Episode #261: What Is Your Definition of Success In A Math Classroom? – A Math Mentoring Moment

Nov 27, 2023 | Podcast | 0 comments



Episode Summary:

We welcome back Ryan Kinzler, an 8th grade teacher from Pittsburg. Ryan is here to fill us in on the changes he’s made in his classroom since he last spoke with us over two years ago. 

He shares how the teacher moves he implemented resulted in his best year ever and then subsequently followed by his worst year ever. 

In this episode we dig into the differences between the two years and help Ryan set himself up for another great year. 

This is another Math Mentoring Moment episode where we talk with a member of the Math Moment Maker Community who is working through problems of practice and together we brainstorm possible next steps and strategies to overcome them. 

What You’ll Learn:

  • Why avoiding the rush to advice giving is critical while students are productively struggling; 
  • Why focusing on listening and observing trumps covering the curriculum; 
  • Why teachers should seriously consider mentorship or coaching conversations during the summer to help make bigger shifts in your practice;
  • Why it is important to think of your own definition of success in your classroom; 
  • How to help students with their own definition of success and giving them steps to achieve it; and, 
  • How can you help students with mindset by rewarding the behaviour and not the result.

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. Book a short conversation with our team now.  

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00:00:00:13 – 00:00:21:20
Ryan Kinzler
And there’s a reason why I came up with this definition, too, because just background, I think there’s almost three different definitions of success that are portrayed to US students based on different adults situations here and their own self identity. I guess for lack of a better word there. So I can get into.

00:00:21:22 – 00:00:36:16
Kyle Pearce
Their math moment because we welcome back Ryan Kinzler, an eighth grade teacher from Pittsburgh and writes here to fill us in on the changes he’s made in his classroom since he last spoke with us over two years.

00:00:36:16 – 00:00:37:23
Jon Orr
Ago. Yeah, it’s been a while.

00:00:38:02 – 00:00:53:09
Kyle Pearce
On this episode, he’s going to be sharing how the teacher moves or maneuvers he’s implemented resulted in his best year ever. And then Sub6 only followed by one of his most challenging years ever.

00:00:53:14 – 00:01:16:05
Jon Orr
And that’s what we’re going to dig into. We’re going to dig into the differences between the two years and help Ryan set himself up for another great year. Folks, this is another math mentoring Moment episode where we speak with a member of the math homemaker community, a person just like you who is working through problems of practice. And together, we brainstorm possible next steps and strategies to overcome them.

00:01:16:07 – 00:01:52:00
Kyle Pearce
If you want to be our next math mentoring moment. Guest you should head over to make math moments dot com forward slash mentor. In under 2 minutes you will have a time booked with us so we can dig into that pebble that’s rocking around in those math teacher shoes. Ooh. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast.

00:01:52:01 – 00:01:53:09
Kyle Pearce
I’m Kyle Pearce.

00:01:53:09 – 00:01:56:03
Jon Orr
And I’m Jon Orr, we are from makemathmoments.com.

00:01:56:05 – 00:02:06:10
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.

00:02:06:15 – 00:02:21:04
Jon Orr
And we do that by helping you cultivate factor your mathematics program like a strong, healthy and balanced tree. And if you master the six parts of an effective mathematics program, the impact of your program is going to grow and reach far and wide.

00:02:21:06 – 00:02:47:22
Kyle Pearce
Every week you’re going to gain the insight you need to stop feeling overwhelmed, gain back your confidence and get back to enjoying the planning and facilitating of your mathematics program. For the students or the math educators that you serve. Well, my friends. Yes. Let’s dig into this math mentoring moment episode. Ryan is such an awesome, awesome and reflective educator.

00:02:48:03 – 00:02:58:18
Kyle Pearce
John, I don’t know about you, but I really felt like my wheels were turning during this conversation, so I’m sure the math moment made her community your wheels are going to get turned into.

00:02:58:20 – 00:02:59:14
Jon Orr
Let’s go.

00:02:59:16 – 00:03:22:05
Kyle Pearce
Hey, Ryan, thanks for coming back to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. It’s been over or just about two years since we last connected, and I’m sure there are many, many challenges that you’ve overcome since then. But as always, once you start working on a challenge, new ones seem to emerge. So do us a favor here, Ryan.

00:03:22:05 – 00:03:31:05
Kyle Pearce
Remind everyone where you come into us from. What is your education in context and how are things going in your world recently?

00:03:31:07 – 00:03:58:11
Ryan Kinzler
Sure. Well, thank you, Kyle and John, for having me back. I really appreciate it. My name is Ryan Kinzler. I am an eighth grade math teacher in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We’re going to be entering year nine this year. I think so. Yeah, I’ve been been pretty busy since the last time I spoke with you guys. And actually, I got to admit, I spoke with you two years ago in the summer, and that school year was probably my most effective school year.

