Episode 216: How To Sow, Cultivate and Foster Your Math Professional Learning Plan

Jan 16, 2023 | Podcast | 0 comments



In this episode we’ll share why we believe that an effective mathematics program must be cultivated and fostered like a strong, healthy and balanced tree

Most school districts that are underperforming in math are most likely impoverished in at least one of the 6 areas we’ll discuss in this episode. 

Stick around to learn how you can build your healthy tree so it stretches far, wide, and produces quality fruit and seeds that will strengthen the next generation.

You’ll Learn

  • How to identify the areas to improve in your school district to strengthen your math program; 
  • What areas should you focus on next to obtain improved results in your math program; 
  • What first step you can take to put your school/team/district on the right path towards achieving success. 


Take the Make Math Moments District Assessment 

The Make Math Moments District Planning Workbook [First 3 pages] 

Learn About Our District Improvement Program


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 us!

Other Useful Resources and Supports: 

Make Math Moments Framework [Blog Article]

Make Math Moments Problem-Based Lessons & Units

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!


Kyle Pearce: In this episode, we'll share why we believe that an effective mathematics program must be cultivated and fostered like a strong, healthy, and balanced tree.

Jon Orr: Most school districts that are underperforming in math are most likely impoverished in at least one of the six areas we're going to discuss in this episode. So stick around and learn how you can build your healthy tree so it stretches far, wide, and produces quality fruit and seeds that will strengthen the next generation of students.

Kyle Pearce: Here we go. Welcome to the Making Math Moments at Matter podcast. I'm Kyle Pearce.

Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr. We are from makemathmoments.com.

Kyle Pearce: And together with you, the community of math moment makers worldwide who want to build and deliver problem-based math lessons that spark curiosity, fuel sense making, and ignite your teacher moves. Welcome my friends. We are so excited to dig into another episode of the podcast. And this time, Jon, we're going to be continuing our discussion from just two episodes ago back in 2014, if you haven't listened to that episode.

Jon Orr: 2014? Oh my gosh. Talk nine years ago.

Kyle Pearce: No, 214.

Jon Orr: Oh, okay, good.

Kyle Pearce: Where it was our first episode of 2023, and we chatted about why New Year's resolutions fail, and what we can learn from them so that we can be more successful when setting our own goals. And we started to bridge that conversation to more collaborative goals in terms of our district leads, our schools, our departments, even our grade level teams. So we're going to be digging in here and chatting about how we might be able to help you start on that journey with your colleagues.

Jon Orr: Yeah. And the fact that we talked about goals two episodes ago to kick off the new year is actually just one of the areas that say sometimes when a district or a school is not performing the way that they think they are in mathematics, or if you're not achieving the results that you're setting for yourself in your school or that district, if you're a district leader, then setting goals is one of say six places that you at least need improvement on. And that's what we do in the Make Math Moments District Improvement Program, when we work with districts on what are the ways that we can improve our district program so that we can achieve the results we're looking for?
And in this episode, we're going to talk about all six of those, which includes also goal setting and that one type. But we're also going to look at it as one of our core beliefs. One of our core beliefs here at Make Math Moments is to view these six areas like an analogy of growing, healthy, and balanced tree.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah, Jon. So we have really loved this analogy. You and I are all about finding structures and meaningful ways to really have something to peg our ideas to. So for example, for those who have been around for a while, you'll know that our three-part framework is all about that. It's about taking a problem-based math lesson, really trying to look at it in sections, so that we can dig in and make smaller goals.
In our last episode, we talked about these larger objectives and then we talked about those key outcomes that we're looking for. And in reality, there's a lot of in between. And when it comes to district planning, or school-based planning, or even just team planning for your math goals, there is a lot to it. And we feel like how a tree is actually constructed to be strong, to be balanced, to be just essentially overarching, and beneficial, and healthy, is a great way for us to break down some of the pieces of an effective mathematics program.
So we're going to be breaking this down in chunks here. We're going to start with the trunk, as I've mentioned. And we're going to be talking about the importance in what in our planning is related to the trunk. The roots of the system. Really important for a tree to be healthy, to be balanced, to be nourished. We're going to talk about soil, water, and sunlight. The limbs of the tree. These are the larger, larger branches of the tree, the ones that are more structurally sound than say the little branches. And then we're going to be talking about the leaves to fill out the canopy.
So we've got sections of a tree. And really what we want you thinking about, especially if you're commuting to work, or you're on that run, or you're doing the dishes, is just kind of going with us on this journey, and then visualizing that tree.
For those of you who are on YouTube with us, you'll see we've got an image of a tree here. And Jon, why don't we start with what we think is... And let's be clear. All these pieces are important. They all depend on one another. So it's hard for us to say it's not like you have to build the trunk first and then worry about the roots, or then build the trunk and then worry about... Really all of these things are growing together, but we're going to chop them up and chat about them in terms of how and what will be connected to each of those pieces. So get us going here with the trunk. What are we representing when we look at the trunk of the tree?

