Episode #246: What You’ve Missed: The Most Essential Component of Every Math PD Session
Today you’ll hear from Yvette Lehman, an elementary educator from Windsor, Ontario. Yvette is a Primary and Junior Division Teacher Consultant for the Greater Essex County Board of Education and if the name seems familiar then you’re right, we have referenced Yvette’s work numerous times here on the podcast as she’s also a colleague of Kyle’s and a fantastic part of the Make Math Moments curriculum writing team and presented numerous times at the annual Make Math Moments Virtual Summit.
Our conversation kicks off by unraveling the essential qualities of district leaders of mathematics. Discover why being bold, focused, and mathematically proficient is crucial for driving transformative change in math instruction across districts. You’ll gain valuable strategies and perspectives that position leaders to create a lasting impact on math education.
Yvette shares how recognizing the challenges teachers face is vital to supporting their growth. We delve into how educators can identify when they are feeling overwhelmed and drowning in their responsibilities and we uncover effective ways leaders can offer assistance and resources, ensuring teachers feel supported and empowered to navigate their teaching journey successfully.
Let’s get ready to dive in.
What You’ll Learn:
- Why district leaders of mathematics need to be bold, focused, and mathematically proficient so they are best positioned to change math instruction in their district;
- How do you help teachers recognize that they are drowning?
- How having a supportive “other” encourages you to keep your learning going;
- What transformative PD support looks like in a large district.
Attention District Math Leaders:
How are you ensuring that you support those educators who need a nudge to spark a focus on growing their pedagogical-content knowledge?
What about opportunities for those who are eager and willing to elevate their practice, but do not have the support?
Book a call with our District Improvement Program Team to learn how we can not only help you craft, refine and implement your district math learning goals, but also provide all of the professional learning supports your educators need to grow at the speed of their learning.
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00:00:00:10 – 00:00:23:01
My math experience really was that I was not a math person. The most vivid memory I have is in grade ten, when I was outright failing a class for the first time ever. It was a shock to me. I’d always been a pretty good student. I didn’t have to work very hard to be successful in school, and I was completely failing the course with really no options.
00:00:23:01 – 00:00:47:19
Today, you’ll hear from Event Leeman, an elementary educator from Windsor, Ontario. Event is a primary and junior division teacher consultant for the Greater Essex County District School Board. And if that name seems familiar, then you’re right. We referenced events, work numerous times here in the podcast. She’s also a colleague of Kyle’s and a fantastic part of the Math Moments curriculum writing team.
00:00:47:22 – 00:00:56:01
She kind of leads a lot of that team and she’s presented numerous times at the annual Make Math Moments Virtual Summit.
00:00:56:03 – 00:01:23:09
Our conversation kicks off by unraveling the essential qualities of district leaders of mathematics. Discover why being bold, focused, and mathematically proficient is crucial for driving transform normative change in math, education and instruction across districts. You’ll gain valuable strategies and perspectives that position leaders to create a lasting impact on your math program.
00:01:23:11 – 00:02:00:04
Yvette shares how recognizing the challenges teachers face is vital to supporting their growth. We delve into how educators can identify when they are feeling overwhelmed and drowning in their responsibilities. And we cover effective ways leaders can offer assistance and resources, ensuring teachers feel supported, empowered to navigate their teaching journey successfully.
00:02:00:06 – 00:02:03:19
Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle.
00:02:03:19 – 00:02:07:04
Pearce. And I’m Jon or we are from makemathmoments.com .
00:02:07:08 – 00:02:17:07
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.
00:02:17:09 – 00:02:30:12
And we do that by helping you cultivate and foster your mathematics program like a strong, healthy and balanced tree. And if you master the six parts, an effective mathematics program, the impact of your math program will grow and reach far and wide.
00:02:30:14 – 00:02:45:00
Every week you’ll get the insight you need to stop feeling overwhelmed, gain back your confidence, and get back to enjoying the planning. Emphasis imitating of your mathematics program for the students or educators you serve.
00:02:45:02 – 00:02:48:11
And let’s just jump right in. Here is Yvette.
00:02:48:13 – 00:03:14:12
Hey there, Yvette. Welcome back to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. It has been a long while since you’ve been on the show and actually since I’ve had an opportunity to chat with you folks. If you remember back when Yvette was on the show, Yvette and I had offices, what, two doors down from each other, and we used to geek out on math pretty much any time both of us were in the district office together.
00:03:14:14 – 00:03:28:10
And as of late, I’ve been working with this stand up desk and pedaling my butt off on this little spin bike. And it’s been a long while. I miss you. How are things in your world? Remind people a little bit about yourself.
00:03:28:14 – 00:03:51:24
Thanks for having me. Yes, Kyle and I were neighbors, but I recently moved, so I’ve upgraded my office. I’m on the other side now and I requested a wall of whiteboards just like yours. So I can have all the space that I need to do all the math. So. Yeah, so good. Thanks for having me today. As Kyle mentioned, we are colleagues at the Greater Essex County District School Board.