00:03:58:13 – 00:04:00:16
Ryan Kinzler
Was very honest with you.

00:04:00:18 – 00:04:16:05
Jon Orr
Tell us a little more about that. What makes it more? Because I think if you’re listening to this live, you’re like two years ago, something crazy was going on, too. So people are like, that was our worst year. And Ryan’s like, This is my best year. So Ryan, fill us in. What do you feel like? What was so great about it?

00:04:16:11 – 00:04:51:16
Ryan Kinzler
When we talked last time? We talked about a lot how there’s so many little tiny maneuvers that you could do in the classroom and how to combine them all effectively because they don’t necessarily always fit with each other. There’s different avenues you could take. And I guess I tried a lot more. My students were really engaging and there was a lot more conversation, especially at whiteboards that allow for some of those little things that I was afraid to try a bunch of different ones and how they would work.

00:04:51:18 – 00:05:11:23
Ryan Kinzler
They actually all worked. The students were very resilient. There’s actually other adults in the room like flabbergasted how well they were doing compared to previous years. So it was almost reassuring that when you take chances, sometimes things work out. So that was really, really cool. And the ironic part is the year after that. So last year complete opposite.

00:05:12:00 – 00:05:13:18
Jon Orr
So yeah.

00:05:13:20 – 00:05:24:15
Ryan Kinzler
I was actually really defeated at the end of the year. So when you guys reached out and said, Hey, you want to come back on? I kind of like little, little sparks. So thank you for doing that because I needed that for sure to.

00:05:24:16 – 00:05:47:19
Jon Orr
Awesome, Awesome will definitely dig in to say this last year for sure and kind of kind of get your opinion on what you think the change was. But before we do that, you mentioned, you know, there’s a lot of little maneuvers that someone has to put into place to kind of create that environment. What would you say was the most effective maneuver that you put into place and why do you think that was the case?

00:05:47:22 – 00:06:22:08
Ryan Kinzler
This might sound weird, but listening was the most effective maneuver. We talk about all these things that teachers can do, all these different tasks, but listening to your students and being patient and not trying to give feedback right away, allowing the feedback to organically come out and come out in a way that is going to be receptive by them instead of you trying to rush to feedback is probably the biggest thing I learned there and kind of allowing them to be themselves.

00:06:22:08 – 00:06:43:15
Ryan Kinzler
So my classroom definitely got louder so people from the outside might be like, it’s chaotic and they’re he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but there was a passing of the ownership sort of thing. So instead of you telling them what to do, you were there as an assistant, as a guiding voice instead of the demanding voice, if that makes sense.

00:06:43:17 – 00:07:02:19
Jon Orr
It makes complete sense. And when you kind of made that shift and I think a lot of teachers who make that shift now, I think a lot of people who are listening to this kind of like you kind of like us, they’re willing to step into trying new things. But I think they work with a lot of teachers and you probably work with a lot of teachers, too, who are still hesitant to step that way.

00:07:02:19 – 00:07:21:21
Jon Orr
And I think what we’re hearing and this is the case in our schools, teachers we work with too, is like, if I go down that path, I take that step. I might not be able to cover all the curriculum. And that’s a problem for me. When you’ve made that shift to say, I’m going to focus more on listening and allowing my students to kind of give you their feedback, they taking that ownership, could you still cover all the curriculum?

00:07:21:21 – 00:07:29:16
Jon Orr
Ryan? Is there some sort of tradeoff that you did there? I’m curious there because I’m sure there’s lots of eager teachers going like that’s a barrier that we need to overcome.

00:07:29:22 – 00:08:00:02
Ryan Kinzler
No, I did not cover every single topic. However, by listening the topics you did cover, you were able to cover better. And that time getting them to think mathematically, actually, when they’re placed in a situation where there’s something they did not know. I’m not saying they’re going to achieve 100% at a time, but they had a better baseline to jump into it, to have a chance on some of that stuff.

00:08:00:04 – 00:08:26:13
Ryan Kinzler
So instead of covering everything, sort of kind of, well, I covered less things really well and there was a couple of things I didn’t get to and like obviously disappointed that I didn’t get to them, but it didn’t really it’s ironic that we’re bringing this up because the thing I want to talk about success later, but it didn’t affect scores or grades or anything as much as you would think it would be.

00:08:26:17 – 00:08:50:12
Kyle Pearce
Awesome. You remind me when we sort of went down this path of problem based approach, listening some big pieces that are jumping out at me from this conversation, the importance of listening and observing. And that can only really happen when you give students the opportunity to actually productively struggle, right? They have to actually engage in problem solving in order for you to really listen and observe right?

