Episode #248: How Do I Avoid Burnout and Still Achieve Success

Aug 28, 2023 | Podcast | 0 comments



Episode Summary:

In our latest episode, we dive into a topic of utmost importance: maintaining a harmonious equilibrium between achieving success and nurturing your well being as an educator. Join us as we explore invaluable insights that equip you with the tools to avoid burnout while making strides in your teaching journey.

Discover the art of sustaining the energy required to be an effective math teacher. We unravel practical strategies to strike a balance between the demands of teaching and preserving your own vitality, ensuring a sustainable and fulfilling career.

Learn the liberating lesson of acknowledging that you don’t have to do everything at all times. We delve into the power of setting realistic expectations and making peace with prioritization, freeing you from the burden of unnecessary stress.

Fuel your motivation to aim higher by forging a support network that uplifts you. Uncover the transformative influence of surrounding yourself with like-minded peers who share your ambitions, providing a nurturing environment to nurture your teaching fire.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How do I sustain the work needed to become an effective math teacher; 
  • How to make peace that you can’t do EVERYTHING all of the time; 
  • Why finding a support network can fuel your fire to strive for more; 
  • What structure helps me focus on what really matters in math classrooms; and, 
  • How priming your mindset can help you avoiding burnout; 


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District Leader Resources:

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Other Useful Resources and Supports: 

Make Math Moments Framework [Blog Article]

Make Math Moments Problem-Based Lessons & Units

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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00:00:00:06 – 00:00:19:04
Jon Orr
If we’re working as a teacher in the classroom, how are we trying to get that feedback? And that’s where your support group helps with that. The idea of having that Cygnet elegant person that you can communicate with and bounce ideas up, because that’s like that feedback loop that can keep you going. Like, okay, I got some affirmation, boom, let’s go to the next thing.

00:00:19:08 – 00:00:35:23
Jon Orr
Sometimes if you don’t have that, what can be helpful is, I think breaking down we said this you got your big objectives that you lofty like I want my classroom to look like that, but that’s too far away. Break it down into meaningful chunks. That’s why I was like, Let me just do one day at a time. What’s today’s goal?

00:00:35:24 – 00:00:58:12
Jon Orr
To help me get there? And I think if you make these little mini goals at the end of the day, you’re like, I’m going to celebrate this little mini success I had today. That’s enough to go to the next day.

00:00:58:14 – 00:01:03:06
Kyle Pearce
Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle Pearce.

00:01:03:06 – 00:01:05:21
Jon Orr
And I’m Jon Orr we are from makingmathmoments.com.

00:01:05:23 – 00:01:15:23
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.

00:01:15:24 – 00:01:23:11
Jon Orr
And we do that by helping you cultivate foster your mathematics program like a strong, healthy and balanced tree.

00:01:23:13 – 00:01:31:05
Kyle Pearce
If you master the six parts of an effective math program, the impact of your math program will grow and reach far and wide.

00:01:31:09 – 00:01:43:21
Jon Orr
Each week you’ll get the insight. Stop feeling overwhelmed, gain back your confidence and get back to enjoying the planning and facilitating of your mathematics program for the students. Or if you’re a district leader, the educators you serve.

00:01:44:00 – 00:02:01:14
Kyle Pearce
All right. Now, John, we’re going to dig right in. Today’s episode. It’s going to be just you and me, and we’re going to be riffing on this idea. This is actually sort of a pain point, a pebble in the shoe of so many math moment makers out there. It comes up so often and it just came up again.

00:02:01:14 – 00:02:23:22
Kyle Pearce
We literally just hung up with our academy. And a call for those who are unaware. Our digital platform, the Academy teachers from all over the world can join the academy, not only to engage in our courses, we have over ten courses over there. We have over 60 full problem based units. You may know listening to this, that day one is fully open.

00:02:23:22 – 00:03:02:03
Kyle Pearce
You can use it, download it however you want. But accessing all the content from the other days is for Academy members and also our District Improvement Plan members can join in these calls as well, and we do them at least once a month. And we just hung up with a group here today. And the question came up, John, the question again, and I feel like it rolls around in all of our minds whether you are a classroom teacher or maybe you’re listening to this and you’re like, I’m a leader and I feel like I’m dealing with the same pebble just on a much grander or larger scale.

00:03:02:05 – 00:03:28:18
Jon Orr
Yeah, for sure. And the question that we received in the live Q&A is how do I manage learning how to teach with tasks like problem based lessons that we talk about a lot here on the podcast, but also build my content knowledge, which we also talk about a lot here on the podcast as an essential component to effectively teach tasks and at the same time do both of those things and not burn out, not burn out.

00:03:28:19 – 00:03:56:04
Jon Orr
How do I do it all? And Kyle set the stage for where this question came from, but also the people who join us on these calls are not only just Academy members who are engaging in that Academy experience, but also people who are taking our 12 week online courses, which are standalone courses, but also our district partners from our District Improvement program, all of the teachers inside of the District Improvement program, all of our partners from across North America, also join in on those calls.

