Episode #224: Kids Are Different Now (…And What to Do About It)

Mar 13, 2023 | Podcast | 0 comments



Do you feel that students are “different” compared to past years? Has it been a struggle to gain student attention and strengthen their work ethic? Are some of the behaviours you’re experiencing amplified? 

In this episode Kyle and Jon discuss their interpretation of the differences teachers are experiencing in their students and how you can use those differences to create a stronger mathematics program. 

Stick around and you’ll learn how to strengthen and align your classroom norms / rules so that students will flourish. 

Classroom Pillars are one (1) of the six (6) areas of every strong mathematics program.

You’ll Learn

  • Why students may seem different now than in past years; 
  • What you can do in your classroom to align students to common goals;
  • How to create your classroom pillars and why you need them; and, 
  • How to help key stakeholders understand your classroom values. 


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District Leader Resources:

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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: 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.

Kyle Pearce: This is the only podcast that coaches you through a six-step plan to grow your mathematics program, whether at the classroom level or at the district level.

Jon Orr: And we do that by helping you cultivate and foster your mathematics program like a strong, healthy, and balanced tree.

Kyle Pearce: If you master the six parts of an effective mathematics program, the impact of your math program will grow and reach far and wide.

Jon Orr: Every week, you'll get the insight you need to stop feeling overwhelmed, gain back your confidence, and get back to enjoying the planning and facilitating of your mathematics program for the students or the educators you serve.

Kyle Pearce: All right there. Hey Jon, that felt kind of weird doing that intro. It's a brand new introduction because lately we've been digging in not only with district leaders but also classroom educators around their entire math program. Our old introduction, when we began this program, was all about running a specific problem-based math lesson. So the three-part framework for the Make Math Moments Podcast and for our three-part framework for teaching curious and sense-making lessons, that's still a part of this work, but now we've expanded to try to include the other aspects of an effective math program.

Jon Orr: Yeah. And like what you just said, Kyle, is that we think the three-part framework was one aspect of the six parts of effective math programs. We talked about that a couple episodes ago when we talked about how the tree is a great metaphor for the six parts of a balanced mathematics program. And we're going to dive into an issue that we've been hearing from lunchroom tables, across social media, on some of the groups that we're involved in when we chat with educators, and that has to deal with one or maybe an overlap with two aspects of our strong mathematics programs and specifically the trunk of the program and also the trunk of the tree, but also maybe the soil of the tree as well.
So that kind of issue that we're hearing right now is this common problem of, and I think most generations go through this problem, is that teachers will often say that the kids are not the same. And I think we're feeling that right now in our classrooms and like I said, on our lunchroom tables, at our staff rooms, that teachers are feeling like something is different, something has changed here. And I think there's a lot of speculation around where that change may have come from. Is it COVID? Is it a change of the kids themselves? Is it social media that's affected our kids? There's a lot of theories floating around here that can or cannot be true or may or may not be true. I think there is a valid concern that teachers feel like something's different here. And in this episode, we want to talk about how to think about those changes that you may be feeling and then also how to address it in your classroom so that you can grow your tree strong and wide.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. I love it, Jon. Exactly. So one of the big pieces here is that even though for so many years we've been advocating on how to teach a problem-based math lesson, the reality is, before we can actually do that, we have to sort of zoom out and look at other aspects of our math program. And you've articulated it well, we're looking at, who are the students that we're actually teaching and are they actually different? And I would argue that they are, right? I mean they've had a very different experience than we had even Jon and I, I don't want to give away our age here-

Jon Orr: We're old now, Kyle, we're old.

Kyle Pearce: We're now old, considered old, but not that old. But our experience is so different than those students who are sitting in front of us. Not only did students most recently go through a pandemic, but they also pre pandemic, they also had access to things that we never had access to. We had access to over the air television. I remember Saturday morning cartoons, that's when I watched cartoons. It wasn't on demand, it wasn't any time I want. Nowadays the technology, the devices, the social media, not to mention every household has different expectations or different sort of protocols in terms of how much screen time students should have or their kids should have, should they have any? Should they have a lot? Do they have unlimited amounts?
And that's something that we can pretend is not different, or we can accept the fact that we're going to have a variety of students sitting in front of us that we now have to think about, "Hey, wait a second, we need to engage these kids." And the problem is that students have access to so many different things that engage kids in different ways. And let's be honest, a lot of these YouTube channels, TikTok, any of those social media platforms, people and the content creators on those platforms know what engages people and they know what engages students, what keeps them scrolling. So are we going to try to figure out how to engage kids in our classroom or are we just going to assume that they should look at us and they should attend to what we're trying to say in our math classrooms?