00:03:51:24 – 00:04:12:21
I’m also a teacher consultant and really my focus is on grades 1 to 6. But the reason that I was even interested in coming to this job in the first place was because I love math and I love math education. And I was just so thrilled at the opportunity to be able to work with people like Kyle and other educators in the system who share that passion.
00:04:12:23 – 00:04:39:07
Awesome stuff. Yeah, we are excited to have you here as we’ve chatted so many times, not only you’ve had a session here on the podcast, you’ve run virtual sessions in our summit every year. You are one of our content writers for the lessons posted here on our tasks that make math moments. The work we’re doing is so important for teachers, but it’s only really available to those teachers because of the work that you’re doing here at Make Math.
00:04:39:12 – 00:04:56:19
So we’re so excited that you’re here to kind of continue the chat with us. But before we get too much further into this chat, we’re going to ask you about your math moment. So even think back in the old times, your learning experience. What would you say is like when we say math class, What pops in your mind?
00:04:56:19 – 00:05:06:19
What’s bringing that thought forward that stuck with you all of this time? Could be good, could be bad. It doesn’t matter. Something that is stuck with you all this time around. Math class.
00:05:06:21 – 00:05:28:09
It’s actually funny you say that because as you were introducing me, I had this moment where I was kind of chuckling because the fact that I am a math leader in the district and that I am a content writer is shocking, to be honest. It still needs some time because my math experience really was that I was not a math person.
00:05:28:11 – 00:05:50:22
The most vivid memory I have is in grade ten, when I was outright failing a class for the first time ever. It was a shock to me. I’d always been a pretty good student. I didn’t have to work very hard to be successful in school, and I was completely failing the course with really no options in sight. There was no amount of tutoring or studying that was going to save me.
00:05:50:22 – 00:06:11:02
At that point. I was too far from where the class was in because I was a good student. I basically was given a 55 and sent on my way. And I remember really everybody around me just telling me at that point, don’t worry about it. You’re just not a math person. Just get through the next few years and then you’ll never have to do math again.
00:06:11:04 – 00:06:31:01
You’ll go into the languages, you’ll go into social sciences, and this isn’t going to hold you back. So it’s very interesting, of course, that now time has passed and your math used to be something that caused me so much fear and anxiety. It is one of my top five things probably to do in a work environment or outside of a work environment.
00:06:31:02 – 00:06:39:01
Friday night, solving a really great math problem. Sounds like a great time to me. So it’s definitely a transformation over the past 20 years.
00:06:39:03 – 00:07:02:01
Not an awesome memory, but what an awesome sort of transition or transformation from a place where and I know that everyone listening knows of these students who are exactly like what you had as your experience, right when you said you were a good student. It sounds like you were both studious, you were working hard and doing whatever you needed.
00:07:02:01 – 00:07:26:15
You mentioned that you maybe didn’t have to work as hard, maybe as maybe you recognized later, but then probably also behaviorally a good student, right? Probably come in compliance doing what you need to do and then struggling and then everybody just not wanting you to feel bad about it. Right. They probably didn’t intend for it to have a negative sort of impact when they say don’t worry about it, they were probably just trying to make you feel like, it’s okay, dust yourself off.
00:07:26:15 – 00:07:53:09
Everything’s going to be okay in life. You’re just not a math person. Is sort of this line that we used to say, like there’s other opportunities which are true. It doesn’t have to be math. But the fact that at that time and I think still today, so many people leveraged that as sort of the out versus sort of looking at it and going, hmm, I wonder if there’s something we could do to try to make this better or give this student a different opportunity.
00:07:53:09 – 00:08:28:18
And ironically, you’re now in this position. And I would say one of the strongest math facilitators that I know personally and both Jon and I have traveled, we’ve presented met so many great people at different conferences and presenting with you and having done so many presentations together with you, planning them and then facilitating them, I would never have guessed before meeting you and before digging in that rabbit hole and having that discussion with you, I would have never guessed that that was your math experience, which I guess tells me two things.
00:08:28:18 – 00:08:58:20
First of all, good on you that you’ve had I guess that courage, determination, the willingness to sort of dig in and figure things out. But then I guess secondly, it sort of gives hope, I think, to so many other students that are out there that might be feeling like you did in that Grade ten classroom. They might be feeling it in grade five or grade three or grade nine, whatever the grade is, And the fact that that is not who you are as a math person.
00:08:58:20 – 00:09:27:18
That’s an experience you had. That’s a series of experiences that you had that put you in a position and people probably did the best they could knowing what they knew. But in reality, there’s so much there. So I’m wondering how do you use that as motivation when you’re planning for a PD session, when you’re coaching with teachers or mentoring teachers in the district, how does that experience influence the work that you’re trying to do with the teachers at Greater Essex?
00:09:27:24 – 00:09:58:19
Well, I don’t want to give you too much credit, Kyle, but really I really do have to credit Kyle for sparking my journey. I was a grade six teacher and struggling to teach math. The reality is I didn’t have the content knowledge to teach grade six math. And as we know, teaching is so complex because we need to have the grade six content knowledge, but we need to know well beyond it and well before it be able to be responsive to all of the learners in our class.