00:03:56:04 – 00:04:23:20
Jon Orr
So we have a great conversation from a variety of different sources. But this question, Kyle, we’ve talked about this question, I think a few times throughout the history of the podcast. I think this episode is to 48. So 247 previous episodes. I think we’ve talked about this question many times throughout there, but maybe not dedicated itself to a whole episode about burnout and how do I keep doing this without getting to the end of the week going like I cannot sustain what I’m trying to do?

00:04:23:22 – 00:04:48:01
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, and you know what? It’s interesting because the way you stated it, it always comes out in different ways, right? It’s never stated exactly like teaching through task, building content knowledge and not burned myself out. It it’s all the things right. And when you dig in, people start to share more than that. So this particular individual who shared this question actually went deeper and said like and I also want to do standards based grading and I want to.

00:04:48:06 – 00:05:14:04
Kyle Pearce
So really what they’re saying is like, how do I do it all and not burn myself out? And I would argue that the simple question and this wasn’t our answer just to say and we’ll dig in deeper here, but the simple question is you can’t you simply can’t do all of those things and not burn yourself out. But there is a way that over time we can work our way towards doing those things.

00:05:14:04 – 00:05:37:19
Kyle Pearce
And it does take time and it takes effort. And I would even argue, John, I wouldn’t say it’s definitely possible for anyone to do this on their own. It’s just a lot harder and it takes a lot more time. So I would argue, you and I, John, before we came together and decided that we would create our own little we’ll call it a little mentorship group for each other.

00:05:37:21 – 00:06:00:21
Kyle Pearce
We were doing this pretty much independently trying to figure this out because we didn’t necessarily have teachers down the hall doing what we were doing at the same time, not that they weren’t doing great things, they were doing awesome stuff. It just wasn’t doing the same things that we were looking to achieve at the same time. And we spent a lot of time independently spinning our wheels, kind of experimenting.

00:06:00:21 – 00:06:22:23
Kyle Pearce
And I think that’s a natural process. You have to investigate. Just like our students in class, you have to grapple, you have to work through things. But the one thing that’s really challenging is when you’re doing it on your own and you’re just grappling and you’re just trying and you don’t have that sort of will call it that facilitator, that mentor, someone there to help guide you along the journey.

00:06:22:23 – 00:06:51:06
Kyle Pearce
It really stretches out the amount of time, effort and of course, the chance of burnout. And when you and I came together, we started to see that, oh my gosh, I building this network actually helps us to try to figure things out together. Not that you had the answers for me or I had the answers for you, but that we can work together in order to figure out what makes sense, what matters, what matters now, and what matters later.

00:06:51:06 – 00:07:12:21
Kyle Pearce
And I think that’s something that I think everyone needs to really start reflecting on. When you’re going, okay, I want to be the best teacher I can be. That is essentially what it comes down to. Every teacher wants to do the best work they possibly can. Every district leader wants to be the best district leader they can. And that means you’ve got to do all of these things.

00:07:12:23 – 00:07:38:15
Kyle Pearce
However, the reality is we can’t do all of the things or we can’t do them well. And also not burn out. So I guess the question then becomes is how does someone who’s listening to this and maybe it resonates with you. A lot of people, if you’re listening to this, when it first comes out, you’re probably thinking, Hey, it’s the beginning of a new school year and this is the year that I’m going to X, Y, or Z, or I’m going to be the best teacher ever.

00:07:38:20 – 00:08:00:06
Kyle Pearce
Where does someone begin so that they don’t just get all overwhelmed? Some people just get so overwhelmed that you’re like, I’ll worry about it later. I don’t have time now. I’ve got to get my class set up. I got a new course this year that I’ve never taught before, a new grade level. How do we actually take a step back, take a breath, and actually start taking that step forward?

00:08:00:09 – 00:08:21:00
Jon Orr
Yeah, because I think when you think about the big picture and I think I still think this way a lot of times is you imagine you visualize the classroom room that you want, you visualize you being the teacher, that you want to be in that classroom. When you visualize that and you’re like, Oh, I’ve seen this resource and I’ve heard about this idea and I’m trying to think about that.

00:08:21:00 – 00:08:43:07
Jon Orr
And all of these things give you this visualization of the classroom that you’re striving for. A lot of times that’s far down the road and it feels so big. There’s so many changes that we have to make to get there. And that part is that visualization I think is a deterrent because about what are you going to do now to get there?

00:08:43:07 – 00:08:59:23
Jon Orr
Like I want to do it all right. And that’s where the burnout is going to happen, is like, I got to this, this, this. I like how you brought up finding your support network is a piece of that, right? It’s a piece of if I have a support network, I can make that visualization and it might feel more attainable.

