Episode #195: How To Mentor Educators With New Math Standards – A Math Mentoring Moment
Today we bring on Laura Tomas for a record third appearance. Laura has been an educator for 31 years, she’s a math coach and fellow podcast host from Palm Beach Florida.
Laura chats with us today about providing support during the pandemic, why school leaders and coaches need to step into a teaching role on a regular basis, how to build a mentor/mentee relationship without pushing too hard, and how we can best support teachers when the standards shift or change.
This is another Math Mentoring Moment episode where we talk with a member of the Math Moment Maker Community who is working through problems of practice and together we brainstorm possible next steps and strategies to overcome them.
- How we can best support teachers when the standards shift/change;
- How to build mentor/mentee relationships without pushing too hard, too fast;
- Why school leaders should step into teaching roles on a regular basis; and,
- How you can use “green sheets” as a means to build relationships by offering value to classroom teachers.
Laura Thomas: One of the things I've really been thinking about was, and I don't know if this is going to be my little hidden agenda slash gem this year, but it's the amount of time that teachers talk versus students talk. I want to push that as much as I can so that the reality comes to the teachers to say, "Oh, I need to stop talking-
Kyle Pearce: Hey, hey, there, Math Moment Makers. Today, we bring on Laura Thomas for her third appearance on the podcast. Yes, that's right. That means that she has technically leapfrogged James Tanton. You'll hear more about that in the episode. Laura has been an educator for 31 years. She's a math coach and a fellow podcast host from Palm Beach, Florida.
Jon Orr: Yeah. Laura chats with us today about providing support during the pandemic as a math coach, why school leaders and coaches need to step into a teaching role on a more regular basis to feel that empathy that teachers have and to best support their teachers and how to build that mentor-mentee relationship without pushing too hard. And finally, we talk a good length of time about how to best support teachers when the standards or curriculum has shifted or changed.
Kyle Pearce: This is another Math Mentoring moment episode, where we talk with a member of the Math Moment Maker community, just like you, who's working through problems of practice, and together, we brainstorm some possible next steps and strategies to overcome them.
Jon Orr: Let's do this.
Kyle Pearce: Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I'm Kyle Pearce.
Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr. We are from makemathmoments.com and together with you.
Kyle Pearce: The community of Math Moment Makers worldwide who want to build and deliver problem-based math lessons that spark curiosity.
Jon Orr: Fuel sense-making.
Kyle Pearce: And ignite your teacher moves. Welcome, all of our wonderful Math Moment Maker friends. We have another Math Mentoring moment episode to share with you. And again, as I mentioned, it's out with Laura Thomas, who's joining us for a third time. What a fantastic person, overall person, also mentor and coach in her district. And really just an awesome, awesome math huggable friend. Jon, I'm super excited to dive into this one again.
Jon Orr: Her journey with us has been over the last two years already, maybe even three years, because we talked to her over a year ago on the last episode, though she is one of our early episodes too. I think episode 46, we talked with her about her coaching role back then. And then, since that first episode, she took the leap and decided to make her own podcast and help teachers in that way, which was amazing to read like that journey from being a support teacher into a podcast. And then, continuing that role, coming back on to talk to us on episode 93 about supporting teachers through lesson study.
And then, now, through the pandemic, we come back after returning somewhat mostly, I think in our area for sure, back to a new normal. We chatted with her for a third time to see where that journey has taken us. So, stick around here, and you're going to hear all about her journey and what she's doing to support teachers now.
Kyle Pearce: All right, let's get into it. Hey, hey there, Laura, thanks for joining us again on the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. We were just chatting. This is your third time, which we were discussing, actually pushes you over the great James Tanton. Because as we've discussed last time, James was on, even though he is been on three times, he was on with a co-guest. What is that? A co-guest. Is that what we call?
Laura Thomas: Co-guest.
Jon Orr: Yeah, that doesn't sound right, but let's go with it.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah. We're going to leave that in there. So, Laura, congratulations.