Jon Orr: I think you hit on something right there, Kyle, where you're saying that there's a wider variety. And another way to say that is there's a greater diversity in the students that we're seeing in our classrooms, their family and home life, to how they learn and how they view school and how they don't view school and what values they are coming from with home. I think that diversity has grown and that's a great thing for our society for sure in our classrooms and our students to witness that and be a part of that diversity. But I think that has maybe made our teachers and us feel like it's different. It feels like there's more need for us to make changes in our classrooms to help the students that need the most help or help students to grow, just like we want to do in our math classrooms.
I think also that might add to some of this change that we're feeling is some of the policies that have changed in classrooms, and I know that you'll hear that at the lunchroom table, some of the discipline rules that you may have started your career with or maybe you remember as a student, they're not the same anymore. You might see that a kid had done something in school that you think five, 10, maybe 20 years ago, you would've assumed they were suspended for a number of days, but now they're back in class the next day. And there's some differences there, based off that diversity that we need to work with. I think there's more of an emphasis on helping students understand and cope with situations and giving them skills to cope with certain situations rather than punishment in sending kids home.
So there's more emphasis there, which has changed some of the feeling in classrooms. I know that that disciplining, or a teacher might say, "Why is that kid back in my classroom? Now it feels like the principal or the vice principal has not supported me. They're sitting back here, but they disrespected me," and maybe we didn't have the conversation that needed to happen before that with the student, but it's feeling a little bit different. And so the teacher naturally is starting to think there's differences here amongst the kids. So there's a few things that have come out to me to cause those differences.
Another one here, Kyle, I think other than say disciplining at the system level, but also think about classroom discipline. I think, when I went to school, fear, in probably my parents or even just before my schooling experience, pain was a way to discipline kids. And we've evolved past that and I think some people are clinging to the fear aspect. We got to make sure that we do this and then this so that you don't, the fear of having a bad test or fear of me getting mad at you was a motivator and a lot of kids may have felt like that was a good motivator for them. But I think that's changed over time and it's not as prominent as it has been in the past.
And I think rightly so, right? I don't think we should be using fear as an intimidation factor to do mathematics in our classrooms. So we're changing some of these policies that kids have grown up with these changes and because they're getting to this point where students know that fear isn't going to be my motivator, they've come accustomed to that, some students I mean, and therefore that's reflected in how some teachers may have been using that as a motivator in their class and it's not working. And so now they're saying, "My kids are different," and they are different because maybe we need to change some of the practices that we're using to motivate.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah, no, totally. And something I think that's really important for us to consider too is that humans are not very good with change. The reality is when things change, it takes us a very long time to adapt. It takes us time to try to recognize the patterns, to understand what to do instead. So sometimes what might happen is, I heard you mention about this idea that, hey, when a student does something and you try to, let's say you remove them from the classroom, maybe it's because you're concerned of safety, maybe it's because the language and they just refuse to do anything that you're asking of them, so you remove them from the situation. And then maybe it feels like the administrator didn't handle it in a way that supports you as the classroom educator.
I think most of the time when those sorts of things are happening, maybe they didn't know what to do with the student at that time. They want to adapt and change, so maybe they handle the situation differently, but maybe it wasn't necessarily the best way to handle it. So really, the hard part here is that we're in this phase of trying to figure out, first I think we have to notice a name and what we're discussing right now is noticing and naming that the students in front of us are not necessarily the same students who were in front of us maybe even five years ago, but 10 years ago, 15 years ago in particular, when you and I started our journey, those are not the same students. I didn't have issues with attention and students essentially consuming content on their phones and being almost like having to compete for their attention. Right now, that's something that we are now dealing with.
We are all dealing with it, and I'm telling you, no problem-based math lesson that you create, no math lesson you create will be able to overcome the attention on their device. And I've heard some people say it before, where like, :Well, if your lesson was more interesting then maybe they'd put the device away." And I'm like, that is not the appropriate way to handle that. But there are some ways that we can handle that because the reality is we have to set up students to know and understand how some of these changes may influence who they are as people, as learners, right? As adolescents or children for some who are teaching younger students. And over time, that has implications on them in the rest of their life.
Now don't get me wrong, kids don't typically take that information when we try to give them advice as adults. They don't go like, "Oh, okay, great," and they make change, but it's the repetition of that and ensuring that this becomes what we call normal, norms, the norms in our classroom in order to try shifting things away. You had also mentioned this idea of fear and pain. Fear and pain can be kind of interpreted in multiple ways. Fear sometimes is like, I don't know what the teacher's going to do to me. Is he going to actually physically give me the strap like back in the day? Or is it fear and pain like the teacher is going to do something that's going to hurt my grades or call my parents? That could be fear and pain. Or is it like, I'm going to get a zero on this assessment or this assignment and that's going to hurt my overall grades?
So again, fear and pain are things that we tend to lean on, and I'm not suggesting that there are no consequences. That is not what we are saying here at all. It's just that we have to rethink that without having some of these, I'll call them tools, whether you agree that they were effective tools back when they were considered appropriate or the norm or not, they were tools that, as you remove those tools from the toolkit, we have to replace them with other tools and we have to think of, what are we going to do in order to try to get what we thought was a more productive outcome when we used those tools?

