtually after school?" And he's like, "Yeah. I can do that today." I think that even happened the same day, that one. But it's like that combination of what need are we trying to meet? What are we trying to achieve? And what is the best way to achieve that and not walking ourselves into, I always have to be there in person because travel is a huge issue because he's quite a ways from where I am.
But I guess, maybe being flexible in how you go about that and making it work. He'll say, "Hey, these are the dates I have available." And then I kind of say, "Okay. This is what I have available." Whenever I ask teachers, I'm always like, tell me what you have first. I don't like to say, these are the dates I'm available. I try to be accommodating towards them because you try to remove as many barriers as possible. Right? And so just being very accommodating can help build that relationship too.
Kyle Pearce: I love it. I heard you earlier describing this and I'm hearing it in this. You just use the word flexible. And definitely that word came to mind in terms of, in order to do that role or be in that role, being flexible is really important in a number of ways. And it's being very in tune, being able to kind of coming in with an idea, but then being okay to sort of pivot away from that idea. We talk about that as a teacher in the classroom. When you're doing your lesson plan, you're sort of thinking and anticipating what students might do. As a coach in that mentor role, you're sort of doing the same thing. Okay, I think this is maybe where this particular individual wants to go with this learning, but then you get there and maybe the conversation unfolds differently and you have to pivot a little bit and sort of go with that.
And I'm wondering, do you have any ideas or any maybe strategies for people who are either new to the role of mentor or maybe even leader? Because I think a lot of the coaching qualities, the coaching characteristics, should be the same characteristics that we have in leadership positions as well. So for administrators, for other people in roles of responsibility, being able to sort, we'll say read the room, and sort of know what someone needs or at least attempt to try to understand what they need. How do you sort of hold yourself back from maybe grabbing the wheel? Because I know what I think right away. When I'm like, I think this might help this particular person, but if that person's over here working on something completely different, it doesn't matter what I think would help. It's not going to help at that time. So what sort of strategies, what are you thinking about, in order to, I guess, resist that human temptation to go like, oh. You think it's this? Actually I think it's that. Let's do this. What are some strategies you can help us with?
Lara Steiner: The language I use is very invitational. So would you be open to, what do you think about. And kind of when you're using that invitational language, you're kind of almost fishing. You're throwing a line out there and you're kind of seeing what you get back. And then it's very much like teaching. I'm going to throw an open ended question out there and I'm going to see what I get back and then I'm going to be responsive in the moment. And I'm kind of making those decisions moment by moment. And I'm kind of watching the teacher's body language, just like I would watch the student's body language, all of those things. But I think if you're interested in coaching, you have to be a lifelong learner. You have to have passion for your subject matter because passion is infectious and contagious. I light up when I talk about math education and I think the teachers around me see that.
And the other thing too is I think you have to be very humble. I was working with a teacher in a residency model, which is another model that they use in the school division that I'm in. And he was a very strong Phys Ed teacher and he had this math class and math wasn't exactly something that was in his wheelhouse. And I just thought, wow. If I were in the gym, how would I feel right now? I'd probably be pretty uncomfortable. And I just remember thinking like, oh because I'm in a context that values math, I kind of hold the power here. But if the tables were turned, I would be in a position where I would maybe be feeling very self-conscious about my skills. And so it's having thoughts like that that keep you in that place where...
And you want to help. I think having the right intention of just trying to help the teacher and help the kids. One thing I've always wondered about when teachers perceive coaches is they should perceive the coach as a resource. This is someone I can turn to help me solve this problem. And sometimes coaches aren't perceived that way in Saskatchewan. You're still part of the STF. So you're on par with a teacher. There's no hierarchy there. And so I think those are some really important things that you have to keep in mind.
Jon Orr: Yeah. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes, I think is so important in that role so that you can understand where they're coming from and then you're coming from a place of help. I think it's an invaluable skill to have that. And I think maybe it's something that we should all strive to do more of because I think it can help us in so many ways. Jess, what would you say has surprised you the most from working with Lara and getting coaching?
Jess Michalchuk: I'm going to go back to that, the first initial thing, just how our pedagogy aligns so well. And then it just makes it so much easier to work with an individual where we didn't have to have those discussions to kind of find the middle point. It's just, we both kind of knew which direction I was wanting to go and willing to go. So that made it really helpful. And I think just the learning journey. I just was being humbled that Lara's math session and she started doing elementary math. And when she did that I was like, why are we doing this? Because I'm a why person. And then once she started rolling, it was like, okay. This is very important for me. I need to know where the kids are starting at the younger grades because if they're missing that skill in my grades... So it didn't honestly, every time I met with Lara, I've always learned something new. So even that I appreciate that.
Kyle Pearce: I love it. How about Lara? I mean, I think when you're in a role where you're coming in and working with different educators, especially ahead of time and when you don't know the educator, maybe personally. There's probably often some surprises, any surprises that come to mind from this current coach educator relationship.