Laura Thomas: Thank you.
Kyle Pearce: I will definitely be sending this on to James just to rub it in a little bit. But how are things going in your world? Do us a favor and just remind everyone for those who... it's been a while since you've been on. Last time, I think it was episode what, 93, I believe it was the last time.
Laura Thomas: Ninety-three.
Kyle Pearce: And we are approaching episode 200. So, wow, almost a hundred episodes here. Let us know, remind us of your role. How are things going in your world these days?
Laura Thomas: Okay. Well, first, I have to say thank you for giving me that honor of being pushed over James Tanton's two and a half times. I am Laura Thomas. I am a math coach at one elementary school, Belvedere Elementary School. Shout out. Whoa ho. In West Palm Beach, Florida. And this, I can't believe this, but this is going to be my 31st year in the system.
Kyle Pearce: How awesome is that?
Jon Orr: Congratulations.
Kyle Pearce: Yes. Before you keep going, I want to know, did they give you a pin or some-
Jon Orr: Not yet.
Kyle Pearce: No? Aw.
Jon Orr: Pat on the back maybe, right? Pat on the back. It's like, keep it going, keep it going.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, just keep it up. All right.
Laura Thomas: And this will actually be my 11th year as a coach, which I'm very excited about. What else? My podcast is going very well. Learning Through Math. Karina and I, we've recorded, I think 83 episodes. We take a break during the summer because we're tired.
Jon Orr: Right. It's summertime.
Laura Thomas: But we have a book club going right now. We're reading Figuring Out Fluency In Math Teaching and Learning.
Jon Orr: Good stuff. That's a good one.
Laura Thomas: And Jenny Bay-Williams has actually come on a few times. So, shout out to Jenny. Yay.
Kyle Pearce: Wow, Jenny is so great.
Jon Orr: Great. Great stuff. Great book. Yeah, that book we had on our docket and been reading these last little bit, heavily influenced some of the work we're doing in my classroom itself. So, great stuff there, great book. And yeah, the podcast is going strong. So, congratulations there. Laura, do us a favor here. Let's dive back a little bit, unpack a little bit about where you were in your coaching journey back on episode 93, which is more than a year ago where you've come from there and then into now. Like this is a where are you now episode and we just want to do a journey of where you were and then where you are.
Last time, we talked about how to help teachers change mindset towards growth. We talked about lesson study and our experiences with lesson study and your experiences with lesson study and then how leadership changes. So, fill us in on what's happened since then and where you are now.
Laura Thomas: Okay. This will be my third year at Belvedere Elementary, which means the past two years, which we know have been, there's just not enough additives for the past two years. It's been challenging. I've been building lots and lots of relationships and I've been trying to do it one by one, just one teacher at a time. I've found that that's been the most effective.
And when I really make a relationship strong with one teacher, then that teacher becomes like my PR person to say to their friends, "Hey, Laura, yada, yada, yada." And then, that person joins in, not the fold, but you know what I mean, with whatever I'm trying to sell.
Kyle Pearce: Something that pops into my mind because you had mentioned COVID, this is your 11th year in this particular role. I'm wondering, has your approach to building relationships... it's interesting with the timing as well as you're mentioning. So, third year at Belvedere, for those podcasts are evergreen. So, someone might be listening to this fresh out of the gate when it goes live. Other people, it could be a couple of years down the road. So, just to paint them a bit of a picture, we're recording this in July of 2022.
So, this past year is like the full transition back to, we'll call it normalcy if we could even say it as such. So, those first couple of years, you were probably deep in pandemic restriction, a bit of chaos, and all of those things. So, that can be really tough to make and build relationships, probably doing a lot of Zoom like we're doing right now, things like that.
And I know when I've worked with new teachers and I see new teachers, teachers I have yet to build a relationship with through the pandemic, I found that it was harder to break the ice just because you aren't in the flesh, like you're not in the same room, you don't get that same vibe or just the same energy from the conversation.