00:08:50:12 – 00:09:14:22
Kyle Pearce
You’re giving them that opportunity to chat with those neighbors to actually get to the root of the issue or the root of the problem. And when you don’t necessarily explicitly cover, as we might do in a traditional setting and I say traditional gradual release responsibility sort of approach, what I found was I would and maybe this is something that might be helpful, maybe you’re already doing this.

00:09:14:22 – 00:09:38:06
Kyle Pearce
But what I found is I would sneak in some problems of these topics that we didn’t cover explicitly. I would put them on assessments as some of the sort of the next step question. So, you know, folks who listen to the podcast quite a bit, they would know that we would try to do some recent content. We’d also spiral back and do some older content so that it doesn’t slip away.

00:09:38:06 – 00:10:06:23
Kyle Pearce
But I would also once in a while slip in something we haven’t done just to see how they do. And what you would find, and I’m hearing this in your explanation, is that because students are now using their brains, they’re thinking, right, They’re actually working through problems. If you give them a problem that is contextual and may not have been explicitly covered or uncovered in your classroom, they can do some pretty impressive things with it.

00:10:06:23 – 00:10:28:07
Kyle Pearce
And what it allows you to do is it allows you to see how far they can get, how effective or efficient they are, and that can also influence maybe how you bring that into the classroom. So whether it be through a warmup where you introduce one of these problems from a topic you haven’t explicitly brought up in class yet, you can still actually cover the curriculum.

00:10:28:07 – 00:10:46:03
Kyle Pearce
It just isn’t going to look in the same way as it may have done in the past, or it might not be three full days like we may have done in the past. But you’ve actually given students some of that exposure. I love it. Now, I want to roll back before we dig into some of your next steps and some of the things you’re thinking about.

00:10:46:05 – 00:11:11:11
Kyle Pearce
But I also want to go back and I’m wondering about how how important do you feel it was to just have the coaching, mentorship sort of conversation before that school year two years ago? So about two years ago we had that conversation. You came out and it sounded like you had some intentionality in what you were trying to do, what you were trying to accomplish.

00:11:11:13 – 00:11:32:01
Kyle Pearce
Have you thought or reflected on that? And I’m always curious about it because I find that when I have these sorts of conversations, it’s like my actions. It’s like I feel more confident to go out and try some of these things because I feel like I’ve got that support right. I’ve got a bit of a backing there instead of it just being an idea I thought of when I woke up in the middle of the night.

00:11:32:07 – 00:11:46:18
Kyle Pearce
What do you feel that role is? And I’m wondering, have you been trying to search maybe for a colleague or someone that you might be able to lean on to sort of gain that sort of mentorship experience over the long term or I guess on a regular basis?

00:11:46:20 – 00:12:06:18
Ryan Kinzler
Yeah. So no, I really think it was beneficial to talk with you guys in the summer like I did. I’m going to be honest. I think if I talked to you in November, I would have been more hesitant because there was already a routine established. So I will say that doing that in the summer helps because there was no routine established, so you got to establish it.

00:12:06:20 – 00:12:26:22
Ryan Kinzler
It was like more freedom to try things as far as like mentorship stuff. So the ironic part is I actually had my first student teacher that year too, and I got to see it from that point of view and try to share my thoughts, I guess, with them. And they were very receptive of it and she did a great job.

00:12:26:24 – 00:12:50:22
Ryan Kinzler
But I think that that process as well kind of helped empower me to be like, All right, I can share my ideas with other people and they’re going to be more receptive of it. And there actually is a seventh grade teacher that we bounce ideas off each other a lot, and it’s been helpful because she’s kind of adopted some of my things and then I’ve taken some of her things that I’ve been able to tweak for my class as well.

00:12:50:24 – 00:13:12:01
Ryan Kinzler
So I think the taking the step is the first thing before of necessarily being comfortable talking with other people because you want to have the evidence that you know what you’re doing. So the personal evidence, like obviously there’s evidence out there, but personal evidence that you know, what you’re doing, that thing first before I was comfortable talking with other people about it, if that makes sense.

00:13:12:05 – 00:13:12:22
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, totally.

00:13:12:22 – 00:13:34:05
Jon Orr
Yeah, of course. Of course. You know, I think the whole mentorship partnership dynamic that we get when we have a student teacher or when you have a co teacher, some teachers work with somebody every day. My wife in the kindergarten classroom works with another teacher in her classroom all day long. And when you have that, it’s like you create this little mastermind group where you’re bouncing ideas off each other.

00:13:34:05 – 00:14:00:09
Jon Orr
You’re sharing like that is so invaluable to our productiveness in a sense, to push our learning forward and also to kind of share ideas. It’s super important and I think partly necessary to grab someone and go like, What are you doing today? What are you doing tomorrow? What is your lesson? Look like that on a regular basis? And I’m glad that you had that kind of mentorship role because you get it probably just as much as they get from that partnership.