00:09:00:00 – 00:09:17:14
Jon Orr
But you’re still at that point where it’s far away. And where do I take that first step? And I think that’s the most important part, is not to think about where, yeah, we want to have these lofty visualizations of where we want to go, but we have to make peace. We have to be okay that we might not get there for a while and that’s okay.

00:09:17:16 – 00:09:37:17
Jon Orr
What is that one thing I’m going to do now? And it might take me a while to become comfortable with that one thing and then that one thing it turns into what’s the next thing Once I feel comfortable and I feel like that’s what we did, I think we took little baby steps. And I think a lot of times you hear about classrooms that are not yours and you hear about classrooms that are different.

00:09:37:17 – 00:09:59:07
Jon Orr
Like I said before, and you’re visualizing that long distance between there and there. But keep in mind that we took baby steps for ten years to for our classrooms to be where they’re at now. And for us, it was those like, I’m going to take this little step. And for me, for a long time, I remember thinking when we first joined up, I remember thinking, I know what I’m looking for.

00:09:59:07 – 00:10:19:02
Jon Orr
And I think having that visualization, which what we call our big objectives, I want this here, I want these big objectives. I think nailing down for yourself what you want is really important, but then focusing a little bit more narrow on what’s that first step. We call that an action step or a key result. It’s like I want to get here.

00:10:19:04 – 00:10:35:22
Jon Orr
And so if we can get there for me, for a long time it was today I’m going to go into my class and I know I’m going to want that down the road. But what’s the one thing today that I remember thinking, I can take a picture of it. I want to take a picture of this thing I want to track in.

00:10:35:22 – 00:10:58:04
Jon Orr
That thing I wanted to track was we focused for a long time on just student engagement, and I wanted engagement to be a priority for us for a while before we shift it to feeling sense making. But I remember and I still have this going into the class, what’s the thing I can take a picture up today that helps me stay on track for meeting some of these goals I’ve set for myself, and those are small goals, So I could take a picture of it.

00:10:58:06 – 00:11:17:02
Jon Orr
You could post it in social media that could help you with some of that accountability. Like, Oh, I got a post today. Sometimes you can just post and then set the privacy to yourself. And that’s a reminder to yourself next year that you did that. It’s something that’s like every day I’m going to take a picture of something I did well today to achieve or be on that path that I want.

00:11:17:04 – 00:11:25:02
Jon Orr
But I think setting that pathway is really important, setting those goals up. And that’s a lot of the work we’re doing with some of the districts we’re working with right now, too.

00:11:25:05 – 00:12:00:23
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, I was just going to say what I’m hearing you say is there has to be some intentionality there. And the one thing that I want to caution might not be the right word, but I guess raising awareness of is that oftentimes what happens specifically in mathematics we’re finding and John, you know this in all the district calls that we’ve had and over this past year, a couple of years that we’re seeing that in mathematics, it’s like even when a teacher or maybe there’s like a support system in place, there’s an instructional coach or there’s someone there in the leadership side that are trying to help educators.

00:12:00:23 – 00:12:19:19
Kyle Pearce
Oftentimes it’s like they’re helping them to become more maybe intentional around the pedagogy. But the problem or the challenge I see is even if I do take that time to kind of go, what do I want to see? What do I want to see in this classroom? The real question is what do we need to see in the classroom?

00:12:19:19 – 00:12:46:03
Kyle Pearce
And I feel like in mathematics, there’s a lot of that going on where we’re trying to do things because it seems reasonable or it seems logical, but we don’t have a ton of support in place. And this is across North America and beyond. We don’t have enough of the will call it the knowledgeable others there to be able to be that guide to help people land on what does matter and what doesn’t matter.

00:12:46:03 – 00:13:24:06
Kyle Pearce
So I think there’s a little bit of challenge there as well. And I’m guessing there’s some people listening matter like, okay, John, I did sit down. I did think about the different things I wanted to do in my classroom. But then when I did them, I didn’t get the result I thought I was going to get. And one of the big challenges that we’re seeing in many of our organizations is that we aren’t in a great position in mathematics to be able to actually provide the support to educators who are making those objectives, like you stated, but then helping them to bump into what really matters.

00:13:24:06 – 00:13:42:21
Kyle Pearce
So it’s not just what you think you need, but it’s also what you really need and that what you really need oftentimes is really just a big experiment going on out there and that can make things really, really challenging. So I would argue whether you’re listening in, you’re a classroom teacher or whether you are on the support side.

00:13:42:21 – 00:14:12:09
Kyle Pearce
So you’re an administrator, you’re an instructional coach, you’re a coordinator, maybe you’re superintendent or a director is. We have to start thinking about in my situation, how can I lean on some sort of structure or some sort of guidance? And for us here at make math moments, and we’re not saying that you have to follow this one, but it’s the one that we use when we’re working with our educators and our district leaders is our math program Tree.