Lara Steiner: The relationship with Jess in particular or in general?
Kyle Pearce: I would say with Jess in particular. Sometimes you come in and you might have a certain idea of what you might want to do, or maybe you have a sense that hey, many educators are a little more resistant to coaching or when you're coming in, you want to make sure that you don't want to go too strong, too fast or anything like that. Anything that comes to mind from this particular scenario or situation?
Lara Steiner: I think that one of the things that I really liked about our situation, which isn't always possible is after that first initial visit we had, he did have a prep and we had a significant amount of time to debrief what had happened or what had taken place in the classroom and why I was making the decisions that I was making as I was teaching that day. And then that's allowed the conversation to evolve to some other things with regards to his masters. But I really believe that opportunity to debrief probably really built some trust and some connection there about we see things very similarly.
And had we not had that opportunity, I think that would've affected how the relationship evolved because it was in that conversation where I think we both came to realize, okay. We have some mindsets here that align really nicely with one another. Yeah. Depending on the administrator that you have it, or even the willingness of the teacher, if you don't have that time to meet afterwards where I can kind of explain, hey this is what I noticed. And this is why I made the decision that I made, then sometimes they're not getting everything that they could potentially get out of that coaching experience.
Jon Orr: Right. So Lara, when you are thinking about the coaching process, are you thinking like, okay. We're going to have a pre-meeting we're going to do this or we're going to have a post-meeting. Is that something that you're like, this is what we're doing, this is how this kind of structure is going to work on those types of days?
Lara Steiner: Usually, I ask them to tell me what their need is and then I say, okay. This is what I'm considering. Are you okay with that? And they be like, "Yeah." And usually that involves me modeling, which initially is nice for creating trust. So they don't have to teach in front of me because lots of teachers feel self-conscious about that. So then it kind of creates some comfort for me. And then, like I said, if you have the opportunity to debrief afterwards, it really allows that connection and that those conversations to evolve in.
We have a model here called the residency model where you spend a significant amount of time in one school. And sometimes when you're in a residency model, you're going from grade one and period one to grade three and period two. And you're bouncing a lot and you don't get that opportunity to debrief in a really meaningful way. You might at the end of the day or at lunch, but it's harder. Whereas, like I said, with Jess, we had that opportunity to really debrief and really go deep. And I think that subsequently allowed the relationship to evolve more meaningfully.
Kyle Pearce: I love it. And Jess, I'm wondering, what would you say to educators out there who are listening and they're going, I've got access to a coach. There's coaches in the district, but maybe haven't reached out and maybe haven't even thought about it. What might you say to someone who might be considering now that they've heard this conversation, but are maybe still feeling a little unsure or maybe hesitant to actually go ahead and type that email or stop them in the hallway the next time they see them in passing?
Jess Michalchuk: Well, I was actually thinking about that question when Lara was talking because there's some really strong math teachers in my school here. And so I approached them first and asked them. But again, they couldn't help me move in the direction that I wanted to. So then it was a huge risk for me to reach out, to ask Lara to come into the school because there's a lot of uncertainty. It's okay, she's new the division. Why is Jess asking someone outside the building because we have all these strong math teachers in the building. You got to kind of look out for yourself and take that risk if that's what it is. Sending an email is not going to... It might be challenging for some people to do, but you never know what's going to happen unless you take that first step. So it was very positive for me and I kept moving in direction and then even one of the other math teachers, we've had some conversations about some of the newer stuff and the changes I've made. So it's starting to branch outside of my classroom, which is exciting as well.
Jon Orr: Nice. It's like, you have to be brave for only really 10 seconds, that time it takes you to write the email and hit the send button. And then you don't have to be brave anymore. Right? It's like it's gone. It's like that momentarily brave moment. And then it's out there. Lara, if you had a big message to leave with the listener right now, who's listening. They're kind of leaning in right now and they're waiting for you to say something about coaching. What would you say is a big takeaway that you'd want to leave them with?
Lara Steiner: If you're a teacher and you're considering coaching, you think that's something that you are wanting, but you're unsure. I think it wouldn't matter if you were talking to a literacy coach, a STEAM coach, a math coach, they would just want to work with a teacher who wants to learn. That's all a coach wants. A coach doesn't walk in with expectations. They just want a teacher who wants to learn and grow their pedagogy and cares about kids.
Kyle Pearce: I love it. And I couldn't agree more. I think sometimes you get this thought in your mind, for whatever reason, it just sort of pops, in these stories your mind tells yourself. Lara wants to come and change everything about what I do or that you're out there to make everybody do something a certain way. And in reality, I think you just said it best is, you're out there. You want everyone to essentially take that next step on the journey that they're on. And that's fantastic. How about Jess? Any last takeaways for those teachers who are out there? Maybe they're a little bit... maybe they're one step closer. What would be that last final message before we take it off for the evening?