Jon Orr: Yeah. The trunk for us is leadership. And this kind of goes back to the last episode, because we talked about setting goals in that last episode. And this is where we work with the leadership. When we work with districts on improving their math program, we spend a good chunk of time understanding how the leadership functions in goal setting. And we have a number of activities that we put our leadership teams through so that they are setting those objectives and trying to list the key results, so that we can hit the goals that we're setting for this year.
And how do we do that? How do we structure that? Because the trunk represents this leadership. Because without that strong and capable leaders, nobody knows the vision of the district or why it's important to make that vision a reality. If we don't know these things, then the leaves fall off, or all of a sudden branches aren't as healthy anymore. All the other pieces of the tree are not as strong without that strong leadership.
So when we work with districts to help improve the trunk or their leadership, we often kind of go through some questions like, "How often are we communicating are goals. Have we set goals this year? What do those goals look like? How specific are they? How attainable are they? Are they measurable?" We help districts kind of do all of that, just like we talked about in the last episode.
So if you haven't listened to the last episode, this will be a great opportunity actually to hit pause right now on this one and go listen to the last episode, because that's where we give a ton of value in the sense of how to set good goals for yourself and for your district, so that you can achieve the results. Because that's what we do when we helped schools, and teams, and districts improve the trunk of their tree.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. And something I like to kind of envision too. So you've got this tree. I think we all look at it as this massive tree already. And even the image that's up on YouTube right now, you'll see it's a fully developed tree. The reality is that for many of us, our tree is not fully developed yet. So it's probably more of a growing sapling where that trunk is there.
And I think for our leaders who are listening, keep in mind that just because you don't have that solid plan yet, that doesn't make you any less of a leader. What makes you a great leader is that you know it's important and you know it's something that we need to work on. And I'd like you to envision that tree and maybe envision your plan, whether it be across a school, maybe a grade level team, or maybe it's district wide. And picture, what stage do you feel your tree is at now?
So visualize that. Is it a healthy tree? Is it wilting away? And maybe this might change as you hear the different parts of the tree that we reference. Maybe you'll realize, "Maybe parts of my tree are actually not as healthy as I may have anticipated."
But what I want you to picture right now is that with many of the districts that we work with, and this is not a judgment. It's just a reality of where we are. This is hard work to do something over a long period of time, like a district improvement program. What we find is that the tree is actually in very early development stages. And really, what our team tries to do is we actually act like the stake. So if you've ever planted a tree, you're going to put that stake in the ground. It's going to be probably one of those metal or iron poles that gets in there. And it's nice and strong, because we want that tree to be tied to that stake so there's support. And that's what you're picturing right there, is you're picturing this trunk growing upwards, straight, and strong right next to that stake. It's not the stake doing all the work. The tree's still doing the work, but the stake's there to guide and support along the way. And that's what we envision when we begin working with our districts.
Now as that work is happening, keeping in mind we can't just focus on leadership, leadership, leadership, leadership. We have to start thinking about, "Okay, what is going to actually support the leadership team? What is going to support our work?" And this is where we're going to go. Again, not hierarchical here. But I think the next piece that's really important for us to discuss and to really understand as district leaders are the roots of this tree, because they're a little harder to see. They're under the ground. And with some trees, I'm sure many know is those roots actually span for some even miles, right? There's miles of roots under there, and they're actually spreading across large distances. They're digging and trying to find where is that water, where are those nutrients? And how can I essentially grab on to ensure that I'm supporting the weight of that tree as it continues to grow?
So in the math world and in the district improvement program world, we like to think of the roots as math content knowledge, and what it means to be mathematically proficient. We feel like those are really core understandings, things that we need in our root system that aren't always obvious. So some of the questions we might ask some of our district leaders are, "What does it mean to be mathematically proficient in your mind?" And I'm talking straight up Jon, if you are the superintendent, what does it mean to you?
And then the question we often ask is, if you were to ask another person on your leadership team what it means to them, would it sound the same or would it sound different? Would it be similar, or very far apart? And then as we move out from that team and we start asking educators across your system, what are they going to say? When we ask students across your system, parents, trustees, what are they going to say when we say mathematical proficiency? So when we think of the objectives of our work that we're going to do as a district, we really have to be thinking about what are those roots?
And then once you've landed on what mathematical proficiency means to everyone in the district, and we work to spread that message as a leadership team, we then also have to do the digging into the content knowledge. And the reality is when you go down that rabbit hole, you realize pretty quickly that most of us, Jon and I included, are not actually at the level of content knowledge proficiency that we would like to be at in order to do the work of helping more students become mathematically proficient. So it's ugly, it's dirty. The roots are dirty, it's underground, it's mucky. But that work is so important if you want to make a true difference in a school or in a district, that we deal with the roots, and that we ensure that the roots are getting the water and the nourishment that they need.