Jon Orr: Yeah, I think that's a great way to think about we are removing, some of these policies are helping us reshape the way that we're assessing. And when we remove that, we have to replace it with something else. For example, a teacher will say, "The kids are changing. They're not handing in their work. Work isn't coming in anymore. When we give a class an assignment, they are going to turn to their phone immediately. They're not caring about handing that work in for a grade." And our students, like I had said before, have gone through a system where maybe in the past they've also been accustomed to demonstrating their understanding in multiple ways.
For our assessment here in Ontario, in our policy document which was outlined and created in 2010, outlined that we should be using assessment with observations, with conversations, and with product to give a final grade or to influence our final grade or to influence our assessment with our students. A lot of teachers, especially in high school, are probably still relying on just product, which is one form of those ways to help students with their assessment. And that's the handing it in piece.
If kids have been grown up through growing success strategies and teachers have been using them appropriately, then there's been lots of opportunity for students to communicate their understanding through observations and conversations. And all of a sudden if you run into a teacher where that student has been used to that and all of a sudden now everything is product and they haven't been handing things in, then there's probably going to be that problem right there. The teacher's going to say, "Kids aren't handing something in," but it's partly because we should think about the ways that we are assessing. Are we assessing by observations and conversations as well as product?
So there's that part of thing where we can agree that the kids are changing and they've been accustomed to that, but that means we have to start thinking about some of the other ideas that can help them as well. And that's partly goes to thinking about our trunk of our tree and what are the things that we value in our math class? How can we structure that so that everyone's aligned and everyone has the same focus and our values as a teacher, for a student's success, is communicated to them so that we're all on the same page so that students are put in a position for success.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. I love it. And finally, the last piece, and this isn't the only changes here that we're experiencing with students, but let's be honest, through the generations, every generation experiences changes. As we evolve, as things change, we're going to experience these changes. So we're just discussing the ones that we're noticing now, but something that you may or may not have noticed sometimes is that in some places, just the overall interpretation or understanding or, I guess, the way that families are looking at education may be a little different than maybe when we were younger or maybe when our parents were younger. There was this thought that education, and still to this day in some countries, education is a privilege. And here, at least in Canada and in the United States, education is a right.
But it seems as though sometimes the thought is that that also, the pendulums shifts so far to one side where it's almost like the expectation that the teacher will this and that and the next thing, and I've heard this from educators, you and I have heard this, Jon from some of the educators that we've worked with, that they're feeling this extreme amount of pressure to essentially make sure all the students learn and it's almost like there's nobody else involved. When in reality what we need is something more in the middle. It shouldn't be everything the teacher says is correct, no matter what. There used to be a time where that was true, if the teacher said this, the parents responded. That was a mindset anyway that at least I remembered was, "Hey, teacher said this, boy, there's going to be heck to pay when you get home," type thing.
Now it's sort of shifted, at least in some cases, where it seems as though there's a lot of maybe blaming, the blame is going and the responsibility is going to the teacher. When in reality, what we need is something more in the middle. We need for everyone to take responsibility. It's not fault, but responsibility needs to be shared amongst the parents or guardians, the student, and the teacher. And obviously parents and the teacher need to work together to help the student really understand over time as they get older and work through K through 12, they have to become more and more responsible for the outcomes of the work and the learning that they're doing or not committing to doing on their end. That's our role, but the reality is that if you're seeing that or if you feel in the classroom environment you have that you're seeing that, we have to start thinking about what can we do, what could we change in order to help deal with this current thought?
So we're not saying it's good or it's bad. What we're saying is that maybe things are different. So the question then becomes, and I think this is essentially the big question of the day, is if the students we teach, if the homes they belong to, and if the classroom environment in which we are teaching are all different or they're changing, then what are we going to do differently to pivot towards these new conditions so that we can have a productive learning environment? Because the reality is, whether you like it or whether you don't, whether you agree or disagree with some of the things you're seeing, you can't control those things. But what you can control is what we do to prepare ourselves to put our students in the best, most productive learning opportunity or classroom environment as we possibly can.