Jess Michalchuk: There's so much. Well, I'll give them the masters kick. If you like to learn and you really want to push yourself, that's the best way because you have deadlines. Previous to that, you don't have deadlines with your masters. You're constantly reading and collaborating with other people and it is the very powerful way. If you're ready for that moment of life, that's the way to go if you really want to push yourself.
Jon Orr: Oh good message there for the folks listening. Thanks so much the two of you Hey, we're so glad to bring you on, each of you, for another episode. Hey, we don't have too many, right Kyle? Too many repeat guests. Pretty awesome that you guys came back and want to share your story, your coaching dynamic story. And I think coaches listening right now are kind of picking up tidbits to implement in their roles. So thanks so much for joining us and we won't be strangers. We'll probably be reaching out again in the future.
Jess Michalchuk: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me on again. I really, really enjoy doing this.
Kyle Pearce: Awesome. Thanks so much. See you, Lara and Jess. Happy birthday, my friend.
Jess Michalchuk: Thank you.
Kyle Pearce: Nice job, my friends.
Jon Orr: Thanks, everybody.
Kyle Pearce: Well there, math moment makers. I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as we did. As I mentioned going into the episode, I really appreciated having both sides of the story, sort of getting that perspective. Jess being vulnerable and reaching out and saying, there's some things I want to do in my math class. We didn't really get deep into what wasn't working, but it was if you go back to the original episode with Jess, you sort of hear a little bit of that coming out. That he didn't want to just do it the way that it had always been done. He wanted to sort of step outside. And that's when he reached out to the coach in his particular school or assigned to his school, which is Lara.
And Lana, really you can tell, has that quality there, Jon, of being a good listener. And for those coaches out there, and those mentors and that's administrators as well, being able to listen, observe and think through where is the teacher at in their journey and not to sort of come out with the answer. Not to come out and tell them what to do, but to maybe have that next question, to keep them going down that path, I think is something that Lara is clearly doing a really great job with. And she told us afterwards she's accepted a new role as an assistant principal. And I'm sure she's going to be carrying those skills with her into that new role.
Jon Orr: Yeah. I was impressed by that empathy that she shows, especially when she talked about being in a gym class versus a math class and what that might feel like for her. I think that's an important kind of memory or thought that you have to carry with you while you're a coach going into different classrooms, especially working with teachers who math might not be their strong suit. So super important idea there. And I think that's a valuable skill she has, but also a valuable message to pass on to us and our listener here with us. Kyle, I know that there were some nuggets here for people to take away, but I want you right now to think about what would be your nugget that you're taking away because you could write it down.
And you could share it with a friend or a colleague, talk about it at your lunch table. There's something that you're going to want to do to consolidate some of that learning that you've just had. And in one way, we know that makes a difference for you in the future is to kind of solidify it by writing it down or sharing it. So make sure you do one of those things here before it washes away after you say wash the dishes or finish your run. Those things kind of fall away once we turn off the earbuds. So make sure that you do something to hold yourself accountable.
Kyle Pearce: And not only will you be doing yourself a favor by taking Jon's advice there, but you'll also do us a huge favor. If you leave a rating and review on Apple podcast, that could be a great spot for you to take just a couple minutes. Leave a line or two on what was your big takeaway. Leave that as your review for the podcast. It goes a long way to help us reach an even wider audience. And remember we have all of these podcast episodes as well as a weekly video that we release on YouTube each and every week.
So make sure that you hit the subscribe button over there on YouTube. There's that little notification bell. If you have kids like me, you hear everybody saying ring that bell. So if you ring that bell, that'll actually notify you when these episodes go live and Hey Jon, I'm going to admit. When I'm on a run oftentimes I'm actually listening to things on YouTube, not even watching it, but I get a lot of really good stuff by listening to things on YouTube as well. So don't be a stranger over on YouTube, hit that like button subscribe and hit the notification belt
Jon Orr: Show notes and links to resources and complete transcripts to read from the web or download and take with you, head on over to makemathmoments.com/episode188. Again, that's makemathmoments.com/episode188.
Kyle Pearce: And friends you know what I heard from someone recently? They said some of their favorite episodes are our math mentoring moment episodes where we bring in math moment makers, just like you, who are working with an idea. It's like think of Jon and I as almost like your mentor where you can reach out to us with that problem of practice. And we can work together to try to find some next steps, some ideas. What you're not going to get is us coming back at you with the right thing to do. We're going to be asking you questions. We're going to dig deeper and all together we'll all learn something from the experience. So if you want to be on one of those episodes, we'd love to have you. Go ahead, fill out a very short form over at makemathmoments.com/mentor. That's make math moments.com/mentor. And you might be getting an email with a booking calendar link real soon. Well until next time, math moment maker friends. I'm Kyle Pierce.
Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr.
Kyle Pearce: Hi fives for us.
Jon Orr: And high five for you.
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