00:14:00:11 – 00:14:20:11
Ryan Kinzler
Yeah, And I will say without having someone to be easy to become complacent and think that, Oh, I took that step, I’m done, I’m good. There’s always more to grow on. And once you take that step yourself, it’s easier to keep going forward if there’s other people that have already tried things too that you can bounce ideas off.

00:14:20:13 – 00:14:21:01
Ryan Kinzler
I love it.

00:14:21:01 – 00:14:41:02
Kyle Pearce
I love it. It’s really interesting. And I think one of the most important pieces and it might look and sound different for those who are listening, some may feel as you have right in thinking like, okay, I want to try a little bit of this before I maybe approach someone. Some others might be like, you know, I really need to just have that conversation and get somebody else’s thoughts before I even dig in.

00:14:41:02 – 00:15:04:18
Kyle Pearce
It’s just not making sense in my mind that I can’t take that first step without having that conversation. But however you choose to enter it, I think finding those people and maybe it’s in your own school, call it like a mastermind. I think it’s amazing when you have a associate teacher, as they would call them here and a pre-service teacher working together in a classroom, because you have a different dynamic.

00:15:04:21 – 00:15:26:11
Kyle Pearce
And it doesn’t mean that the associate teacher has to have all the answers, but more or less that you have different things you can bring to the table, right? They might have maybe some of the newest tech sort of tool or something that might be helpful and you might have those more nuanced pedagogical moves, right. If you would have said maneuver the maneuvers in a math classroom.

00:15:26:11 – 00:15:47:16
Kyle Pearce
To me when I was a student teacher, I would have been like, I have no idea what you’re talking about, Right? Like, I had no idea what that could possibly look like, Right? So there’s a great dynamic there, whether you’re at a similar stage, whether there’s someone who’s maybe ahead in the journey and you’re not quite there yet, or whether you’re just kind of all over the map and everyone’s just trying to figure things out.

00:15:47:16 – 00:16:14:15
Kyle Pearce
Finding those those people you can have those conversations with I think is really, really important. And I really like your idea of the summertime thing. You know, when we’re in the summer or when we’re in our off season as educators, there’s this need to recharge to maybe shut down. But there’s also a need for us to kind of reflect, right, and think back on what worked, what didn’t work so well and what routines do I want to shift.

00:16:14:15 – 00:16:33:17
Kyle Pearce
And I really liked how you commented on that. So I want to definitely dig in to what is on your mind lately. It sounds like you’ve had some really great moves in the right direction, but as we mentioned at the top of the episode, of course, as soon as you start making progress in one area, you start to uncover new challenges, right?

00:16:33:17 – 00:16:50:04
Kyle Pearce
It’s like renovating at home. You take down the wall and then you find out there’s, Oh, no, there’s this behind there and you keep digging and there’s more and more to do. But I think that’s what makes this career so rewarding. So what is on your mind lately? And yeah, let us in so we can dig in here with you.

00:16:50:06 – 00:17:14:06
Ryan Kinzler
Yeah. So like I said, two years ago. Great year. Fantastic. Last year, pretty much the polar opposite. I mean, we’ve no need to get into the details of what I was just. It was like the perfect storm of everything. But the thing that really opened my eyes to the question I have for you guys is looking back and again, this is not like my stance on status doors or anything, but looking back.

00:17:14:06 – 00:17:39:22
Ryan Kinzler
So I teach two classes. I teach a math class and an Algebra one class. In this grade, we also have geometry in eighth grade, just so you kind of get a hierarchy of where my kids, they’re my math kids year after year on state tests are growing like last year was about plus 350 points. All right. My algebra kids every year are falling about 200 points last year.

00:17:40:02 – 00:17:47:08
Ryan Kinzler
So that kind of brought me to this question. And I said, okay, if I asked you guys to, like, give me a definition of something.

00:17:47:10 – 00:17:47:24
Kyle Pearce

00:17:48:01 – 00:18:02:16
Ryan Kinzler
Okay. It’s because I wrote one too. So you’re not left out here. What is your definition of success in your classroom? Mm, Mm hmm. I don’t know if you want me to go first to give you time to think or if you want to go first or.

00:18:02:16 – 00:18:16:20
Kyle Pearce
I’m curious to hear yours. Okay? And then I want to. And then I’m also. No, no, I, I, I definitely don’t want to plant any seeds, but also, it’s going to give me some time to actually reflect on that as well.

00:18:16:22 – 00:18:22:18
Jon Orr
Do that too, right? Yeah. Yeah. Might even be worth a surprise for those who are listening for sure.