00:09:58:19 – 00:10:22:24
So math was something that I really dreaded every single day because I knew that I was going in there without enough content knowledge to back me up. But I did attend a session that Kyle ran with one of our colleagues, Heidi, and that was the session that sparked the transformation in my learning journey. I walked away from that session and I recognize that there was something that I could do about my situation.
00:10:23:01 – 00:10:49:15
My situation being that I was basically faking it every single day and feeling really bad about it. Being very aware of the fact that I wasn’t meeting the needs of my learners in that I really wasn’t confident teaching math. And so when I went to that session, we learned about the five mathematical proficiencies. We engaged in some learning where the math was very concrete and visual, and that was really my first experience with math that way.
00:10:49:17 – 00:11:15:00
And I left that session and I said to myself, If I can make every single concept in the Grade six curriculum concrete, I can become a better mathematician. And if I can become a better mathematician, I’ll be better positioned to help my students. And I knew that if I couldn’t make it concrete, then I didn’t understand it. That’s what I took away from the session, is that every single thing I was teaching can be seen and I can be manipulated.
00:11:15:05 – 00:11:43:02
And the reality is, reflecting back, I was at the concrete stage. That’s where I was in that learning, where I actually needed to see it concretely. So not only did it of course benefit me, but benefit my students as we went on that journey together, And that was really the start for me. Truly, that concrete, pictorial abstract is a phase that I needed to go through myself with the math curriculum so that I would be better positioned to support students.
00:11:43:02 – 00:11:51:18
And I always say to people, How did I get to the place where I am now with my content knowledge? It’s by doing a lot of math. There is no way around it.
00:11:51:18 – 00:11:54:15
Seems obvious, but not something people do, right?
00:11:54:17 – 00:12:22:23
No. And there is no way to avoid it. You really have to be able to take every expectation that you’re teaching and see it concretely, see it visually, and then connect it to the symbolic. And that takes time and it also takes support. If I think about what did I need for that learning to happen, it was that realization that understanding that I had to build my conceptual understanding through those phases, but it was also having people around me who were willing to go on that journey with me.
00:12:23:00 – 00:12:44:22
That is, I mean, such a good summary of the process that’s necessary for everyone and even those who didn’t have your experience, I would argue, still need to go through that process because a lot of people are just good at the abstract, right, or good at maybe the procedure. And I couldn’t help but think back to that time where we were doing so.
00:12:44:22 – 00:13:06:18
Yvette came in and essentially took over the role for Heidi, who was Co-presenting with myself when we did this work. And to give credit where credit’s due, I don’t know if I’ve ever told Heidi this. I think I should. But she really opened my eyes to the research side of things. I was in the moment. Jon and I were both in sort of this world of just experimentation, right?
00:13:06:18 – 00:13:31:04
Like we’re just scientists. We’re going out there like, try this, try that. Did that work? Do that work, do that work. And Heidi really opened my eyes to the idea of the research and how much work is out there that I was I guess, shocked that I’m like, how do I not know this? Right. And that really was a great way for me to open up my thinking and look at things differently and you gave a shout out.
00:13:31:04 – 00:13:37:11
I wanted to give a shout out there and kind of credit someone who’s had a massive impact on my journey as well.
00:13:37:13 – 00:14:07:05
They want to kind of roll back a little bit about that experience you had where it transitioned you down this journey and why I want to kind of focus on that moment for now is because we’ve got a bunch of listeners listening to this. Who are people in your position now? There are district leaders. They are people who are in charge of math programing at their schools, at their districts, and they are struggling with, say, getting their teachers to go down that journey.
00:14:07:05 – 00:14:28:17
Kyle and I chat almost every day with some of our district partners who have come on in to get coaching from Kyle and I and work with us throughout the year. And that’s a big struggle that they’re having right there, saying like how do I get on a bet? How do I get someone who’s ready to go down this journey and take that vested interest in mathematics to better themselves, but also learn that content knowledge?
00:14:28:17 – 00:14:49:23
Because you’re right, it does take time, it does take support. But what I’m a little bit curious on is you said that it was partly the actual presentation or the session and that focused on the concrete. And you had never experienced a session like that as a focus for the mathematics teaching. But I’m curious maybe about what framed you.
00:14:49:24 – 00:15:07:02
There was something there that was the right combination, I think, and I don’t know what that is yet, but if we could replicate that, I think it’s like, Oh my gosh, if we could create more events, all of a sudden it’s like Kyle’s presentation with Heidi was the right presentation for you. But what was your mindset at that time?
00:15:07:02 – 00:15:21:02
Were you looking for change at that point? Or WHEREAS you walked in and was like, I wasn’t even thinking about it. It was like, boom, it hit me and it was like this. But I kind of want to know what was the priming to make you go, Yes, this is the right thing.
00:15:21:04 – 00:15:48:22
I think it was an olive branch because I was drowning. I knew I was drowning and I was faking it. I had been invited to that session as a math lead, right, for my school. And I thought, Little do they know, I actually have no idea what I am doing and I feel anxious. And when students ask me questions and I knew that I just was not doing the work well, and so I felt like that session was finally a solution to a problem that I knew I had.