So, my wonder is... now, I love how you're saying that you're going one by one. You can't try to do too much too fast otherwise, and I'm sure you've been there before. I think everyone in a role like yours has experienced that, especially when you're new to that role, you try to do everything for everyone and be everything to everyone. So, my wonder for you though, is, has your approach changed now building these relationships now that you've been through a pandemic.
And in particular, why I'm curious is because I found that the pandemic personally really had me build more empathy for educators and just what they're up against. And I'm just wondering like for you, has that influenced how you're doing your role, how you're leading each day and supporting educators? Like is the pressure and support we try to offer, how does that look and sound? What are your thoughts on that? And how would you say the pandemic has influenced what you're doing now?
Laura Thomas: When I got my job, it was during lockdown and I ended up interviewing over Google Meet, which was totally strange. Because I'm a people person. I want to hug you. I want to see you. And got the job. When we went back to school two years ago, we were in a mandatory mask, both at the same time. So, kids could be virtual or come back in person. I'm calling two years ago, hybrid H-E-L-L because it was just insanity. We didn't start school until August 31st because our district decided if the numbers are going up, let's wait as long as we can, which meant when we got back to school, we had teachers that didn't want to come back yet because they were scared.
They had loved ones that had autoimmune issues and everything. So, I ended up being, oh, I'm going to take that back. The first two weeks, we all were on virtual. So, I happened to have to be the ESOL push-in person for second grade, which meant I was jumping into different Google Meets during that time. So, the second-grade teachers, I immediately made a bond with because I was with them virtually like this.
When we got back to school, one of the teachers decided she was going to wait to come back for a couple of weeks. So, I was the third-grade teacher. If I hadn't had that experience, my view would've been completely different because, for two weeks, I had to go through exactly what the teachers were going through. And because of that experience that gave me so much empathy for the teachers.
So, I feel like I became the voice, the bridge between admin and teachers. I think I've kept that role up because we're in the leadership role, but we're not in the admin role. We're still teachers, we're still colleagues with them. So, I consider myself to be that bridge between what one group wants and the other group wants, things like that.
Jon Orr: Having said that, in thinking back to moving forward, and coaches who go in and out of roles for districts, and I know that when you think about a coach, who's newly in the role, they've normally come from the teacher, but maybe there's a coach that's been there for a long time and didn't get that experience of stepping into a teaching role. Like you said, it's changed how you viewed supporting those teachers.
I'm just wondering your thoughts about big-picture ideas. Like how important is it for a coach to step back into that teaching role occasionally in your opinion?
Laura Thomas: Super important. Over the past 11 years, when I say I'm a coach, that means also other duties as assigned. One year, I had a teacher go out on maternity leave for six weeks. So, I stepped in and was a fourth-grade math teacher of record for those six weeks. A couple of years ago, because we have an advanced math class, there was a group of kids in fifth grade that needed a math teacher. So, I also became for the whole year, a fifth-grade math teacher of record. I think it's so important.
Even admin, they need to go in and sub for a day or sub for half a day. They need to see the reality that even though we were given this plate, the plate never changes size, but things just keep piling on and on and nothing ever gets taken off of teachers' plates. So, I think everyone needs to have those experiences. Even people at the district office, they need to come back in. Now, I have to say last year, and I'm sure you both understand this. The sub situation was insanity.
So, yes, I was a coach, but I was also a sub just like everybody else in a resource position because there was nobody left. There was nobody there to do it. So, last year, I'm calling COVID cluster because it was just ridiculous. And I've been trying to think of my cute little acronym for this year and I'm hoping it's going to be something like new normal.
Because there's things that we did pre-COVID that we've forgotten about because we've been in survival mode for two years. And I was thinking the other day, "Wow. I used to do X, Y, Z. I need to bring that back." And I think all teachers need that.