00:18:22:20 – 00:18:49:18
Kyle Pearce
All right, love it. But I’m super curious and I’m guessing, too, that it’s probably dynamic, right? So I bet you two months ago your definition was this. And over time and this is almost something like give me some ideas of probably something we should routinely be, whether it’s like setting a reminder in your calendar to be thinking about that because I think it’s really easy for us to just assume we know what successes like we know the really far down the road goal.

00:18:49:20 – 00:19:07:06
Kyle Pearce
John and I talk a lot about if you meet someone five years from now, what do you hope that student says? Those are a lot of the things that I’m looking for, but I think there’s also some important factors as well for us, especially when you’re looking at this from like a year to year, right? Like math eight to algebra one, what would be a success?

00:19:07:06 – 00:19:18:16
Kyle Pearce
So I’m super curious here, and it is early in the morning for those who are listening. So forcing our brains to kind of like maybe work harder than I thought we were going to have to today, But I really I’m looking forward to it.

00:19:18:16 – 00:19:41:20
Ryan Kinzler
Yeah, right. Yeah. So and there’s a reason why I came up with this definition too, because just background, I think there’s almost three different definitions of success that are portrayed to our students based on different adults situations here and their own self identity, I guess for lack of a better word there. So I can get into that later too.

00:19:41:20 – 00:19:59:09
Ryan Kinzler
But my working definition for right now, and this could easily change by the time I’m done talking with you guys. But my definition as a student has success is if the student has the ability and the understanding to perform better in subsequent math classes than my own class.

00:19:59:11 – 00:20:00:22
Jon Orr
Mm hmm.

00:20:00:24 – 00:20:21:08
Ryan Kinzler
That’s my working definition right now, because, okay, they could have made short term gains here, but setting them up for a long term date. Right. I love that. That’s my working definition now. And I can get into how I don’t know if that really aligns with the way I think kids or parents or administrators see it, which is why this topic I brought up.

00:20:21:08 – 00:20:22:24
Ryan Kinzler
But I’m trying to for you guys.

00:20:23:00 – 00:20:56:19
Kyle Pearce
Yeah. And what pops into my mind when you say that and I’m like, Wow, that is awesome. Now, the one wonder I would have with that too. And this isn’t to maybe limit that definition or to get us thinking unpredictably about about things too, is there may be this time where you reach a point in a student’s journey where where things do get, let’s say, very abstract or their ability to perform at that same level of rigor might not be as depth.

00:20:56:19 – 00:21:28:20
Kyle Pearce
However, as I’m saying that, I’m also reflecting myself and thinking maybe it’s almost like the wording around, like putting them in a position where they can flourish or achieve at a greater level of understanding. I love the know, understand and do piece. I love those three pieces. If they know understanding can do in my classroom and that positions them well so that they have a good chance of assuming all of the things line up and they put in the hard work.

00:21:28:22 – 00:21:55:20
Kyle Pearce
I’m going to also argue that there’s this as we go down that journey, as you pass Algebra one into Algebra two and as you continue down towards calculus, it’s almost like the amount of effort and thinking and all of those things compound. So it’s like a beautiful compound interest sort of situation. And it makes me really reflect right now on what exactly do I want all students to be successful in those areas.

00:21:55:20 – 00:22:02:00
Kyle Pearce
But I wonder, is that the path for all students and does that mean they’re not successful if they don’t do that thing?

00:22:02:00 – 00:22:27:24
Jon Orr
Yeah, yeah, for sure. And I think for me, when I think about my students in my classrooms, I think I want to set them up for success in future years. Ryan, just like you. But I think I can kind of boil it more down into, say, building confidence. I think everything that I when you think about a classroom and you think about everything that you’re putting into and trying to change and trying to help students see themselves as mathematicians is helping help them become better thinkers and problem solvers and be resilient.

00:22:28:01 – 00:22:53:18
Jon Orr
Sometimes I can think if I can help them do all of that, but also build their confidence so that they’re not only because they have confidence in the math that we’re doing now, and confidence in the math class and confident in math in general, I think that does carry forward because one of the biggest lessons I help, I tried to talk to my own kids about my three daughters is that I don’t want to be the one that rushes in and fixes things for them.

00:22:53:18 – 00:23:09:13
Jon Orr
Right. Like, I don’t want to be that math teacher. That’s like, Let me just show you how to do this because you’re going to go back to class and it’s going to be a different thing. I think one of the big lessons we try to help them with is that you’re going to run into or you’re going to have teachers or people in your lives that you disagree with.

00:23:09:13 – 00:23:33:10
Jon Orr
You don’t get along with, you don’t feel are doing the best job that they could be. And it’s all about having that resilience and confidence to kind of accept that and persevere through that. And I know that when I think about my students and going next year, you possibly could get another teacher who puts a huge emphasis back on the abstract and not the conceptual understanding, and there’s no connection.