00:15:48:22 – 00:16:10:00
The problem being, I don’t know the math. And so you’re presenting me with a solution. What you’re telling me is that if I can just build it, if I can make it, if I can draw it, that I’m going to be better positioned to engage in this work, I can do that. That felt reasonable. But I also had support and I think that that is really critical.
00:16:10:02 – 00:16:39:02
I don’t know that I would have been as successful if I didn’t have a community around me who was willing to go on the journey with me and help me muddle through it. And certainly I would say those first few years that I was on that journey and wasn’t always pretty, there were times that I was completely stuck, but I had people I actually remember the day that I was in my classroom completely stuck, and they had Kyle on speaker from the board office and I’m aggressive telling him that this isn’t working.
00:16:39:05 – 00:17:05:15
Come in, fix this, because I was so committed to it. I was committed and I believe that this work was going to make a difference. So, yeah, it’s funny, I guess to say, why did I do it? Because I had to do it. There was really no other choice. What I was doing wasn’t working. And I think that being a teacher is a privilege and I never want to spend time wasting students time and walking away feeling like I didn’t make them stronger than they were before.
00:17:05:17 – 00:17:07:23
They had the experience of being in my classroom.
00:17:08:00 – 00:17:33:18
I am having all of these. I say it on the show all the time. One of the reasons we do this show is because we learn so much through where question knowing people. But then we, I feel like benefit the most because we learn from the different thoughts. And when Jon asked that question about what primed you for this learning, you just hit me with something that’s interesting is the fact that you recognized that you were drowning.
00:17:33:22 – 00:17:56:07
And I guess my wonder is I feel like there are many educators out there who aren’t recognizing it, and instead they’re using, we’ll call them tools that are ways to avoid the reality. Right. And what I mean by that is when a teacher shuts a student down and says, no, this is the way you do it, just follow the steps.
00:17:56:10 – 00:18:19:14
To me, that’s like a way to avoid the reality of the situation, which is you probably don’t understand the content as well. So somehow you recognize that. And just for those who are listening as well, at the time you were team teaching your grade six, so there’s two grade six classes in one class was Shelley Eiler was your partner.
00:18:19:16 – 00:18:44:06
And I’m wondering what sort of impact or influence do you think did that experience have for you to maybe recognize that this was a challenge before you came to that session where it was like, Oh my gosh, this is going to help me with this challenge or with this problem that we had. And I guess the reason I’m asking is how do we help more educators come to that realization not so that they feel like they’re drowning.
00:18:44:06 – 00:18:58:02
We don’t want them to have the feeling, but we want them to at least have the motivation to do the work that you’ve been doing essentially over the last, what, ten years, almost straight. I mean, longer, if you think about it, since the beginning of your career.
00:18:58:04 – 00:19:29:11
Well, everybody needs a Shelley. That’s the first agreed. We could replicate that for everyone. I don’t know that having a teaching partner necessarily helped me realize how much I was struggling. I think I already knew that, but it gave me the support that I needed to engage in the work. So there were a couple of things there. I had a super supportive partner who was invested in the learning just as much as I was, but we also divided and conquered, and so my workload wasn’t as great during those years because we were team teaching.
00:19:29:13 – 00:19:54:13
So she was handling a lot of the prep work for social studies. For example, while I was taking science and I was prepping a lot of the arts while she was working on our French language. So because we were supporting one another and our workload was reduced and as first planning, it almost gave me the room that I needed to have the cognitive space and the creativity to really commit myself to this work in math.
00:19:54:15 – 00:20:14:02
So I think that to your question, I probably was faking it for her too, even though there was trust there, I certainly didn’t want her to know how vulnerable I was. But I think that knowing I had somebody I vividly remember the day that I went back after that session and I said to her, This is what we’re going to do.
00:20:14:04 – 00:20:33:23
We’re going to challenge ourselves. That’s how we saw it, right? Is as a challenge for ourselves. We’re going to challenge ourselves to represent every single concept we teach concretely. And she was in I didn’t have to insert the work didn’t scare her. She was willing to be uncomfortable with me. And that’s why I say everybody needs a Shelley.
00:20:34:00 – 00:20:41:19
Everybody needs people in their lives that are going to be supportive but also willing to engage in the work alongside you.
00:20:41:21 – 00:21:04:13
I love it. I love it. And it’s interesting because this comes back to again by doing the work essentially you had highlighted earlier. It’s like doing the math. And interestingly enough, I know I sort of talked about the impact that Heidi had on shifting maybe my mindset and kind of moving more. Experimenting is important, but there’s also let’s base it on something, right?
00:21:04:14 – 00:21:35:12
Let’s learn about what’s already been done out there and see what that looks like when we bring it in. And then I would articulate that you were a real motivator for me to recognize that I needed to do the math, but not only just by myself, but with other people, I think is another big piece. And there’s a culture that has started in our district office where I believe when I first came into that role, I think we as a team and this isn’t any one of us, I think all of us felt this way.