00:14:12:15 – 00:14:36:07
Kyle Pearce
And we have slight variation depending if it’s a leader or if it’s a classroom teacher. But the reason we do that is because we need something to hang our hat on. And literally, I guess you can hang it on a branch of the tree, but you need something that’s going to help you when you’re trying to craft that intentionality between what it is that you’re trying to accomplish and being able to make it real in your mind.

00:14:36:09 – 00:15:15:04
Kyle Pearce
How does it all fit? John You and I have chatted with so many different district leaders and so often the conversation works or heads towards this place where it’s like there’s this puzzle and people are moving all these great puzzle pieces around. I know this puzzle piece is really important and it has a place, but I don’t know where it fits and I don’t know what the puzzle looks like once it’s together and when I think about that analogy, when I’m doing this in the classroom for my own classroom, do I have clarity around my own puzzle Once it’s put together and then which puzzle pieces make the most sense for me to be pushing

00:15:15:04 – 00:15:35:07
Kyle Pearce
now And then finally, the last piece is Am I in the position where I’m actually feeling I have the support to push that piece at this time? Right? Do I want to pick up this puzzle piece? The puzzle pieces are all the same size, but I’m going to argue that this one’s a lot heavier and a lot harder to move than this puzzle piece over here.

00:15:35:11 – 00:15:50:20
Kyle Pearce
And this one might only be harder or heavier because maybe I don’t fully understand it yet. Maybe I don’t have the supports in place. Right. If I want a content, knowledge is an easy one, right? The roots of our try to pick up that puzzle piece and I go, Holy smokes, this one’s heavy. Why is it so heavy?

00:15:50:20 – 00:16:19:02
Kyle Pearce
Well, math is super complex, but even more so, it makes the puzzle piece so much harder because there’s so few people out there in support roles that can actually help teachers to develop that content knowledge. And that is a really, really difficult situation. So it’s like, where do I go? How do I do this and how much time and effort to I commit to each of these pieces to ensure that I’m getting those mini wins?

00:16:19:02 – 00:16:39:12
Kyle Pearce
We always call them quick wins, right? Because I’m not getting any quick wins in the work I’m doing. It’s going to lead me to potentially giving up burning out. However you want to articulate it. Ultimately, at the end of the day, if I don’t feel like the work I’m doing is leading to anything beneficial, anything productive, that’s what causes burnout, right?

00:16:39:12 – 00:16:59:22
Kyle Pearce
It’s like we’re doing so much, but so little is happening. You will not burnout. If you were working as hard as you are now and things were working better, if you were like, Wow, when I do that, this really works, you wouldn’t be burnt out. You’d be energized by it. You’d be like, Holy smokes, I can do this and I can do that and I can do this when I’m getting burnt out.

00:16:59:22 – 00:17:07:17
Kyle Pearce
It means that there’s something missing here. It’s like I’m doing a lot of stuff, but nothing really at all at the same time.

00:17:07:17 – 00:17:26:22
Jon Orr
Well, I think it comes down to the setting a goal and then working towards that goal and then getting the feedback you need to keep going. Right? That happens in our classroom too. Kids are going to get burnt out of math class if we’re not providing them that feedback for them to feel like they’re making gains in the work every single day.

00:17:26:23 – 00:17:30:08
Jon Orr
That’s what keeps us going in to strive and not feeling burnout.

00:17:30:08 – 00:17:40:21
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, growth mindset messages are nice for kids, right? But I’m not getting the math right. People are like, I tried growth mindset messages, but the kids aren’t feeling or seeing the growth.

00:17:41:01 – 00:17:41:21
Jon Orr

00:17:41:21 – 00:17:43:03
Kyle Pearce
This isn’t working. Exactly.

00:17:43:03 – 00:18:06:09
Jon Orr
They’re not getting that consistent regular touchpoints to feel like they’re making progress. That’s where kids are. Like, I’m tossing my hands up. I just remember I played a lot of basketball as a kid and in my teenage years at high competitive levels, and I got to a point where I think all the work I was putting in five practices a week, we’re going hard, we’re traveling all over the place.

00:18:06:11 – 00:18:24:22
Jon Orr
But I feel like I think I hit a point where I was putting a ton of work in but not experiencing the gain anymore that I experienced. Maybe when I was 13 to 15, I experienced a big gain and you could feel it. You could feel it while we were playing. You feel it while you’re practice. Your coach is giving you that feedback.

00:18:24:22 – 00:18:45:06
Jon Orr
The games helped give you that reaffirmation that whatever work you’re putting in, you’re experiencing some success, you’re feeling happy. And then when I got older, that didn’t come as frequent and that’s when I started to feel burnout. I was going to practice all this time, but then not feeling the gain. And that’s where that burnout happens. It’s like, I don’t want to go to practice today.

00:18:45:08 – 00:19:08:17
Jon Orr
Whereas before I was like, I’m, I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go. And I think, as I said, I just made the analogy that our students feel like that in class. If we’re working as a teacher in the classroom, how are we trying to get that feedback? And that’s where your support group helps with that. The idea of having that significant person that you can communicate with and bounce ideas up because that’s like that feedback loop that can keep you going.