00:23:33:10 – 00:23:56:01
Jon Orr
And they’re going to kind of detract from your confidence in mathematics. And if I can instill your confidence this year, when you get to that situation, if you can maneuver around that your self as a student and go, this is where I am in regards to what’s happening in the classroom, and I can persevere through that because of the confidence I already have coming into it.

00:23:56:03 – 00:24:17:05
Jon Orr
I think that’s a big win. That’s what I try to tell my own kids, is that we need to kind of we’re going to run into a situation where, hey, this isn’t exactly the way we want. How are we going to still continue to achieve our own definitions of success in that situation? And I think that’s one of the biggest things we can give kids and that’s really that resilience, that confidence.

00:24:17:07 – 00:24:40:03
Ryan Kinzler
Yeah, I know. And it’s funny, I like both of your your definitions there. And Kyle, you talked about like a path for kids and each kid’s going to have a different path and that’s just the way it is. And John, you talked about confidence, which I completely agree with, which is why this idea or this topic is weighing on me, because I think there’s three different things that kids view as or that kids get told about success.

00:24:40:05 – 00:25:02:02
Ryan Kinzler
The first one is their grade. Let’s just be honest about that at their grade, they’re kind of drives, especially an eighth grader. That’s what they think about their. The second is, I think wherever you are, if you have any sort of state or in the United States state test or national test or whatever, I think the administration looks at that and deems, hey, are your kids successful based off of that or not?

00:25:02:04 – 00:25:19:12
Ryan Kinzler
And the thing I push back on that is passing a test one time doesn’t necessarily mean you completely understand material. It’s a one time shot and not passing a test one time. Also doesn’t mean you don’t understand material. So it’s kind of a flawed system there. But you have those two things and then you have what you guys talked about.

00:25:19:12 – 00:25:41:22
Ryan Kinzler
And what I think I talk about too, is this growth piece where I actually think my math students, even though they are not necessarily at the level of my algebra students, grew more. But here’s the conflicting parts here. I don’t think necessarily the state tests or the grades would reflect that. So how do you keep that confidence up in that?

00:25:42:02 – 00:26:04:21
Ryan Kinzler
And same thing with my algebra kids. Their grades are great for the most part, but I don’t know if they truly understand as much. So just because their grades are up there is that mean they’re as successful as, say, a math student who I have had math students in the past who don’t understand the concept of multiplication, and we’re trying to solve a multistep equation.

00:26:04:23 – 00:26:21:01
Ryan Kinzler
The grade in my ass and my eyes is how well do you understand the multi-step equation? But you could have grown so much, and maybe you can solve a one step equation now. But then your grade doesn’t reflect that. How does all these pieces work together? That’s the part that I’m having a hard time with.

00:26:21:03 – 00:26:44:13
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, No. And you bring up so many great points here, and I think you’re right. I think the third point, your growth improvement, that’s what really matters. But it’s not what’s highlighted, right? And that’s that it’s not as obvious. And we try to do that. And of course, with the whole growth mindset shift and all of those things we’ve tried in education to have growth mindset messages, we try to have all of these things.

00:26:44:13 – 00:27:13:09
Kyle Pearce
But then the first to sort of like squash that, right, because all of a sudden it’s like, well, this grades says this, you know, the growth mindset message on the wall says that but then the grade says this, the standardized test says this and you’re 100% right. And when I think about the growth piece as well, I love John, your definition and focus on this idea of confidence, resilience, perseverance, just getting students to know what they’re capable of.

00:27:13:09 – 00:27:34:24
Kyle Pearce
And I think I wanted to almost piggyback what John said, to go all the way back to what I was saying, to suggest that if a student, let’s say, goes from your great your math eight class and then they go into algebra one. Now the content has taken a step up. The curriculum also puts you in a bad spot because sometimes there’s not a smooth shift right from one grade to the next.

00:27:34:24 – 00:28:03:24
Kyle Pearce
So it’s it’s not necessarily that you in this course didn’t help to prepare those students. It’s that there’s not an appropriate step to get to that place. It’s like it’s a leap. And some courses do that and some curriculums do that. But the part that I think would be for me what would be a success is if a student goes into that Algebra one course or they go into in in a perfect world, I think it’s more like algebra two for me would be that jump where students are starting to go.

00:28:03:24 – 00:28:31:06
Kyle Pearce
Like, I don’t know if this is exactly like in my wheelhouse. I’m not really interested in this or I’m going to start focusing in this area over here, which isn’t necessarily like pure mathematics or whatever. I want a student to be able to have that confidence. It’s that resilience, that knowledge about themself to know themselves well enough that they’re like, If I wanted to dedicate the time and the effort that I could do this.