Jon Orr: Yeah. And if you're a teacher, let's say I'm the teacher that says, "You know what? No, I know what's best for kids. I think my classroom should run exactly this way. I'm not going to bend to these new changes," then what we're saying is that we're dealing with it, and that's an approach we can take. But when we say we're going down that pathway, when I'm going to say like, "I'm going to stick to my guns that I've been dealing with or teaching with for the last 20 years," if we're saying yes to that approach, then what we're kind of saying is we're saying no to reaching a group of students.
Now, this group could be big, it could be small, but we're saying no to a group of students that we're not going to reach, and you might be okay with that, right? I'm sure that your administration would not be okay with that, and I don't know if we want to be okay with that. We want to make sure that we're trying to reach as many students as we can and we can make changes to our classroom to reach as many as we can, but I know that if you say, "I'm going to stick to this way. Kids are changing, but I don't want them to change, I want to force them into this mold," then you're saying no to reaching some of those students.
So if you say you are going to make some changes, then it's like, okay, what are we going to do to make some of those changes? And this comes back to the six parts of the effective mathematics program because one of those parts we call the trunk of the tree, which is all about setting the norms. You used the norms, Kyle, but we've called these, in past episodes, the pillars of our classroom. This is not at all specific to a math class. All classrooms should have pillars of their math class. And the pillars are the values that we want to share with our students on good learning habits, but also can be good characteristics of a classroom, thinking about how to help students achieve the highest levels they can.
We aren't saying, "Let's change our whole classroom to achieve low standards." We want to help our students achieve the highest standards still, but it's like, what are some of those pillars that we can create so that we can share the structures of our classroom, the choices of our classroom so that everyone's aligned? That, I think, is the most important part because when there's alignment between all key stakeholders in the way that we want to support learning, that's where most problems fall away. Most problems will fall away if we are aligned and everyone shares the same common vision. And that common vision can be just we want the best for this particular kid at this particular time. And I think if we can share those ideas and values to everybody, like I said, a lot of problems just fall away.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. And that might look and sound a little different from classroom to classroom. So I mean you have to look at yourself as an educator and you have to think of, what do I want to bring our attention back to? And the reason we say pillars is because you could really have as many or as few of them. If there's too many, then of course they're going to start forgetting what they are. But if let's say you had three to four, two to four pillars, something that when students do something in the classroom, especially if they do something that maybe doesn't align with the classroom norms, that you can ask the student, you don't have to tell them, you can ask them and say, "Does that or do you feel that that action or that word or that thing that just happened, do you feel like that fits under our classroom pillars? Does it belong there?"
And it just makes this process so much easier. And it's interesting because in the classroom when we're working with educators, and with our new educator or classroom assessment that we've put together specifically for classrooms, the assessment is different and the report is different that educators get. But when we have this conversation with district leaders, while we don't call them classroom pillars, we call the trunk of the tree leadership because the same is true there. We start to go down the path of, do all the educators in our system have a clear vision of what we're trying to achieve? Now the process might look different, but ultimately at the end of the day, Jon, when you do that in your classroom, does it serve to help us reach those goals, that trunk? Does it help to strengthen the trunk of our district program or does it maybe hinder or is it maybe neutral? It's just not helpful and maybe there's something else that could go there.
When it comes to the classroom side, there's so many different things that fit in here, but this becomes more of the relationship that you're building with the students, the classroom culture, so that all students in our classroom should know what those pillars are and what we're working towards, so that if they do do something, say something, something happens that doesn't fit within those pillars, it becomes almost self correctable. We're not saying every student's going to self correct, but it's the opportunity for them to self correct is there. And then we, as the facilitator, are trying to bring it to that student's attention and then work with them so that we can try to ensure that that issue is more of a minor issue that fades away versus something that turns into a major blowup where students are being kicked out of class and sent down to the office.