Kyle Pearce: I wonder. So, not only bringing some of those things back that we've maybe forgotten about or we'll call it moved on from more out of necessity. But then, also, thinking about maybe some of the things that we don't want to bring back or the things that we're happy aren't back. So, reflecting on those two things. I love that, I've used that term before, the new normal, because it's really hard to, let's say go back as if nothing ever happened, but we definitely want to make sure, especially like the collaboration you had mentioned.
Like you want to go and hug people. I'm so happy that you're still here because I know that that's something that you really want to give out those hugs, those hugs t-shirts. Well, that would've been a hard place to be. Especially once you come back from, say, virtual learning and so forth, and there might still be some distancing rules and things like that in place. So, yeah, there's so much going on. There's so much that's happened over these past couple of years.
I'm wondering, can we do a quick little check in before we go to where your head is at now that it's summertime as we're recording this? So, I'm sure just like educators in the classroom, those who are in mentor, mentee roles are also thinking ahead to the next year, the things they want to change, the things they want to do more of, less of and so forth. I'm wondering, were you able to get to that lesson study piece a little more deeply?
I know we did discuss that back in episode 93. Is that coming along? I know you had mentioned building those relationships. Are you at that place where you feel like that lesson study is evolving in certain classrooms? I'm sure it's not everywhere, but update us on that. And then, we'll dig into where your head is at lately.
Laura Thomas: Okay. No, I did not get to do the lesson study the way that I would have wanted to. I don't know if you remember, but back in the first episode, 46, we talked about my green sheets, which was, what do you want me to come in and take data on and everything? Well, I brought them out, not the first year, but last year. And one of the teachers said, "Can you make this digital?" I said, "Absolutely."
So, I put it on Google Forms and made my green sheets digital, but I also put it in mailboxes for people. So, there's a little hybrid thing that I did. Take the old and the new. I think for this year, well, I don't know if you know, but Florida, we're getting new standards again.
Jon Orr: That sounds like us.
Laura Thomas: Which means that there now needs to be yet another shift in everybody's brains. So, we went from before Common Core, but Common Core to MAFS, which was the Math Florida Standards. And now, we're going to be doing the best to standards, which is Benchmarks for Excellence and Student Thinking. And there have been many shifts. And one thing that I know is going to have to happen this year, or teachers are going to have and myself, we're going to have to learn what's happened.
For example, fifth grade, we're bringing in averaging, we're bringing in mean median and mode, where that was a middle school standard for the past, however many years. And we have to all be using a number line from K to 12 as one of our tools. Please don't get me started. I'm going to, for kindergarten, for sure, I'm going to make them into number paths for the kids.
But things like that. We're going to have to get into the nitty-gritty this year. So, I think that's going to be our lesson study. It's going to be the new standard.
Kyle Pearce: I love that. And you just brought up one example I was going to mention. As soon as you had said this shift when new standards come out, this goes back to your point about coaches and administrators and district office staff, coming into the classroom and relearning what it's like to be an educator. Because you remove yourself from that role. Standards is one of these things. And in Ontario, we just had a shift, actually 2020 was when they released the new Ontario grade one to eight curriculum, right? Talk about timing. The pandemic was already happening.
We were months into the pandemic, and then new curriculum. Look at it both ways. You could say, Hey, what better time than now when things are crazy and just like, let's just give it a go. Or is this the worst timing ever because everyone is so distracted by other things? But nonetheless, when those new standards come out, there is such a huge amount of work. It's not simply like read them once and all is good. Your number line example is such a great example of how that can be so misunderstood by educators.
Using a number line way before it's developmentally appropriate. So, as you mentioned, number path would be a great way to do that. We have some number path activities on mathisvisual.com that helps lead towards there. And then, I'd probably argue like tape diagrams would probably be a little nicer than, say, an abstract number line and we can get into that later. But this is where a role like yours is going to be so key.