Jon Orr: And we're working with the district in the beginning stages of their improvement program, and we ask that question about their math content knowledge. We said, "If you think about your Algebra 1 teachers right now, and you think, how much do you feel like they know their content knowledge at a conceptual level?" And the district leaders we were working with could say on a procedural level, they're thinking that their teachers are proficient. They understand how to teach mathematics. But I think they were seriously considering whether those teachers understood at a conceptual level or could teach it at a conceptual level. Thinking about what models can be used to demonstrate these ideas, or how these pieces fit together, or what strategies are most appropriate, that are vertical strategies versus horizontal strategies.
So we ask our districts these questions and then we can help them realize that these are the roots that need to be fixed. We need to start here. We have to build up that content knowledge at that conceptual level, so that we can proceed the procedural fluency that most people think of when they think of content knowledge and understanding mathematics. So we spend time understanding, "Is this an area that we need to fix at your district?" And oftentimes, like Kyle said, we do. We have to spend time on fixing the roots or helping strengthen the roots, so that we can then keep that tree growing healthy and strong.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. I love it, Jon. And so that work just like a tree, more roots are being grown each and every single day. It's a slow process, but it's a really important process. Because as we do more growing up top, we need to be doing growing underneath the ground as well.

Jon Orr: And the trunk has to grow as well at the same time. So like you said before, the tree doesn't move. But all these things are growing at the same time.