Jon Orr: I think when you create your pillars, think of your values, what do you want to hold true with you and your students with the time that you have together? One way to start this kind of thought process is to think about, in five years you meet your student in public and you ask them, "What did you learn the most in being in my classroom?" And thinking about what you want them to say can help you shape what your pillars are.
And if you structure the pillars in a certain way, they can help kind of craft what rules and what kind of norms happen in your classroom. But what they could also do is challenge existing rules and norms. You could say, "I used to do it this way, but if I want always this value to come out, then maybe this rule that I've kind of stuck to for the last little bit doesn't make sense anymore." For example, I talked about this on the podcast a number of times. Lates was a big thing for me for a long time that a kid would show up late and I would give them the stink eye. I would give them the angry face no matter what the reason was, it was late, if you were late-

Kyle Pearce: Sounds like fear and pain strategy.

Jon Orr: Right. If you were late, I was making it hard on you to come to class. And when I thought about my pillars later on and thought about some of the things I value, my pillars are, when I teach my classes, we start with introducing the pillars on the very first day because everything will stem from the pillars and the pillars that I use in my classroom are; we're striving for curiosity. So we're thinking about everything that we are going to do is we want to be curious and we go through the reasons why that's important, right? Striving for, if you learned anything on your own, it was because you were curious to do so. And curiosity is going to open our minds to being able to experience new things and new ways of doing things.
So curiosity is one of the most important things. It also fits in line with how we structure our math lessons is we want kids to be as curious as possible, so we create lessons so that students step into that curiosity. So we make that a pillar, let's make sure curiosity is upfront. I'm going to ask you to be curious all the time. All you have to do is step into that pillar and think about why that's important.
Another one is striving for creativity. In math class we've always said, the math teacher wants you to do it this way, but we know from research that students representing their thinking in multiple ways is a key to connect ideas together and we need to connect and strengthen their thinking. If we're thinking about adding fractions, we want students to be able to use different models, an area model, the number line model, maybe a set model. And so we want them to make those connections. So being creative is really important in our class and it's going to dictate how we ask questions in our class and the problems we're going to do. I'm going to ask you to model that a different way because I want to see their creativity in different ways.
Third pillar that we use is persevere to create growth. We value growth in our class, but we also know that's going to be challenging. And so creating that atmosphere of growth helps to shape some of the rules of our class, like our assessment rules, like thinking about being late, why that might conflict with my previous rule. Valuing their growth, what can I do to help them grow a little bit and then value that growth? Me preventing them from coming in the door and then stopping them and then giving them trouble just because they're late without even talking to them about the reasoning they're late, I think goes back to violating, I value your growth as a student, you should value your growth as a student. Let's make sure we welcome you in so that we can make sure that that growth happens. That rule had to change for me because I thought it violated that particular pillar.
The final one is strengthen collaboration in our class. We know that if we can talk about math in an open, safe way, then our students are going to be stronger because of it in their math ability. So we want to make sure that we are collaborating on a regular basis. We don't want students to walk out the door at the end of the year and not know five students' names after the semester of the year is over, because if that was true, they were probably held back so much of their thinking in the class because they were worried about what they might say in front of people. This is middle school, high school, students often won't raise their hand like they do in elementary school because of fear of being made fun of or looking foolish for saying the wrong thing. But if we can be collaborative and everyone feels safe, then that can create a better learning environment.
So those are the four that I used in my class, but the main point that I was trying to make here in this part is that when you create your pillars, they can go back and challenge existing rules and you should think about the rules you've set in place and how they're reflected in your pillars.

Kyle Pearce: Oh, so it's something that pops into my mind right away, Jon is, wait a second, you sir, Mr. Orr just said you want us to persevere and grow and wait a second, you just assigned me a zero over here for handing something in late. Does that fit in that pillar and that-

Jon Orr: Exactly.