And I wonder, how might you enter into, let's say a lesson study situation or try to introduce or promote the idea for educators. I'm wondering, how can you maybe fish out that idea? Is it maybe just saying, "Hey, you pick a standard," or maybe it's, "Here's some standards that I've noticed as the coach, I've noticed this one about number lines, and I'm looking for a group of educators who want to explore number lines at various grade levels."
Do you have any thoughts on that? And maybe this might be what we dig into today around how do we support you as this new curriculum comes out while you still are trying to hit some of these other goals like lesson study, because we just know that that's a great tool.
Laura Thomas: I have to say that in Palm Beach County, we have the greatest elementary math team that supports us. We've already had trainings through the summer. They've been training, training, training. And thankfully, we've actually, I don't want you to spit out your coffee, but we've gotten paid for it for online, which-
Kyle Pearce: Nice.
Laura Thomas: What?
Kyle Pearce: Yeah. Money is flowing.
Laura Thomas: As we know, not everybody's going to attend those trainings, right? That's the big thing. Our district elementary math team puts out units of study, basically for us where they'll take all of the good information, make it into a critical information slide show so that during our PLCs, we can bring it up or during a team meeting or whatever, a planning meeting and say, "Okay, these are the standards that are going to be hit. Here's what the yay and the nay do for there."
And then, they put up so many more resources than just our textbook, which of course, will be new this year because it will have the stamp that says BEST standards approved. Now, how good is that? I don't know. I haven't dug into the textbooks yet. But I think our lesson study this year is going to be deep diving into the new standards for sure.
Jon Orr: That's a great choice based off this pivot and why not we should be focusing on supporting our teachers in that way. Laura, when you think of that being where you're focus is going to be driven, where do you think the biggest challenge is? Or what do you think the biggest challenge is going to be in that support?
Laura Thomas: Well, time is always our number one enemy. It can be used for good or bad, just like superheroes. Again, back to the resistance from teachers, willing to want to learn these new things, and I think it's literally just, I don't want to say chipping away, but one person at a time, and again, if I can get one person from each team on board, then they can spread the joy of math. The other thing I was thinking of was back to the green sheets. I've left everything open-ended this year.
And I was thinking, this year, I might give them choices to say, "Laura, please come in and take data on," and then I'm going to fill in some of the blanks. And that's where I would love to hear from your perspectives too. What are some of those blanks that I can fill in to come in and take data on? Because, Jon, you're deep in the classroom. So, here I am, we've hugged. We've gotten to know each other.
Okay. Now, we're in our press conference session here. Jon, what do you want to become better at this year? What's something that I can help you so that it's not evaluative? It's just, let me come in and help you become better.
Jon Orr: Right. So, when you think about those green sheets, like fill me in a little bit about what you've asked prior to that, on those green sheets, or give a snapshot to the listeners who, say, haven't listened to episode 46. And you talked about, we fill it in, and is that all it is? It's like, Hey, what do I want to be observed on or feedback on? And that's it? Is that what the green sheet is? Or is there more to it that we should all know about before we answer that?
Laura Thomas: So, that's just the first stepping stone. That's like the pre-pre-conference so that I know when we meet what we're going to end up discussing, and this, of course, is after we've already built relationships with each other, but it's, what is one thing specifically that you want to become better at? The second one is, how can I specifically help you achieve that goal? So, once I have that information in front of me, then I can say, "Okay, when do you want to meet?" And then, have a one-on-one conversation with the teachers.
Kyle Pearce: Now, from that, you probably have this wide spectrum, right? There's some teachers who have something very specific and that probably makes our lives and our roles very easy. Because they're going, "Listen, I just want to become consistent with using number talks as a routine in my classroom. Can you help me get better at that?" And then, boom, you're off to the races. So, now, it's like about, okay, structuring your math block. How many times a week, when you say consistent, does that mean every day? Does it mean three times a week?
What's your goal there and what resources should we look at? So, it creates so many opportunities there. What if it's something more general? I'm wondering about your digging deeper. So, for example, I'm going to guess this is us anticipating what's going to happen this year in your situation. Teachers going to say, "I want to learn the new curriculum." And I'm wondering there, and this is for Jon too. So, it's putting it to all of us right now. We're all in very similar roles.