00:28:31:08 – 00:28:53:09
Kyle Pearce
But I’m making a conscious decision that I am going to focus my time more so over here than over there. I think for me, that would help me to be more okay with a student whose grade maybe goes down a little versus a student who’s like, I just can’t do it. I’m just not a math person. I’ve hit the end of the road for me.

00:28:53:09 – 00:29:14:09
Kyle Pearce
I want a student to know that it’s like, you could do anything you want. It’s like the student who says, I want to be an astronaut, Mike, You sure as heck can. But guess what? If you’re not focusing on being an astronaut for a majority of your day, right? Which it means studying, which means focusing on those, you can’t just decide on Saturdays that you want to be an astronaut.

00:29:14:12 – 00:29:41:22
Kyle Pearce
You have to truly want it. I think the same is true here. Like I would accept a student who’s like, my grade went down a little bit. But you know what? I know that I could get that grade up, but I’ve been committing more time to my travel volleyball schedule and to the arts and to this. I just don’t want them to say I can’t do it anymore or I’m incapable of actually doing that work.

00:29:41:22 – 00:30:04:15
Kyle Pearce
And to me, I think that is a massive win. Now, again, where do you find that and how do you have that conversation? That would be more of a maneuver right for you as the educator to go, hmm, can I implement some sort of survey, some sort of data collection tool? And maybe it’s even just a conversation, a casual conversation that you aim to have at the start of a school year?

00:30:04:17 – 00:30:20:17
Kyle Pearce
Right. And it might be like, hey, I want to talk to two kids per day for the first 15 days of school. So I’m going to aim to like, have two times on the way into class. Hey, can I talk to you? And you ask them the same question, right? And you document that and then you ask them again maybe near the end of the year.

00:30:20:17 – 00:30:52:03
Kyle Pearce
And maybe it’s that measurement, right, to help you feel his. You’ve kind of highlighted a couple of things here. You’ve highlighted that we’ve overemphasized grades, we’ve overemphasized standardized testing. And the growth and improvement piece is something you’re doing in your classroom, of course, and all teachers are trying to do. But I wonder, it’s like, can you get some data that would help you feel like you’re measuring the true success that matters to you and not necessarily just that grade?

00:30:52:03 – 00:31:12:13
Kyle Pearce
Because that’s going to happen. You’re going to have some students where maybe things have shifted. Maybe they spend less time on math right now. But if at the end of the year, they’re like, wow, you know, Mr. Kids, like in your class. I know that if I stick with it long enough that all eventually get there to me, I’d be like, Whoa, that is a massive, massive win.

00:31:12:13 – 00:31:49:24
Kyle Pearce
I would take that any day over. Knowing the quadratic formula or knowing any of these sort of concepts that probably aren’t going to actually reappear unless they’re in a math course. But are that problem solving, that resilience, that stick to itiveness is something that they can take with them no matter what they do in life? And I don’t know, like I almost think like if students are thinking that way and if you see your data is shifting, if you’re doing those maneuvers in the school year, all year long to shift students towards that thinking in that mindset, I’m going to guess that their grades are probably going to improve just as a byproduct, not because,

00:31:50:05 – 00:32:09:01
Kyle Pearce
you know, they’re not getting confident because the grades going up. It’s like third grade would probably go up because they’re confident that they’re like, I can do this if I really, really want to. I can do this. I just have to commit to it and and know that the answer will come and the logic will come once I put enough work into it.

00:32:09:03 – 00:32:30:00
Ryan Kinzler
Yeah. No, I really like all of that. I think the piece that I’m kind of grabbing on to there is I don’t know the right word here. I want to say hope, but I don’t know if Hope’s right word, so I might change that later. But the hope to one day have success is greater than the belief that one day the success will come is greater than having success in the moment.

00:32:30:02 – 00:32:50:01
Ryan Kinzler
And I think that we talk about so much and I love your podcast about talking about making math moments, and we talk about how to create the moments. But then I don’t know, and maybe I haven’t listened to every single one. So maybe you guys have talked about this, but maybe once you make that moment, how do you know if it did what you wanted it to do?

00:32:50:05 – 00:33:20:17
Ryan Kinzler
And I think the other thing I was thinking about when you were talking there, Kyle, is sometimes growth doesn’t mean you’re always going up. Sometimes you’re going to go this way a little bit because you’re going to change your direction and then come back up again and I think that that’s the part where kids get frustrated on this part, where maybe their grade is slipping and they’re putting their identity in that, especially like I’m just going to go with my algebra kids, whatever everybody’s thoughts are on tracking, it’s the way it is right now in our district.

00:33:20:19 – 00:33:41:24
Ryan Kinzler
And those algebra kids, their worth is in their grades. So when they start to struggle, it’s not that they’re not capable of doing it, it’s that we’re just trying to change the trajectory to go back up. And I guess that’s the part I’m talking with you guys. That’s the part that I’m struggling with. It’s that initial changing of the focus to come back up into the growth.