Kyle Pearce: Exactly. So we have to always keep that in mind. I think in human world, we want to do one thing at a time. We want to stay organized. Okay, we're going to focus on this. And that's all we're going to do. And sometimes it's worth starting there, but you have to be aware of the other parts. Because again, if we try to go really hard here and then you start hitting a wall, you go, "Geez, I'm having a hard time growing these roots." The reality might be is that maybe the roots aren't growing because there's not enough to support on the top. So the roots aren't growing because you don't need it yet. We don't need to grow those roots. We need to grow something else over here. And then we have to be able to zoom out on that tree and go, "Okay, where does the tree need the most attention?"
And the next part that we'll share here is a part that again, is a little harder to see on the tree. Because I don't know, again. Picture that tree in your head. If it's a nice, healthy, balanced tree, you're looking at it and you're going, "Wow, this tree is really flourishing." There's some other parts. You don't see the roots. You don't understand that root system and how healthy that is.
And then another thing you may not notice or may not see is the soil, the water, the sunlight. These are the conditions that allow the tree to grow. It's what it needs to nourish itself. And we like to think of this as the educator, mindset, and beliefs. So not completely different than the roots.
Because once again, if we go back to the roots and we think about, "Wait a second, mathematical proficiency. We're talking about what does it mean to be mathematically proficient? Do teachers in my district think knowing math facts is being proficient, or are there other things that matter there?"
And the same is true up here when we start talking about the mindset and beliefs. Do our educators actually have the belief that all students can achieve in mathematics at high levels? So this is where pieces like the mindset, the belief, having your non-threatening classroom environment, how students feel in your classroom. Do they feel like it's psychologically safe? Is it equitable? Can I as a student, do I feel like I'm going to be able to access math learning when I enter that room? Or do I feel like it's actually a club, and only some of those kids are going to access it?
Is it culturally responsible? Culturally responsive is what I mean to say. Do I see myself in what we're doing in the classroom? And these are things that are again, a little bit harder to see on the surface. Just like soil, water, and sunlight might not be visible. But you can tell when you look at that tree, whether they've had an adequate amount of soil, water, and sunlight. Just like a strong math program, you can tell that it's had a strong or an adequate amount of this mindset, the beliefs, and the conditions in which students are experiencing math learning in the classroom.

Jon Orr: And we know this is an area that has to be addressed if we're going to grow that program, because we knew it ourselves. We know that when we reflect back on our own classrooms, that things didn't change until we had a mindset change ourself, which can be sparked by outside influence, can be sparked by inside influence. Thinking about your own students and how they are psychologically, or do they feel psychologically safe? Like Kyle said just a moment ago. Our teaching philosophies have changed because of things that we went through in our classrooms to go, "You know what? That's important. That needs to be addressed now, so that these things that I'm looking for in my classroom. My engagement level, the discussion, the deep learning that's happening, can't get to where we want it to go until this soil has been enriched and it has what it needs. So that we can strengthen these other areas as well."
We had to make changes in how we viewed students' cultural backgrounds, and how we viewed everyone's coming from a different place, and how we can make students psychologically safe when they enter the room, and valued, and their voices valued. So we talk a lot about that, how we start the school year in thinking about what needs to happen to create these environments that our students want to exist in. And how could they can think of themselves in this mathematical space, and where they fit in.
So the soil, super important to make that tree grow. And I'm going to argue Kyle, that the leaves, which we're going to get to in a minute. I'll let you think about what the leaves might be, but when the leaves fall down, they also strengthen the soil. They give the soil some nutrients backwards. And the leaves, which we'll visit in just a moment, help that cycle continue. And I think that can be super important for us to focus on and make sure that we spend time there. So that's why we've included it in one of the six areas.
Now Kyle, I think the limbs is another area which is where we know that districts need support in, and we assess whether they need support in those areas. And the limbs themselves are the larger, you'd think they're called branches, but we separate-

Kyle Pearce: They're mini trunks.