00:21:35:12 – 00:21:55:07
This is pre that this is when we were back with our original math team when I came in, I don’t think any of us ever really did any math together, and it probably had a lot to do, maybe with having not had the trust yet. Right. Not knowing each other, not but then also not feeling comfortable enough in our own math shoes.
00:21:55:07 – 00:22:12:18
Right. In terms of I’m the math consultant. I’m supposed to know some of this stuff. Right. And it took some time. And I think when you came into the department and probably because you came in and you were like, I don’t know what I’m doing, as soon as you just say it, if you just say, I don’t know what I’m doing, then it’s like there’s no expectations.
00:22:12:18 – 00:22:33:07
And that’s where my mindset started to shift and I see it on the podcast all the time. I don’t understand how a lot of math works, but the key is are you willing to go down the rabbit hole even if you don’t come up that first time with the answer, the understanding, the epiphany, the aha, you just have to be willing to do it.
00:22:33:07 – 00:22:51:16
And it’s like a disarmament, right? You just have to put the armor down and say, I’m not exactly sure how this works. And then now we brought Mark into that conversation. I know Craig, who’s been on the podcast, Craig Guthrie, he’s in the math world and we’re just much more open to just saying, I don’t get it right.
00:22:51:16 – 00:23:11:07
And sometimes there’s times where you that you’re like, you’ve been thinking about it for days and you come in and then we’re all staring at you going, I have no idea what you’re doing right now. This doesn’t make any sense to me. But we all feel comfortable enough to have that experience. And ultimately, if you were to think about it, it’s like we have a mini little math class.
00:23:11:07 – 00:23:43:14
That’s what math class should be all about, right? All of these kids who are like, sometimes this student over here is doing something and I’m not sure what it is. And that’s okay as long as we’re willing to continue working through it. And we don’t just discounted or we don’t just throw our arms up in frustration. So how does that, I guess, experience how do you see that maybe influencing not only the culture of the department, the program department, but then also how do you see us trying to build that culture in our buildings?
00:23:43:14 – 00:23:46:08
How can we better do that? Hard question. I know.
00:23:46:08 – 00:23:48:03
I was just going to say.
00:23:48:05 – 00:23:49:17
Just an impossible question.
00:23:49:17 – 00:23:52:17
But you know, if you answer this correctly.
00:23:52:19 – 00:23:53:11
00:23:53:11 – 00:23:54:12
All of math is.
00:23:54:12 – 00:23:56:20
Solved. Yeah, exactly.
00:23:56:22 – 00:24:16:07
Yeah, that’s a great question. You’ll be happy to know your whiteboard is still in use. Mark and Sarah and I spend a lot of time just solving problems and I feel like that is where the most learning happens. I can’t share that enough. I just think doing math with others is so important, especially math that you don’t understand.
00:24:16:09 – 00:24:35:16
It’s one thing to show people something you already know. That to me is not where the benefit is. It’s when you come across something that you don’t know. That is where the learning happens. But to your point, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to put in the time. You have to have people around you who are like minded.
00:24:35:18 – 00:24:55:18
I can remember when I was first implementing many lessons you can imagine that journey, right? Mini lessons was revolutionary for my teaching also. That was when I learned that there were two types of division. I had no idea. So I was divided. Modeling division on the number line. Oh my gosh, Purgative and quoted. It looks completely different. I called Kyle.
00:24:55:18 – 00:25:13:08
I’m like, Did you know that these are different? I had no idea. And then I ran down to the Grady Teachers classroom and then I modeled it for him. And then by the time that happened, there were six of us all huddled around the board trying to wrap our heads around this. And I think that it is about culture in your learning community.
00:25:13:08 – 00:25:47:13
It’s about having people who are, I guess, rallying. I think that’s important. It’s like connections, personality, but I don’t exactly know how that happens in a busy I always call it the hamster wheel. They tell teachers all the time when they come to PD. I’m like, Today you get to step off the hamster wheel and you get to just focus on math and we’re going to do a lot of math together and we’re going to talk about math and you’re going to work with your colleagues and we’re going to try some really cool problems and you’re going to be in a safe place to experiment and work with models, but then get back on the
00:25:47:13 – 00:26:07:18
hamster wheel tomorrow. And so it is hard it’s hard to replicate that. Well, we have in your office where we have time and we have like minded people and we can spend we can put off our work for that day and do it until midnight that night and spend 4 hours working through a problem is not a luxury that teachers have in the classroom.
00:26:07:20 – 00:26:10:09
So to your question, I don’t know.
00:26:10:11 – 00:26:27:14
Yeah, it is the work. That’s the work that we signed up to do is to kind of continue to make strides towards answering that question then. And I know that I think you talked a lot about mindset that a teacher has to have and how to get in the right position. You talked a little bit about what good PD looks like.
00:26:27:14 – 00:26:48:21
I think it’s very clear that in order for professional development to happen with teachers, to prepare them, the best is to do the math. You’ve made that very clear. How often have people who are making math programing in PD got their teachers to do the math? It’s not a lot that’s clear about what is the content part of, say, a math session should look like.