Kyle Pearce: So, this is a really great activity for not just students, but again, it's important for us as well to start revisiting and essentially, maybe revisiting is the wrong word because sometimes it's just we've always done things a certain way and we actually haven't reflected on them, we haven't thought about the impact or the influence they may or may not have on learning, on students, on the classroom environment that we're creating. Another one, which is really interesting, is even just cell phone norms for your classroom, rather than what I heard you just say is, "Hey, when I come into my classroom and I have my pillars in mind," some teachers want the students to co-construct the pillars. Let's be honest, just like a great math lesson, you should know what those pillars are or what they need. Doesn't matter what they are, you can adapt. If they want to develop and call them something different, you just want to make sure that there's enough, and if they're missing one, you can add it in just like in a-

Jon Orr: Just like the lessons. Exactly. You got it.

Kyle Pearce: In that lesson I go, "Well wait a second, here's a strategy that Mr. Pearce thought of, and I want to share it with you because actually this is a strategy that I know based on what I know about math, this is going to come out later." Well, guess what? There's this pillar that I love the ones we've come up with and I want to keep each one, I'm wondering about this idea. You can give them the low hanging fruit and say, "What about this idea? Does that fit in the pillars?" And I guess another question is, is it important for us to have something that addresses it? And they go, "Ooh, it doesn't fit in one of these pillars. What's the pillar that works with this one?" And then maybe they might say, "Oh yeah, what about this idea and this idea? We need a pillar to actually help us deal with these situations. We never thought of that." Then they can create it.
If they don't, you have it in your back pocket and you're ready to go. So I'm thinking about things like on day one, rather than me saying, "Hey, cell phones, here's the rules for cell phones in our class," we can have a discussion about cell phones and say, "Okay, now that we've created these pillars, I'm wondering cell phones, where do cell phones fit here if anywhere?"
And I'm looking at one for example, and I'm saying striving for curiosity, could a cell phone help us with that? Possibly in certain cases. Could it also distract us from being curious about maybe the mathematics going on here? Ooh, okay, so that's interesting. So what are we going to do? What norm can we do here? Is it going to strengthen collaboration if we have our cell phones out or if everyone has free reins, right? And I get it. I've been there, I've tried it. I've done the whole, I want my students to develop the ability to decide when the cellphone's appropriate and when it's not. Let's be honest, kids are kids and some kids in your class might be able to control that. Other students may not. I'm an adult, a grown man, and I struggle and sometimes I have to take my phone and put it in a different place.
So if we have this conversation with our students, imagine. Now you might get a class that pushes back on that and like, "Nope, don't want to do it, blah, blah, blah." And guess what? You're still the teacher. You still might have to impose something if that doesn't go the way you thought it would. But the reality is we have to think about what are the benefits and what are the drawbacks for everything we do in our classroom? And can we land on something that students, at least initially, are agreeing to so that at least when there comes a time where there's a challenge where we can go back to what we had all agreed on and discussed in order to use that as sort of the judge? It doesn't become a me against you, it becomes a, "Yeah, I'm in the wrong right now." And that might be me as the educator sometimes, but ultimately it's building that classroom community, strengthening that trunk of your math program so that you can start looking at the other parts of the tree.

Jon Orr: You got it, Kyle. And co-creating the pillars is the recommendation that we would make. It falls into a pillar itself of thinking about the values you're trying to create in your classroom. If we think about creativity as being a pillar, then you want to make sure that you give students the opportunity to be creative, and that might allowing them to brainstorm what pillars there are is following in line with that value that you got for sure.
So as you're thinking about the trunk of the tree is creating pillars in your classroom so that everyone's aligned, and I think we've got to make sure that that's the case. So sharing the pillars and co-creating them with the students, but also sharing them with the parents, with your administrators, with that support group that you have. Like what Kyle said before is that the relationships you build amongst the students, but also with the parents and the families, we have to do this together. So once you create your pillars, you're going to want to share them with those key stakeholders so that the alignment is there, that would be the next step after those kind of pillars are created.
So that kind of strengthens the tree. And then Kyle is saying is that once the tree is strengthened, a lot of issues are going to fall away. You're probably not going to feel like as strongly that the kids are different. Once you wrap your classroom norms around those pillars and start to create lessons that fit in the pillars, create assessment policies that fit in the pillars, a lot of the issues you may have been experiencing do drop away. I know they did for me. I know that I used to struggle with behaviors in classrooms with lates, with some of these problems that you think are not you and are you going to get rid of all of them? No. But I know that a lot of them fell away once these pillars were shared amongst everybody.
And by amongst everybody, the parents do need to know that as well because then those parental interactions that may have been negative for some of you are also going to fall away because you communicated some of the key ideas.