Jon Orr: Yeah. They're like the big trunks that kind of branch off, even though I just used the word branch, because we're going to use branches in another one. But the limbs, the larger branches are our professional development structures. These are the questions like what does our professional development structure look like right now? How does coaching work in our district? Is there any coaching? What are the models that we've used in professional development structures in the past? How do we view professional development? Are we just bringing a whole bunch of speakers and do a one and done? Are we providing support in an ongoing way with our district? What does that look like? That structure is super important when creating this strong and healthy tree.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. I love it. And interestingly enough, it's like most schools and districts already have some sort of professional development structure that happens. It's like it's always been there. So a new principal comes in and it's sort of like, "Okay, we'll just keep doing it." It's like the structure's there, but what isn't there? It's almost like you're trying to hold limbs up, but there's no trunk, there's no roots. And it's sort of like they just crumble to the ground. They're very heavy. They're not going to just float up there.
So really what we have to think back to is think about what we discussed with the trunk, with the roots, with the soil, with the sunlight, with the water. Those pieces, those elements, those are necessary in order to do good things in the math classroom, in order to develop that math program. And the limbs are going to be how you get everyone shifting in that direction.
So here's the challenge. As a district, we often start. And Jon, we were just on a call with a district the other day. This district had a PD session coming up. So they're like, "Listen, we have our limb. We are not exactly sure what we're going to send through this limb." But they didn't really have an understanding of the beliefs, of the mindsets, of where educators are in that journey. They might have had a little bit of an understanding, but did they have clarity across the district as to, "Okay, we know we don't want educators thinking this way or doing this." A lot of districts will say, "We don't want them just teaching procedures." And you're like, "Great. That's a great first start." We know that a lot of teachers are. But if we ask all the other leaders in the district, are they recognizing the same thing? And is that all there is to it? Is it just we want to stop focusing primarily on procedures, or is that only part of the problem?
So really what we need to do is all of that work in order for us to now start working and using these limbs, growing these limbs, these structures. So that we can share the learning that we want to get to the objectives that we want our leaders and our educators across the system to start to see. So like Jon said, logistics, the planning, the delivery, all of those things are really important in this stage. But what we find is that a lot of districts already have logistics down. They might even have how the delivery's going to happen. But the what we are going to deliver is sort of hit and miss. And like we discussed in the last episode, if it isn't clear what we're trying to achieve here, that it's actually connected to a greater plan, to a tree, and isn't just a single limb that's leading to a couple branches that are not connected to the greater goal. Then it's going to be all for not.

Jon Orr: So if your professional learning team isn't inviting your teachers of mathematics into this meaningful story, you're not going to be able to support that work over the long term and create that momentum.
So we've got two more, Kyle. We've got six to talk about. We've talked about four already. We just talked about the limbs, we talked about the soil, we talked about the roots, we talked about the trunk. Our fifth here is all about the branches. And the branches, which are standing from the limbs, are all about the mathematical and content knowledge of the teachers. This is us understanding the teacher moves. These elements that we think about in our classroom on a regular basis is actually a piece of our Make Math Moments three-part framework. What are the teacher moves that we need to think about to push our students to where we want them to go?
So that's an important piece. We do work with our districts, and you want to ask questions. What type of questioning is happening in here? I would say Kyle, that our assessment policies might be happening in here. What does our classroom outlines or structures look like in the room? These are the things that we want to talk about when we talk about strengthening the branches of a tree.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. I love it. And really, the reason why we've kind of again, taken these important parts of the tree, and we've kind of put them as branches. Not because branches are any less important than those limbs, those strong PD structures. It's almost like that is what happens when you have effective professional learning is that you build lots of strong branches. And what you'll see in many schools and many districts is you'll see what researchers call this pocket of effective instruction.
And let's say you walk down the hall and you're like, "Wow. In that room, things are rocking over here. They're doing a great job." But guess what? It may not been the PD structure that helped them get there. That might just be a go-getter teacher, or someone who's spent a lot of time reading on their own, or had experiences. And they've come in and they're doing all these great things.
The challenge is though, just like on a tree if there's only a couple different branches, is that it's not going to lead to a nice, full, well-flourished tree. And the same is true for students. So if you think about a student who goes into their grade one experience and they get a really, really great, effective math experience. And it works well for that student, it meets the needs of those students. And then they go into grade two and maybe things aren't really working so hot, and they go into grade three and maybe there was not working so hot. And then grade four again, they get this really effective math program.
What ends up happening is the result for that student actually isn't going to be all that different than if they just had that so so math experience the whole way through. So when we're looking at this, what we want is we need all of those branches to be developed. We need all of these ideas to be building and growing over time. So that all classrooms, we're not having these little pockets of success. We're actually having wide success, widespread success across schools, across your entire district. And that is what's going to lead us to a greater level of student success in the end.
So leveraging a three-part framework like ours, the three-part math framework, that's great. But I'm going to argue that a teacher that does that well and only that well might have left some of the other things out. It's not a one and done sort of experience. So this is why we call the branches the math pedagogical content knowledge.
Now that's a little confusing. It's like a hyphenated word. We already talked about content knowledge in the roots. The pedagogical content knowledge is knowing where students are coming from, and understanding how the mathematics progresses, which is part of the content knowledge. But I have to also know how to help students get there. That's the pedagogical piece. So the content's important, but the pedagogy's important too. Because I could have a doctorate in math development. But if I don't have the pedagogical moves to welcome more students to that learning, to my learning story, then I am not going to be developing all of those branches like we're envisioning on this nice, healthy, nourished tree.