00:19:08:17 – 00:19:27:02
Jon Orr
Like, okay, I got some affirmation, boom, let’s go to the next thing. Sometimes if you don’t have that, what can be helpful is, I think breaking down I said this, you got your big objectives that you’re lofty like, I want my classroom to look like that, but that’s too far away. Break it down into meaningful chunks. That’s why I was like, Let me just do one day at a time.

00:19:27:02 – 00:19:43:04
Jon Orr
What’s today’s goal? To help me get there? And I think if you make these little mini goals, at the end of the day, you’re like, I’m going to celebrate this little mini success I had today. That’s enough to go to the next day. I remember I was listening to I just know that this was a practice I put in for a year.

00:19:43:06 – 00:19:57:21
Jon Orr
Is that the end of the day? You write down three wins you had that day. We talk about wins all the time, Kyle Even the one we just hung up with. Every time we start one of our calls, our live Q&A calls, our district calls with our district leaders, we always start with our big wins. What’s a little win?

00:19:57:21 – 00:20:16:18
Jon Orr
What’s a win you had today? You’re just saying them out loud. How is that feedback loop? So I remember that for over a year I was writing down three wins I had that day. Now a win is almost anything because a win can be like I actually failed at something. But I learned, right? It’s either we win or we learn.

00:20:16:18 – 00:20:31:03
Jon Orr
It’s not like we failed. It’s like, what did you learn from that potential failure? That’s actually a win because you’ve learned something. You can write that down as one of your wins. So you can have wins that you actually feel pretty proud of. But then you also have maybe a failure. Just write down what you learned three wins.

00:20:31:05 – 00:20:56:00
Jon Orr
Then right after that, you write down what you want to win tomorrow, and then that sets up your little mini goal you go into tomorrow and you’re going to either say These were wins or they’re learners. And all of a sudden, every day you’re writing and reaffirming some of these wins you’re having. And that right there, if you don’t have your support group, that’s your way to keep that information happening so that you’re pumped to go to the next day and are not going to burn out.

00:20:56:02 – 00:21:12:14
Kyle Pearce
I love it. I love it. And when you really think about it, too, and I think this idea when we talk about these quick wins or these small goals is many wins at your referencing here. If you think about all of those things that you want to do in your class, oftentimes they’re like big, right? They’re really big.

00:21:12:14 – 00:21:28:20
Kyle Pearce
And what I’m hearing you say is, okay, so we need to know those big things. And oftentimes you’ve heard us talk about it on the podcast quite a bit. We talk about the wish list, right? I mean, we’ve done the wish list with so many educators live at workshops, we’ve done it with so many district leaders in our district.

00:21:28:20 – 00:21:50:03
Kyle Pearce
Mentorship calls. And really, you and I, John, we could essentially recite the list that comes out pretty much every time, right? Maybe not word for word, but ultimately it’s all the same stuff. We all want the same things. But the difference, though, is that these things are massive, right? They’re huge. And if I think about that and I go, okay, I want all of those things, that’s awesome.

00:21:50:03 – 00:22:12:03
Kyle Pearce
But what do I need to do to get there? And that’s where these mini wins sort of come out. That’s a massive win if that’s a big win and that’s where I want to get to, then I’m going to have to start thinking about which ones kind of group together, which ones am I doing well with already? Which ones seem like more in the near term for me than in the long term?

00:22:12:09 – 00:22:35:22
Kyle Pearce
Which ones have I not even considered yet? It’s not to say that you don’t ever want to think about them at all, but let’s put that in the maybe the too hard pile for now. Right. A lot of people listening may know that I love reading about investments and investing. And Warren Buffett, when he was considering he one of the greatest investors in the world, and even to this day, the man’s like 95, 98, something like that.

00:22:36:03 – 00:22:59:16
Kyle Pearce
When an investment comes to his desk, he basically right away puts it through a filter and says, is it in the easy pile or in the too hard pile? Right. And really, if you think about that process, everything in life could be done in the same way, at least at the beginning. Right? So when I look at these mass of wish list items, I really should be starting and thinking to myself, okay, which ones are in the too hard pile right away?

00:22:59:20 – 00:23:20:24
Kyle Pearce
Not saying it’s thrown out. He doesn’t throw them out. That’s the other thing. He doesn’t go like, Nope, rip it up and throw it away. Never consider it. He puts it in the too hard pile. It’s the too hard pile for now. Doesn’t mean it’s the too hard pile for later. And the same can happen here. What’s going to go in the easy pile where you can hit the easy button and you’re like, Whoa, that one I feel like I can do.

00:23:21:01 – 00:23:39:21
Kyle Pearce
And in many cases you’re going to go these wish list items. None of them are easy. Okay, that’s fine. Which one are you further ahead on? And then when you decide, we usually say picking three, but you can change that. But you need to commit to what it is. Three is easy to remember. It’s easy to stay focused on.