What's our next mentor move we'll call it, when someone says something like that? Your initial thoughts probably like, "Ah," it could be anything, right? A bit of panic, a little bit of confusion. But I'm wondering, how do we help hone in for those educators so that we get something that's a little bit more, we'll say a SMART goal, something more specific, something that we can actually see and measure whether we've made some achievement?
So, flip to Laura first, what are your thoughts there? Where might you go next? Or what might you do next in that particular scenario?
Laura Thomas: Thankfully, our district elementary math team puts out a pacing calendar for us. That way, we know what's coming throughout the whole year. If a teacher would come to me and say, "I want to learn all the new standards," I'm going to say, "Great, we're going to go general in PLCs or team meetings." And if there's something specific they want, that's when I will schedule a one-on-one time with them. I think this year though, anticipating here, I think it's definitely going to be a global at first and specific as we get into each unit. I have no idea.
I don't know if the textbook is aligned with the sequence of the standards or it's going to be a mishmash. I don't know. So, I'm probably going to have to be the PR person for information like that. We're not starting on page one and going straight through this whole school year.
The other thing I was thinking of back to the green sheets with the individual teachers, one of the things I've really been thinking about was, and I don't know if this is going to be my little hidden agenda slash gem this year, but it's the amount of time that teachers talk versus students talk. I want to push that as much as I can so that the reality comes to the teachers to say, "Oh, I need to stop talking and let the kids learn."
Kyle Pearce: Like your little hidden agenda. Right? It doesn't necessarily have to be, they know it ahead of time, but that's going to be, almost like your personal goal for them too.
Jon Orr: And to build on that, Laura, I think when teachers say, "I need this," when we ask teachers, say, "What do you want," I find teachers will say surface-level issues. Like I need more time. Or, like your example, I need to know the standards. Or, I want to get homework better, or how do I engage my students? I sometimes think these are surface-level things, even though there are big things. And how do you go about trying to weave themes into that problem? Because some of these problems can be funneled into like this one area where this is actually the solution.
You're saying this up here, but I know that this down here is going to help address that but also other things. Like maybe teaching with models or teaching with different strategies. Even though they're saying these, you know some of these down here are going to be the helpful thing that's needed. How do you go about nudging the teachers down those pathways when they're saying surface-level issues?
Laura Thomas: One of the best things that I find is that I go into their classrooms and model a lesson, teach a lesson, they can watch me. And then, afterwards, have that deeper conversation. Okay. What's something that you saw that I did to engage the students or whatever, the thing that they wanted to know? And I've actually been able to do that with a few teachers over the past few years too. And then, again, they become my PR person to say, "Oh, my gosh, Laura came in and did this, have her come in and do that."
And again, I know time is our enemy, but it's giving time for the teachers to get them to chip away at what they really, really want. Of course, I can ask all the guiding questions to have them get down to that funnel of what they really, really want, but it has to come from them no matter what.
Kyle Pearce: I love it. Exactly. And we know this about you. We know this through the previous conversations that we've had and through your podcast. Congratulations again on how far you're closing on the hundred mark, which is pretty awesome, pretty fantastic. So, congratulations there. But something too, and I'm hearing this in what you're saying, something where my head goes is like always trying to find, I heard Jon use the word theme, like trying to find these themes in what they're saying to try to get to the real problem. Like trying to get to the real struggle. Sometimes it's a struggle that maybe they're unaware of.
For example, some educators don't think it's a problem that they do most of the talking in the classroom. So, there's this unconscious problem going on and we're in this role where we want to help to emerge that idea some way somehow. And it sounds like you've got that going on in your back pocket there in the back of your mind.
And then, on the other hand, trying to make it a little more explicit, some of the challenges. So, I'm picturing as well. And I know with our curriculum, our grade one to eight curriculum that was brand new in 2020, we have a de-streamed or a de-tracked grade nine curriculum that we began in 2021.