Jon Orr: Perfect Kyle. You've summed up the branches quite nicely. And that brings us to the leaves, which is the piece of the tree that probably is most visible, right Kyle? The leaves of the tree are when we walk in as leaders into our classrooms, we're seeing. This is feel it also.

Kyle Pearce: There's something there. You can almost smell it. Maybe not in the classroom, but a good tree you can smell, right?

Jon Orr: Exactly. Exactly. So this is our resources, our lessons, our tools in our classroom environment. This is what's happening in our rooms on a day-to-day basis. And what we want to do is, how is that looking? We ask the districts we work with, what resources are we using? Is it a free for all? Can anyone pick any of the resources that they're using in their classroom? Those resources help support the branches. The use of those branches, like our pedagogical content knowledge. Are we utilizing that in the resources that we're using in our classrooms?
Are we also building up our soil? This is that part I was talking about when the leaves fall down. When the lessons we're using in our classroom help to create the soil, then we create that cycle. We've got a great lesson that helps make our students feel psychologically safe, and makes them feel like the lessons are culturally relevant. The students are seeing themselves in mathematics. It's the lessons that we're using and the resources in our classrooms that help create that with that pedagogical content knowledge. But that cycles back. So when it comes down to the soil, it builds that up. And then we can do more of that with our lessons and our resources.
So we want to make sure that the leaves are strong. How can we change our resources? We use our problem-based lessons on our website to spark that curiosity so that we can fuel the sense-making in our students and help them develop their own content knowledge at a deeper level. So we have to think very carefully about those resources that we're using in our classrooms, so that we can make that tree strong.

Kyle Pearce: I love it, Jon. I love the visual as well. And if we go back to again, almost that consistency and continuing to grow all parts of the tree. So for example, if we do things in pockets. So if I do one problem-based lesson every week and I grow that little leave over here, it's like I have less nourishment hitting the soil and building back into the tree. It's that effect.
And then if it's only happening in some classrooms, this effective teaching, it's like there's not that many leaves on the tree yet. So those leaves that fall in the fall, there's not enough nutrition to go back into the ground and sort of keep that cycle going. So I really like that vision.
And again, it might start that way. So you have to also envision your tree, there's going to be areas of that tree that are malnourished right now. And maybe it's all areas. And what we try to do with districts is we try to help you get started in an area. We can't do it all at once, but we try to get you started in an area that might make sense as a starting point. But then we sort of ebb and flow. We sort of zoom in and we zoom out. We try to look at the entire tree and go, "Okay, let's start here and let's make sure we get some momentum going there, we get some growth going there." And then we zoom out.
And then eventually, eventually, a perfect world, that tree trunk, the balance of the tree, the nourishment of the tree, the health of the tree is so strong, that we can take that stake out. And now that tree is on its own, and maybe it only requires a little bit of pruning here and there. And that might be where less often, we come in and we go, "Okay, you know what? This branch over here or this limb over here, it's kind of offsetting the tree. Maybe we're going to cut that one back a little bit, and we're going to allow for more growth over here." And that might be maybe you're trying to do problem-based lessons every single day, and you're not leaving any time for purposeful practice. Maybe we trim that back and we let this side grow. Because again, the balance of the tree is going to be really critical and really important.
And ultimately, at the end of the day, what we are trying to do when we look at the objective of all the work we do in math education is to get the fruit of this tree to grow, and to grow as much of it as we possibly can. And in our mind, that is students being mathematically proficient. And when they, by our definition and by the National Research Council's definition for the five mathematical proficiencies, we aren't just saying kids know their math facts. We're saying that they have conceptual understanding, that they have procedural fluency, that they have adaptive reasoning, that they have strategic competence.
And this last one, which I think is one of the most important. Because if this one does not develop, then I don't think students are mathematically proficient. It's when they feel that productive disposition towards mathematics. When they can see themselves as a math doer and learner, and they see that there's a value in the work that we've done here, and it isn't just a set of rules to memorize, or it isn't just answering problems and coming up with the right answer. We're talking about true mathematical proficiency.
And for us, and I'm going to argue probably for all the districts we discuss, we eventually get to there and we go, "Wow, that is what we want." And we need support in order to get there. So that's where we go, "You know what? Let us help you." We're going to take that steak. We're going to pound it in the ground next to whatever the tree is right now. Maybe different parts are growing at different rates. We're going to try to get this tree going, and to try to make this tree as self-sufficient as possible so that it can grow strong, healthy, and balanced.
And that my friends, is the work that we're trying to do here through our district improvement program. But then also in reality, it's the work we try to do with every single educator, every math moment maker out there. You have your own tree, right? Your tree is just relative to your world. And if you're that educator listening right now, envision your math classroom as your tree. How's it going? What does that look like? And maybe start to reflect on what areas of your tree that you want to start working on individually as well.