00:23:39:23 – 00:24:00:03
Kyle Pearce
You look at your three and then you have to start thinking about what would it take, What is the path going to look like to get there? What do I need to start doing tomorrow that’s going to get me closer to this bigger goal? And the hard part is I can’t get that big goal tomorrow necessarily, but I can do something small, right?

00:24:00:03 – 00:24:28:04
Kyle Pearce
I can start by doing one little thing. And I loved your idea of like not only thinking about your three quick wins from the current day, but then also setting yourself up for a quick win. The next day. And the reality is, I’m going to guess that if I go into every day doing it and I remember doing this for many years as both a classroom teacher and as a district leader, I would go into the day and I was like, I’m going to tackle it all.

00:24:28:06 – 00:24:51:05
Kyle Pearce
And how many times you come back and you feel like you just got thrown around the ring totally right. You feel he was like, Yeah, total failure. Hard to recognize that. First of all, you probably had a ton of wins anyway, but they were over emphasized or what was on my mind. I focused on all the negative. So if I did this little thing and I was like, Tomorrow, what’s going to be my win that I’m after?

00:24:51:09 – 00:25:05:16
Kyle Pearce
And if you do that one thing, you’re going to do that one thing really well, and that’s probably going to be better than how much you could have given to all of the things that you really were trying hard to do but probably didn’t feel good about at the end of the day.

00:25:05:18 – 00:25:24:06
Jon Orr
For sure. For sure. And the beauty part about setting those three wins for the next day is and if you do them before, I used to do them before I go to bed, but you can do them before you leave the classroom. And what you’re doing is you’re priming your brain to look for them, right? You’re priming your brain to look for the wins.

00:25:24:08 – 00:25:40:16
Jon Orr
And so then what you said, it’s like if you didn’t have them, you would think the whole day’s a wash. So it’s kind of like one of those experiences where you think you leave school and you feel like you had a bad day and really you had probably one negative experience could have been with a student that day.

00:25:40:18 – 00:25:56:02
Jon Orr
But it clouds your judgment on the rest of the day. That happened to me. I just come out of there like I had such a just rough day, but it was really like one experience that we just keep thinking about because you’re thinking about how to make it better. You think about tomorrow, but it clouded all the other great experiences you had that day.

00:25:56:06 – 00:26:13:15
Jon Orr
If you prime your brain the day before saying, These are the things I’m going to look for. You go into that day, you get to reflect on those three things at the end of day because, oh yeah, I did have this negative experience today, but this was good and I hit the win here. Now you’re back to being in that positive, getting that reaffirmation and you’re on your way to feeling that, not burnout.

00:26:13:17 – 00:26:40:06
Kyle Pearce
I thought I had my big takeaway for today and again, kind of to the quick win idea, we often talk about our big takeaways on different episodes and I thought I had one, but you just gave me one that I think might even be bigger. And this goes beyond the math classroom. I think it’s a daily mindset shift that is so hard for people to do and it’s so easy to get sucked into a negative thought.

00:26:40:08 – 00:27:03:15
Kyle Pearce
But that idea of priming and I’ve read so much about it and you just kind of triggered it for me that when you set your brain in prime, your brain to look for those wins. But also I wanted to kind of think about it in priming your brain to look for the positive, right? Just in life in general, you are setting yourself up to stay motivated, to stay energized.

00:27:03:15 – 00:27:30:18
Kyle Pearce
Whereas on the other hand, if I allow that one experience you had mentioned a pouring counter with one student, maybe you work with 90 students in a day, 89 others were positive or neutral and this one is negative. And now what you’ve done is you primed your brain to look for other negative in your world. And I promise you, there’s a lot of negative things that happen to you in a day that you normally don’t notice if you’re feeling positively right.

00:27:30:18 – 00:27:55:12
Kyle Pearce
But when you’re feeling negatively, everything feels negative, right? So it happens not only in the classroom, but then also when we leave the classroom, we head home. When I think about this idea of burnout, what I’m hearing and what I guess my takeaway here is we feel burnt out when we’re dwelling on all the things we didn’t do but wanted to instead of flipping it the other way around.

00:27:55:12 – 00:28:20:08
Kyle Pearce
And what I’ve kind of taken from this episode and all the work we’ve been doing with teachers and district leaders is when we focus on less and go deeper with them, we can ignore some of the noise over here, right? And it’s like, it’s not that we don’t want to become better teachers over there, it’s just that we want to stay positive and we want that positivity to drive us to do the work that we committed to do that intentionality.

00:28:20:10 – 00:28:42:03
Kyle Pearce
And that’s going to lead us to get further down the path so that we can grow from those three. And then one can drop off and another new one can come back in and that energy is going to drive you forward. So I like that idea of priming that you just said for me is the big takeaway. So how are you priming your brain to go into tomorrow’s lesson?