Laura Thomas: You're so lucky by the way. Sorry, I just had to interject that. Congratulations for that.
Kyle Pearce: Lucky but lots of work ahead of us as we've discussed. So, we know it's a step in the right direction, but the reality is that educators are not really put in a position to feel comfortable, confident, to feel like they're able to do the most with a de-streamed course. They were having struggles with students in streamed courses, like engaging. So, there's a lot of work to be done there.
I'm picturing, as you're looking at these standards and you are becoming familiar with them and trying to make connections across the grades, that's another lens that you have in your role is that you get to take a couple of steps back and look at that theme. You had mentioned number lines as an example. So, I'll use that. That's a theme.
So, when I look at that and I go, "Okay, that's the number line." I haven't read your standards yet. So, I'm just making a guess here, but I wonder, is there even a higher, like if we go up one level from number lines? So, that's a specific model I'm picturing. Are there other models that they have that are spanning the grade? So, I'm picturing, I hope that the array slash area model, so number paths and number lines and tape diagrams to me are in the same vein, they're in the same family of linearness.
And then, you have this areaness model, like are models. Is it more about models? Is that a theme? Are there strategies that are themed throughout? Or if there's not, is there something that you can bring to the table to say, for example, when we're using number lines, if they don't talk about strategies, maybe that's some learning, like some learning that will help them with how a number line can be beneficial.
I'm picturing the area model and array and the distributive property and partial products, partial quotient, or strategies. Do those things explicitly come out of my curriculum or are these things that maybe I want to try to help highlight, as you mentioned, maybe educators don't know that they want to know these things, but maybe you can help them to bump into this need for exploring those models to see that, you know what, the reason it's so connected is because of these things and help them through doing the math.
So, I'm extremely excited for the work that you're doing moving forward. And I feel like as you continue using this strategy of not moving too fast too soon, of building those relationships and that trust really, that relational trust that Jim Strachan talks about in his mentorship work here in Ontario. As you build that relational trust, those educators are going to want to continue doing that work with you.
So, I'm super excited for you. Jon, any last questions here for Laura before we start to wrap the show?
Jon Orr: Yeah. I actually have one last question, but I echo your excitement, Kyle, for Laura's work that's coming ahead of her. But Laura, if you could leave one big takeaway for our listeners here on your journey. I'm thinking back, this is our three-episode relationship here with you is we interviewed you as a teacher, we dove through a struggle you had way back in episode 46. You then took the bull by the horns there. You started your own podcast.
Episode 93, we came back here and chatted more about the coaching aspect and lesson study. And now, we're talking about helping teachers with standards and some of your next moves. But, hey, what would be a big takeaway you'd want listeners here to leave from your experience?
Laura Thomas: I think the biggest takeaway besides the fact that we have a lot of learning ahead of us, which we always do, is to not be afraid of the learning. We need to dive in and actually do the learning. And if I can give it to them in bite-size chunks, I think that will be less scary than seeing the whole, which is funny because I'm a hold-apart person. So, I will take the lead and look at the whole thing. And then, I think the biggest takeaway for me is to give it to them in the bite-size chunks, unless they're a hold apart learner too, then they can go on the hold apart learning journey with me.
Kyle Pearce: I love it. And you know what? I really think your personality, your approach is great for this role, because the reality is you have the gift of coming to the table and not coming with this feeling like you have all the answers. So, that's something that I think will continue to serve you really well as you dive into this work, sitting down with educators and co-learning with them. Truly co-learning with them, I think is something that educators appreciate so much.
And it really does, I think expedite that trust building and just that ability for people to be open with you and comfortable with you so that they can truly engage in thinking instead of maybe having that cloudiness in their mind, if they're always worried about the next thing they say that they might be judged or they might be exposed that they don't have the expertise that maybe they would like to have. So, I think your work is great. Your podcast is awesome.