00:26:48:21 – 00:27:09:03
But in your opinion, what does that support look like? You talked about having the right mindset and having that pebble that you wanted solving, which was like you were drowning and then you kind of moved down that path. But then you said support is necessary. In your opinion, what does good support look like, knowing that we’re going to focus on doing the math as the content part?
00:27:09:06 – 00:27:33:11
I think it’s about a network. And I mean, to our board’s credit, certainly on my journey, I felt I had that support. There were people in the district at the time, so Kyle and Heidi, of course, being two of them, as well as my own colleagues in other mathletes in the system that I knew I could depend on and a drop of a hat right when I came across something that was challenging me or I had a question, I could send an email, I could make a phone call.
00:27:33:16 – 00:27:54:15
But I think that that’s because I knew who those people were. And so as a district, that’s something I struggle with in my role, which I’m now in. That role is that I know that people were there for me when I was on this journey. I knew who I could rely on that if I was struggling with the concept, that would be a knowledgeable other for me.
00:27:54:17 – 00:28:19:00
But how do you, in a large district make every single teacher aware that support exists and how to access it and when to access it? I know we have a large department and every one of us is more than willing to be available at any point really. But how do you communicate? And I know that Kyle and I have had that conversation many times about just communication.
00:28:19:02 – 00:28:44:03
When you have teachers in classrooms on the hamster wheel, memos are not the most effective. And when you don’t have a face to end, actually, I’ll tell you my philosophy for next year. PD I’ve said this probably 100 times to my colleagues. We need face time with every teacher, even if it’s 15 minutes, face time with every single teacher in the district so that they know that they have support and that there are people that are ready to rally around them.
00:28:44:05 – 00:29:03:19
And what I’m hearing through this discussion, and I think you just put a stamp on it, is this idea of like there really needs to be this work towards building that relational trust. So that’s good. Jim Strack can kind of move is really we need it’s great to see a name right And we’ve done this and everyone’s probably done it.
00:29:03:19 – 00:29:21:09
There’s the list, but it’s like, Hey, if there’s math, you okay? Well, you can contact Kyle or Yvette or Sara or Mark or whoever, but ultimately, at the end of the day, if they’re just a name on a page, then what’s the chances that they’re going to reach out? Maybe they’re a nice person, maybe they’re not a nice person.
00:29:21:09 – 00:29:46:11
Maybe they are stuck up. Maybe they’re not. There’s all of these things. So having that face time is sort of that first step to build relational trust. And then what I was thinking about as you were talking also is probably one of the most important pieces in order for this to happen at a bigger scale is first and foremost for those who are leaders will call you math leaders, be it or grade level leader, an administrator, a coach.
00:29:46:11 – 00:30:06:03
Maybe it’s a district leader, but ultimately, at the end of the day, modeling what it is that you want to recreate. So if let’s say someone sitting and listening to this conversation happen and they go, holy smokes, we need to do more math, well, how are you going to motivate someone to do more math? Well, guess what? You’re going to have to do more math yourself, right?
00:30:06:03 – 00:30:25:03
You’re going to have to model it somehow. And that could be something as simple as doing being Mike Hoggard, who’s an amazing administrator, who will team up with someone and do math with them, and he’ll partner with a teacher and it’s like he’s modeling what he wants to see happen and it might take time and it’s not going to happen overnight.
00:30:25:05 – 00:30:46:20
But ultimately I’m thinking about some big takeaways here from this conversation already, and I’m thinking if you want to see some of those things happening, you’ve got to that. You first have to think like, what do I need to do in order to start doing the things that I want to see others doing, modeling it, and then slowly bringing people in to that conversation.
00:30:46:20 – 00:31:06:03
And imagine if every math leader, right, everyone wearing that hat where they have some sort of math leadership role in their district. If every one of them were to take that first step and just by doing a little bit of the math themself, maybe with a partner, maybe with a small group, then just think of the compounding effect that that has.
00:31:06:03 – 00:31:23:08
Right? It’s going to have a way bigger impact than people even having that 15 minutes of face time with event. But once they start doing that and then if that does have the 15 minutes of face time now when they do get stuck, they go, let’s invite Yvette into that conversation too. Right. And continue to grow it.
00:31:23:13 – 00:31:40:13
So, Yvette, I’m curious your thoughts here. Kyle had a big takeaway. I’m curious about what would be a big idea like a takeaway for the listener right now. That said, if you got anything out of this conversation today, then this is it. What would you say that is for today’s chat?
00:31:40:15 – 00:32:02:17
It’s probably that conceptual understanding to me is the key. And I know that we talk about the five efficiencies as being completely interwoven in, and I think that’s true. But conceptual understanding is the one thread that if it’s not there, the rest is going to completely unravel. And I see that because it’s for me, that was my experience.
00:32:02:17 – 00:32:26:04
And so maybe I’m biased. When I talked about starting concrete and like really working my way through that concrete to visual to abstract, what I was building was conceptual understanding. And I feel like as a teacher, so maybe not as a mathematician, but as a teacher, that is such a critical component for me to be able to be responsive to student learning needs.