00:28:42:07 – 00:29:03:11
Kyle Pearce
How are you priming your brain to go into that conversation with your partner or with friends and family or with other aspects of your life? And my priming it in a way that’s going to help me see more positive or am I priming it? And it’s not intentional, but priming it to see more negative and to feel more negatively and to feel that sort of drain.

00:29:03:13 – 00:29:17:02
Kyle Pearce
I wonder if we can make some small changes in order to at least eliminate that burnout feeling and start feeling more energy and feeling like the hard work we’re doing is actually paying off over the long term.

00:29:17:04 – 00:29:49:19
Jon Orr
I think that’s a great place to leave off here for today. Kyle We’ve given you some things to think about and we’ve given you some next steps. Think about our goals, think about our kind of lofty classroom experiences that we’re after, and then how to make it attainable so that we don’t burn out. And when I think about our classroom tree and our district programing mathematics tree and all six of the areas that we talk about, the trunk, the roads, the soil, the water, the sunlight, the limbs, the branches, the leaves, I think we talked about all and I think that’s sometimes when you talk mindset, which is the soil, water, sunlight specifically, right.

00:29:49:20 – 00:30:06:23
Jon Orr
That when we talk about the soil, water, sunlight, that’s important for us to think about what fuels the work that we’re going to do, what fuels the trees growth. It’s the soil, water, sunlight. And our mindset is what fuels the work we’re going to do. If we don’t have the right mindset going into the work, then our tree can’t grow.

00:30:06:23 – 00:30:31:07
Jon Orr
Just like if you don’t have the soil, water, the sunlight, you can’t grow your tree as well as you need to. So I think we focus talking about big mindset and where our goals are. For sure, there. But it trickles into the other areas, right? That trickles into the trunk of the tree, which is vision setting, which is goal setting, which is thinking about the leadership if you’re a district leader, but also as a classroom teacher, our trunk represents our classroom pillars and what we value in that class.

00:30:31:09 – 00:30:52:17
Jon Orr
And if we’re talking about mindset and we’re talking about school setting, you’re you’re automatically going to start start thinking about how do I communicate that to my students and how can I help them with their mindset? How can I help them with our classroom culture? It spills into that area When you’re thinking about what your classroom can look like down the road, you’re automatically thinking about like, How do I get there?

00:30:52:17 – 00:31:11:17
Jon Orr
And right, those mini steps are going to trickle into how do I build my content knowledge, how do I build my pedagogical knowledge? What is my professional development plan? Right? That’s the roots, that’s the branches, that’s the limps. So we’re talking about all the areas. And again, when we talk about a certain aspect, we end up always talking about all six areas because there are interconnected, right?

00:31:11:17 – 00:31:29:04
Jon Orr
They are all part of the same. QRI All things kind of spill into the other areas for sure. So we encourage you to think about what your lofty goals are, but then what are your immediate goals and how can you set yourself up for success, but also not burnout? What are you going to do today? What action are you taking from today’s episode?

00:31:29:06 – 00:31:47:23
Jon Orr
I would encourage you to start writing it down, share it with somebody, Find that support network. You can even grab, say, your day planner at the beginning or the back of the planner. You’re going to start going, What does that look like? What is my little goal today at the top of your day planner? It could be three of the goals that you’re going to look for tomorrow going into the classroom.

00:31:47:23 – 00:31:53:18
Jon Orr
That’s how you can take some of this learning away and so that it doesn’t wash away, like we say, footprints in the sand.

00:31:53:22 – 00:32:13:20
Kyle Pearce
I love it. Well said there, John. Friends, if you feel like what we discussed here today is helpful for you, maybe you have a quick win from today’s episode. All we ask is that you do share this podcast with someone else. One of the best ways you could do it. It’s leaving us a rating and a review on your favorite podcast platform.

00:32:13:20 – 00:32:36:21
Kyle Pearce
Be it Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, whatever podcast platform you’re listening to. And the reason we ask you to do that is so that more math moment makers, just like you can find this content so that they can push their practice further. One of the other Q&A questions that come up quite often is how do I motivate the other educators in my building, on my team, things along those lines.

00:32:36:21 – 00:32:57:10
Kyle Pearce
And this is one of those ways that you can do that by taking a small little opportunity to try to help more educators start thinking about their practice a little That will lead to something big in the long run. So do a quick favor and help more math movement makers around the world Find this podcast just like you.

00:32:57:12 – 00:33:15:07
Jon Orr
And if you’re looking for any of the resources that we chatted about here, we’re going to link them in our show notes page on McMath moments dot com for it’s episode 248 That’s McMath Moments dot com for episode 248 248 episodes. And here’s a quick tip. If you are a new listener and you’re like, Man, I don’t want to go back.