Kyle Pearce: I love it. I love it. And so we've highlighted one of the six parts of an effective mathematics program, which again, we use this idea of a tree. So you're visualizing the trunk, you're visualizing the roots, which is the content knowledge, like the actual mathematical proficiency in our classroom of the teacher and how you're going to help them to understand how to be mathematically proficient. You're looking at the limbs, which is your math professional learning plan. This is for you as the educator to, how am I going to strengthen the branches and the leaves? Which then become the resources that we have in our classroom, the structures of how we lead our lessons and what that looks like over a five-day period or over a 10-day period? We have all of these pieces are a part of the tree, and remember the Make Math Moments three-part framework is a part of that tree, but there's so many other pieces that are important and need to be in place in order for that work to happen effectively.
So, with our assessment, our classroom math program assessment, it has been designed, it's been modified in order to provide you, educators, students, students, teachers who are teaching students in the classroom mathematics. This assessment has been revamped and revised for you to try to essentially target where are things going well in your math program and where are the next steps for you? And when we say next steps, we tend to, the assessment will give you a customized report all free and it will show you what part of the tree might be next on your hit list for trying to improve your math program. This is a journey, just like a tree never stops growing, your journey as a math educator will not stop growing, it'll only stop if you choose, right? But we want to grow the biggest, strongest, most balanced and healthy tree we possibly can so that it can reach far and wide.
So if you are interested in learning a little bit more about that, we talked today about the trunk and in the report we have some actual actionable items and next steps for those who should be focusing in on the trunk portion of their tree, their classroom pillars, you can head over to makemathmoments.com/report and that will allow you to take the 12-minute assessment. Once again, you'll get that customized report. You will get information for all six parts of the tree, but it will focus on, hey, maybe start here and remember, you can't work on all six at the exact same time. Pick something, make small goals for yourself, and start moving forward.
If you are a district leader heading to the same link, makemathmoments.com/report, when you click on the button, it will give you the option to take the district leader version, which will customize it more for your role as a district leader. We've heard so many educators asking us for the classroom version, so we listened, we did that work, and the report is now ready and fully customizable for you and your students. So head on over to makemathmoments.com/report and get going on that classroom assessment.

Jon Orr: As always, both Kyle and I learn so much as we reflect on the conversations that we have together here in the podcast and also prepping for the podcast. And we chatted a lot before we hit record on what we wanted to think about for the classroom pillars and how to think about whether students have changed or not changed in thinking about some of those ideas. We definitely just started this conversation, right? This is the ideas that we presented here are not the be all, end all of what changes you're experiencing in the classroom, but we would love to hear from you about any experiences you're having.
We have the full K to 12 Facebook group over on our Facebook page at Make Math Moments, you'll get in there and share some of the ideas that you're experiencing in your classroom. The community is very engaging and will jump right in to give their thoughts on maybe what you could change in your six parts of your tree or Kyle and I will jump in there as well. Or you can find us on any social media platform as well, @makemathmoments.

Kyle Pearce: Awesome stuff. And friends, hey, did you know that last week alone we had over 10,000 listens of the podcast? Which is fantastic. It's amazing and we love to see that, but here's the sad part is that we only received one rating and review on Apple Podcasts. 10,000 listens and only one rating and review. You don't understand how helpful that is for us as a show to grow and reach a wider audience of Math Moment Makers just like you. So do us a solid and leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, whatever platform you're on, or if you're just on some other social media platform, sharing the podcast with others who you think would benefit goes a huge way. So, thank you for everything you do to help us keep this thing going because we want to grow that math program tree right alongside you.

Jon Orr: Shout out some links to resources and a complete transcript can be found over at makemathmoments.com/episode224. Again, that's makemathmoments.com/episode224.

Kyle Pearce: Thank you for listening to the Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast, where we help you grow your mathematics program just like a strong, healthy, and balanced tree so your impact can reach far and wide. Well, until next time, my Math Moment Maker friends, I'm Kyle Pearce.

Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr.

Kyle Pearce: High fives for us.

Jon Orr: And a big, smacking high five for you.

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