Can you let everybody know where can they find you in your podcast? And anything else that you'd like to share, be it social or website links. And we'll add those to the show notes as well.
Laura Thomas: Okay. So, you can find us, myself, and my friend Karina @learningthroughmath.com. And we found out that you can't have that many letters on Twitter for a Twitter handle. So, our Twitter handle for the two of us is @LauraAndKarina. That's easy to remember. My personal one is @iteachthewhy, W-H-Y at the end there.
And that's about it. I think we've morphed into a podcast with a side note of book clubs, because this is our fourth book club that we've done. We did Building Thinking Classrooms last summer. We did Mathematical Mindsets, Jo Boaler's in the fall.
We did the Writing on the Classroom Wall, Steve Wyborney in the spring. And now, we're doing Figuring Out Fluency in the summer. So, we're podcast slash book club.
Kyle Pearce: Great. I love it.
Jon Orr: Awesome stuff. Thanks so much, Laura, for joining us here on this episode and we can't wait for the fourth time.
Laura Thomas: Thank you again for having me. This has been so much fun. And you're going to have to come and be guests on our podcast.
Kyle Pearce: You let us know, my friend.
Jon Orr: Anytime.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah. We are around and always eager to talk some math, especially with awesome math friends like you. So, thank you. And definitely let Karina know that we thank her for her work as well. And we will see you sometime soon, hopefully at a face-to-face conference soon.
Laura Thomas: Yes. And get those hugs.
Kyle Pearce: All right.
Jon Orr: Take care.
Kyle Pearce: Have a good one, my friend.
Laura Thomas: You too.
Kyle Pearce: Well, as always Math Moment Makers, we always mention how much we're learning through every conversation. Today, we talked about a number of different things, how the pandemic influenced, how Laura is approaching her coaching role, also, where she might start thinking about helping educators who are definitely going to have those new standards or as we call them in Ontario, new curriculum in place this coming school year.
So, hopefully for you, whether you're in a coaching role or a mentoring role of some type, or maybe you're in the classroom, the reality is that in education, we are working with so many other individuals and we have the opportunity to influence and impact them regardless of your role. So, hopefully, you took some of these ideas from this lesson, and there was something of value there that you want to hang onto or you want to implement.
So, my question to you is how are you going to do that? Are you going to write it down? Are you going to share it on social media? Are you going to call a friend, maybe get together with them for a walk or something? Right now, it's summer break as we're recording this. So, make sure you do something that's going to help you tell your brain that you want to hang onto these ideas and you actually want to put them into place.
So, do so by hitting social media, one way you can do that is by going to Make Math Moments on all social media platforms. Leave us a comment there or a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, always goes a long way.
Jon Orr: And if this is your first few times listening to this podcast, you want to know that on a regular basis, we talk with teachers just like you, who are going through problems of practice. We call them our Math Mentoring episodes. And we want to invite you to join us to have a discussion on what you're working through in your classroom. You can apply over at makemathmoments.com/mentor. All that is just filling out a form and telling us a little bit about your struggle. And then, we'll set up an appointment just to chat and we'll hit the record button to walk through problems of practice.
Because if you're having this problem of practice right now that pebble that you can't just dislodge from your shoe, I'm sure there are many, many listeners that are going through that same struggle. So, let's chat about it so that we can help all of us at the same time. Again, head on over to makemathmoments.com/mentor so that you can fill out that form. And that's how we get to have episodes just like this.
Kyle Pearce: Awesome stuff, friends. And remember on our website, we have show notes, links to resources, complete transcripts over at makemathmoments.com/episode195. Again, makemathmoments.com/episode195. And remember there's all other goodies on the makemathmoments.com website.
So, if you haven't taken a look around, make sure you do, because I'm sure you're going to bump into something that you're going to find valuable. Well, Math Moment Maker friends, until next time. I'm Kyle Pearce.
Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr.
Kyle Pearce: High fives for us, and a high five for you.
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