00:33:15:07 – 00:33:32:14
Jon Orr
It’s a lot of listening. We don’t want you to feel burnout, right? We don’t want you to feel that burnout of going like it’s too much. What we would recommend is this episode. We talked about a pebble that’s in a lot of people’s shoes, and the title of this episode reflects that pebble, and that’s how we’ve titled almost all of our episodes.

00:33:32:14 – 00:33:39:06
Jon Orr
So go back to scan. You don’t have to listen to them in order. I think some people do think they do. They have to do that. Kyle It is not like a serial show.

00:33:39:06 – 00:33:40:23
Kyle Pearce
This is not a Netflix series.

00:33:40:23 – 00:33:55:00
Jon Orr
Yeah, so scan the titles, pick episodes based off the titles that help you address the pebbles in your shoe and listen to those episodes. You’ll be glad you took that order instead of starting at the beginning and going to the end.

00:33:55:06 – 00:34:11:17
Kyle Pearce
Awesome. While friends, thanks for listening to the Making Mouth Moments That Matter podcast where we help you grow your mathematics program like a strong, healthy and balanced tree so your impact can reach far and wide. Until next time, I’m Kyle Pearce.

00:34:11:17 – 00:34:12:11
Jon Orr
And I’m Jon Orr.

00:34:12:11 – 00:34:13:21
Kyle Pearce
Or high fives for.

00:34:13:21 – 00:34:31:07
Jon Orr
Us and a high five for you.


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The Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast with Kyle Pearce & Jon Orr
Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building a math classroom that you wish you were in.


Download the 2-page printable 3 Act Math Tip Sheet to ensure that you have the best start to your journey using 3 Act math Tasks to spark curiosity and fuel sense making in your math classroom!

3 Act Math Tip Sheet


Each lesson consists of:

Each Make Math Moments Problem Based Lesson consists of a Teacher Guide to lead you step-by-step through the planning process to ensure your lesson runs without a hitch!

Each Teacher Guide consists of:

  • Intentionality of the lesson;
  • A step-by-step walk through of each phase of the lesson;
  • Visuals, animations, and videos unpacking big ideas, strategies, and models we intend to emerge during the lesson;
  • Sample student approaches to assist in anticipating what your students might do;
  • Resources and downloads including Keynote, Powerpoint, Media Files, and Teacher Guide printable PDF; and,
  • Much more!

Each Make Math Moments Problem Based Lesson begins with a story, visual, video, or other method to Spark Curiosity through context.

Students will often Notice and Wonder before making an estimate to draw them in and invest in the problem.

After student voice has been heard and acknowledged, we will set students off on a Productive Struggle via a prompt related to the Spark context.

These prompts are given each lesson with the following conditions:

  • No calculators are to be used; and,
  • Students are to focus on how they can convince their math community that their solution is valid.

Students are left to engage in a productive struggle as the facilitator circulates to observe and engage in conversation as a means of assessing formatively.

The facilitator is instructed through the Teacher Guide on what specific strategies and models could be used to make connections and consolidate the learning from the lesson.

Often times, animations and walk through videos are provided in the Teacher Guide to assist with planning and delivering the consolidation.

A review image, video, or animation is provided as a conclusion to the task from the lesson.

While this might feel like a natural ending to the context students have been exploring, it is just the beginning as we look to leverage this context via extensions and additional lessons to dig deeper.

At the end of each lesson, consolidation prompts and/or extensions are crafted for students to purposefully practice and demonstrate their current understanding. 

Facilitators are encouraged to collect these consolidation prompts as a means to engage in the assessment process and inform next moves for instruction.

In multi-day units of study, Math Talks are crafted to help build on the thinking from the previous day and build towards the next step in the developmental progression of the concept(s) we are exploring.

Each Math Talk is constructed as a string of related problems that build with intentionality to emerge specific big ideas, strategies, and mathematical models. 

Make Math Moments Problem Based Lessons and Day 1 Teacher Guides are openly available for you to leverage and use with your students without becoming a Make Math Moments Academy Member.

Use our OPEN ACCESS multi-day problem based units!

Make Math Moments Problem Based Lessons and Day 1 Teacher Guides are openly available for you to leverage and use with your students without becoming a Make Math Moments Academy Member.

MMM Unit - Snack Time Fractions Unit


Partitive Division Resulting in a Fraction

Shot Put Multi Day Problem Based Unit - Algebraic Substitution


Equivalence and Algebraic Substitution

Wooly Worm Race - Representing and Adding Fractions


Fractions and Metric Units


Scavenger Hunt - Data Management and Finding The Mean


Represent Categorical Data & Explore Mean

Downloadable resources including blackline mastershandouts, printable Tips Sheetsslide shows, and media files do require a Make Math Moments Academy Membership.


Pedagogically aligned for teachers of K through Grade 12 with content specific examples from Grades 3 through Grade 10.

In our self-paced, 12-week Online Workshop, you'll learn how to craft new and transform your current lessons to Spark Curiosity, Fuel Sense Making, and Ignite Your Teacher Moves to promote resilient problem solvers.