00:32:26:06 – 00:32:48:17
So if I have a student who is well beyond the curriculum aspects and I want to extend them, or if I have a student who is striving to access it, if I do not have conceptual understanding of that content, I cannot meet the needs of that learner. That’s it. Bottom line, I will say that boldly. You cannot meet the needs of all learners with a conceptual understanding of mathematics.
00:32:48:17 – 00:33:14:20
And so I guess to summarize, we have to be willing to be aware of the fact that we may not be as proficient as we think. I think that’s maybe the first step. Like Kyle said, I was in a position where I was well aware of it. Was I admitting it to everybody? Not necessarily, but I was well aware that I was really struggling and based on just my own experience over the past 12 years, that was the key for me.
00:33:14:22 – 00:33:21:04
That was what unlocked my mathematics journey, was just building my own conceptual understanding.
00:33:21:06 – 00:33:44:04
I think it’s so important for you to be bold like you had mentioned. It might sound bold, but it is a fact, right? And I mean, if you really think about it just being rational when you think you have a student who doesn’t understand the concept, where they’re not where they need to be, but you don’t really understand how the concept develops, then you are going to be in a really tough spot to provide them with a useful next step.
00:33:44:04 – 00:34:02:07
Of course, you’re going to try to provide them with some next step, but is it going to be helpful? Is it going to be productive? Is it actually going to maybe do more harm than good? Right. When we say things like, well, just do it this way and you’ll eventually get it, or any of those messages that we started do when we’re not sure what to do next.
00:34:02:07 – 00:34:23:02
And I think being open and honest with students can be really helpful too. And it’s okay to tell them I don’t actually know what the next move is right now, but I’m going to look into it right and think of the modeling and the messaging that a student gets when their teacher is saying like, Hey, listen, you’ve brought some really interesting ideas to the table here.
00:34:23:02 – 00:34:40:14
I’m not exactly sure how it all makes sense. Can you try to explain it to me or maybe think about it and then when I come back around, can you try to show me in a different way and that student’s going to gain some benefit from it? But at the end of the day, really does come down to what am I now going to do about it, Right?
00:34:40:14 – 00:35:02:04
So if I’m a teacher and a student gets stuck and then I go and I just sort of get back on the hamster wheel and then carry on the next day without actually doing the reflection piece to go, what happened there? Because that’s probably an opportunity. It’s a learning opportunity not just for the student, but it’s a learning opportunity for us as an educator where we go, I’ve never seen that scenario happen before.
00:35:02:04 – 00:35:22:05
Or on the other end. The other end of the spectrum is this is happening all the time and I have no idea what to do. Talk about red flags. Right. The alarm is going off that there’s something going on here that maybe you don’t know and it’s okay, you’re human. There’s a lot to learn. But we have to recognize that that learning actually has to take place.
00:35:22:09 – 00:35:51:08
I’m glad you said that, Kyle, because I want to be clear that I do not have conceptual understanding of every single expectation in the one day curriculum. I do not. But I am willing to learn. I’m willing to and I have the supports in place to learn. So was my learning journey done? Far from it. There are some areas that I feel more confident in, but when I encounter something new or where I don’t have the conceptual understanding, I do have a few things working to my advantage.
00:35:51:10 – 00:36:17:14
I have models in my toolkit that I can leverage to be able to make sense of concepts that are unfamiliar to me. And I have a support network. So just recently I was texting Kyle on a Friday night working through a Grade 12 problem that I hadn’t encountered before, and I kind of left the conversation with, I know how to do it now, but I still don’t conceptually understand why it works.
00:36:17:15 – 00:36:26:16
And so it’s like now that’s a journey that I need to go on because I am committed to understanding. But I, again, I have the support in place to allow me to do that.
00:36:26:18 – 00:36:48:01
I love it. I love it. Ivette, you’re going to be joining us again at this year’s summit in November. Folks, you can sign up for Yvette Session. And every time Yvette leads a session, whether I’m Co-presenting or whether I am just attending as an attendee, I learned something new. And I promise you’re going to learn something new, too.
00:36:48:01 – 00:37:13:02
There’s always a focus on doing the math and digging in to the conceptual understanding, which includes that, representing it, making connections from concrete, visual, abstract, which is fantastic. Yvette We are so thankful that you’ve joined us here on the podcast to share all of these many epiphanies. I’m wondering if there was just one thing, one thing that the listeners take away from this conversation here today.
00:37:13:08 – 00:37:17:21
What are you hoping that would be and what are you hoping that they will walk away with?
00:37:17:23 – 00:37:40:14
Probably that map can be really joyful. I never would have known that as a student. I certainly didn’t know that as an early teacher. I thought math was this terrifying and boring and I really had no interest in engaging in mathematics unless I was being forced to do it. But as I mentioned, it’s actually a very social discipline.
00:37:40:14 – 00:38:08:04
It’s creative, it grows my brain constantly. It’s helped me form some really amazing connections. And so I hope that people see that there is space for math to be really joyful, even if they’re not feeling right now, and that they can really look for people in their community who are willing to go on that journey with them. And maybe they don’t find those people within their own school that they look to the larger math community for spaces where we can just engage in math together.