Jon Orr: Yeah, Kyle. That makes a lot of sense. And if you think about everything that we've done so far, I think Make Math Moments has been to strengthen the tree. All the episodes that we've put out in the past, each one of those could be slotted into one of these six areas to improve your classroom, your team, your program. All of these sessions at all of our four virtual summits over the last four years also would fit into one of these categories to help strengthen your mathematics program. So if your team, or your school, or your district is not achieving the results that it wants, then we know from our experience with working with districts, but also from our own classrooms, that we're floundering in at least one of these six areas. So just as a quick overview here, the trunk of the tree is your leadership. This is your vision setting, your backbone.
The roots of the tree is your mathematics and content knowledge, and what it means to be mathematically proficient. The soil, and the water, and the sunlight is our educator mindsets and beliefs. The limbs of the tree is our professional development structure. The branches of the tree are the mathematics pedagogical and content knowledge of our educators and our students as well as in there. The leaves of the tree are the resources, the tools, the classroom environment, our lessons, our units that's happening in our classroom. And all that, like Kyle said, is to obtain this great objective of producing fruits and seeds that help make the next generation stronger.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. Jon, this has been an awesome chat. I've had a blast working with you and our team trying to essentially take all of this work that goes into an effective math classroom and an effective math program as a school or a district, and trying to sort of organize it into these different sections. Hopefully you friends at home feel that this is helpful for you to get grounded in this work and sort of zoom in on a part of that tree. What part of the tree? I'd love to hear it in the comments section, maybe in the ratings and review section of Apple Podcasts, or Spotify, or whatever platform you're listening on. Or if you're watching on YouTube right now, let us know in the comments. What part of the tree do you feel is most well-nourished? And then start thinking about what part of the tree do you think that maybe you want to start thinking about a little bit more here as we enter into a new calendar year. But continue through our current school year, at least here in North America, where we're just over the halfway point in the school year. We love, love to hear your feedback. And we look forward to reading it real soon.

Jon Orr: And if you want a free assessment of your District Tree and your district program, you can head on over to makemathmoments.com/district. From there, you will see how you can access our assessment, which gives you a report on which of the six you're doing well at, which of the six areas of the tree that you might need some support or strategies in. And that report will also give you your next steps, what you can do to strengthen those areas up in your district, or with your team, or with your school. So again, head on over to makemathmoments.com/district. Take that free assessment, and you'll be on your way to strengthening your tree.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. I love it. Friends, all of our show notes and our resources, including the link to our district improvement program assessment that Jon just shared are on the show notes page over at makemathmoments.com/216. That's right, at makemathmoments.com/216. Well, my friends. Until next time, I'm Kyle Pearce.

Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr.

Kyle Pearce: High fives for us, and high five for you.

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