00:38:08:06 – 00:38:18:13
Awesome. I love that. And even if folks are like, Hey, I’d love to kind of connect on social or maybe other places, where would they find you?
00:38:18:15 – 00:38:28:24
This is a great question. I’m really not good at those types of things. I am on Twitter. I don’t even know what my handle is.
00:38:29:01 – 00:38:32:06
I will look it up because I know we’re friends on Twitter, right?
00:38:32:07 – 00:38:32:19
00:38:32:19 – 00:38:38:22
Start typing your name. So Yvette Lemon, if you look it up on Twitter, I want to say it’s something like Ms..
00:38:38:24 – 00:38:39:18
And I’m Lemon.
00:38:39:18 – 00:39:06:08
Yes, I’m Lemon, Emily. LEMON. So council add that to the show notes. And my friend, it is always awesome. A pleasure and honor to reconnect with you. And yeah, lots of big takeaways here. So thanks for taking some time out. It is summertime as we’re recording this, so you’re taking some time out of your well-deserved summertime schedule and looking forward to connecting with you and all the greater Essex folks again real soon.
00:39:06:14 – 00:39:08:10
Thanks for having me.
00:39:08:12 – 00:39:49:07
All right. My friend’s math moment makers. It was awesome to bring Yvette back on. And actually at the beginning of our chat, I was imagining that she was on for one on one interview like we just did here today. But actually you may recognize one of her episodes being the audio from a past virtual summit session. Yvette is a wealth of knowledge, and as you just heard, she’s had a really interesting journey from being a student who was essentially told that they’re just not a math person and just not worry about it, to feeling as though she was drowning in the grade six classroom, trying to figure how to help more of her students, and
00:39:49:07 – 00:40:11:03
then finally discovering that, hey, doing the math is really critical in order for us to truly address those student learning needs of all of our students. So when I look to the six parts of an effective math program, that tree, I feel like this conversation could really we could talk about all six parts. You know, there’s a lot of mindset.
00:40:11:03 – 00:40:32:04
The soil, sun, water, that part of the tree I’m hearing come through. We didn’t explicitly talk about it, but obviously need those mindset shifts to be there. We didn’t get too deep in the weeds around the resources themselves through the leaves, but that is something that’s really important. But something that to me popped right out was the roots of the tree.
00:40:32:04 – 00:40:52:12
We were talking about this importance to having an understanding of what mathematical proficiency looks like and sounds like, and that really the only way that we can develop that conceptual understanding in order to truly help all of the students or as many of the students as we possibly can in our classroom is to understand the math. And Yvette said it.
00:40:52:12 – 00:41:14:13
She’s like, I might sound like I’m being bold here, but we got to do the math. And that took a really long time for me to recognize. And by doing the math and doing it with other educators, with other trusted partners, that means that you have to disarm yourself. You have to take the armor off and just do the learning.
00:41:14:13 – 00:41:22:07
Be a thinker, be a learner, just like you want your students to be doing in the classroom. We need to be able to do that ourselves and with our colleagues.
00:41:22:09 – 00:41:54:14
Yeah, and I think that was also entwined with the trunk of the tree. And when we talk about district programing, a district level we’re calling the trunk of the tree, the leadership, the individuals, the district leaders, the coaches, the people in charge, the programing. She also was bold in a sense that the leader in themselves need to be comfortable with the math at that conceptual level, that she was so bold by saying, like, if you’re not coming at it from a conceptual understanding as a leader, you’re not going to be in a great position to help that educator.
00:41:54:14 – 00:42:21:04
And then the educators not going to be a great position to help that student. So there’s that entwined with we have to be really strong with the roots, but the leader themselves have to be strong with the ropes and the branches of the tree, which are the pedagogical moves. We have to be able to be competent enough to model these lessons in front of our teachers so that they can see what it looks like in the classroom, but also where at the same time building their roots, their conceptual understanding and the mathematics.
00:42:21:04 – 00:42:41:13
So loving the big takeaways here from Evette and, Hey, if you’ve listened to this episode or our episodes before, we love for you to leave a rating and review of the episode. Just click that button right now. If this is new to you, please hit subscribe, give a few episodes and then leave a rating and review on your favorite podcast platform.
00:42:41:15 – 00:43:12:18
Hey, we would so appreciate those ratings and reviews, so thanks so much. Complete transcripts to read from the web or download and take with. You can be found over at McMath moments dot com forward slash Episode two for six that’s make math moments dot com forward slash episode two for six and just a quick heads up you may have noticed day one of 60 plus of our units of study are now completely fully open.
00:43:12:18 – 00:43:34:21
You do not have to be an Academy member to even grab the downloads. Everyone can have open access. Today, one of over 60 units of study. So head on over to make math moments dot com forward slash tasks. And guess what? That’s going to send you over to all of the 60 plus units and you can dig in there.
00:43:34:21 – 00:43:43:08
We hope you really enjoy all of those awesome math goodies. Well, until next time, I’m Kyle Pearce.
00:43:43:12 – 00:43:44:13
And I’m Jon or.
00:43:44:17 – 00:43:47:14
High fives for us.
00:43:47:16 – 00:43:52:14
And a high five for you.
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