00:33:42:01 – 00:33:54:16
Ryan Kinzler
And I think this is the part where they’re like, Well, wait a second, my grades are falling. Wait a second, I’m not scoring advanced or proficient on my state test. I’m right away now. Right. And it’s like it’s going to come. You’ve got to be patient.

00:33:54:18 – 00:34:13:02
Kyle Pearce
In that complexity or you just think of like it gets complex fast rate. And to think for those who aren’t listening and not watching, Ryan’s got his hands up and he’s kind of showing this valley your grade. You see that dip in over the years and 80 sometimes the next year turns into a 76 and a 70 turns.

00:34:13:02 – 00:34:37:09
Kyle Pearce
And it seems like if they start slipping, we’ll call it that starts to decrease faster, you see over time. And that’s where students start to lose their confidence. The part that we don’t picture in our minds, the graph of the complexity of the mathematics and the rigor and the amount of understanding and knowledge and new ideas that we’re asking students to achieve in a short period of time.

00:34:37:11 – 00:34:59:17
Kyle Pearce
When you look at that graph and it almost makes me wonder, is that even a good thought experiment for us as educators to do maybe? Ryan For you to do, like if you were to look at your eight and then your algebra one curriculum side by side or your standards and it doesn’t have to be mathematically accurate, but if you were to look at, we’ll call it the complexity curve of both, what does that look like?

00:34:59:17 – 00:35:18:24
Kyle Pearce
And could that curve be a value even as a start of the year conversation with your Algebra one students where you go, Hey, you’re coming out of eight, and here’s what I think eight looks like on a complexity scale, like how many people felt. You know, some kids are like, Oh, I thought it was easy. I thought I didn’t really have to work that hard.

00:35:18:24 – 00:35:35:24
Kyle Pearce
And you’re like, okay, well, I want to show the curve for this year not to scare you. It’s to prepare you that it’s like when you see a trail and it says like it’s a difficult trail, right? You’re going to be sweating by the time you get up this hiking path because it’s really steep and there’s rocks and there’s this and there’s that.

00:35:35:24 – 00:35:59:18
Kyle Pearce
And it’s like, does that also help students to kind of frame themselves to go like, hey, wait a second, I came into this year expecting exactly the experience I got last year, and maybe it’s not quite like that right from this grade to that grade. And I know in Ontario here, some of the course is this happens a lot from grade three to grade four is a massive difference in the complexity.

00:35:59:18 – 00:36:19:15
Kyle Pearce
Right. And they have standardized tests in grade three and then they have it in grade six and you see a massive drop in those standardized test scores. Well, we call it the abyss, like grade four or five and six. It’s like all of a sudden the complexity, the multiplicative thinking explodes. So what does that look like from eight to algebra one and?

00:36:19:15 – 00:36:39:17
Kyle Pearce
How might we as educators give students the image in their mind of, okay, so you just went on the medium hiking trail, right? It was hard at times, but this one, we’re going to have a lot more of those, right? Or here’s where we want to be cautious or here’s where we want to make sure that we’re not letting our practice slip or we’re not this or we’re not that.

00:36:39:17 – 00:36:47:03
Kyle Pearce
So that’s sort of your visual that you gave me of that valley kind of immediately was like, Oh, that could be really helpful for us.

00:36:47:05 – 00:37:06:21
Jon Orr
Yeah. And just I think to add something that I’ve for the last few years kept in my mind especially, you’re trying to think helping those students who are kind of on that valley part and changing to go back up is students are going to just because we’ve conditioned them, they are going to be attached to that grade, right?

00:37:06:22 – 00:37:32:21
Jon Orr
We have to report the grade. They’re going to be attached to the grade. The parents are going to attach to the grade. But what I come to accept that part. But then I ask myself, what else could I bring into the classroom as something to continually give feedback on to my students? I guess it’s this phrase that I’ve kind of been obsessed with, which is how do you reward the behavior you want and not the result?

00:37:32:23 – 00:37:51:22
Jon Orr
Because the results that we have to publish is a mark, right, kids? That’s where that that that attachment comes to. But it’s like, how can I pivot what’s happening in my classroom? What are my classroom pillars that I can continually give feedback to my students on? And how can I get feedback? Could I give it in writing? Can I give it in verbal?

00:37:51:22 – 00:38:16:21
Jon Orr
Could I actually assign some sort of new mark to the things that I value in class because that will reward their behavior? So when you see behavior, how can you reward that behavior so that the students know? Mr. Kinzler thinks that thing is really important. He keeps giving me feedback on that thing or those two things or those three things.

00:38:16:23 – 00:38:35:02
Jon Orr
And he hasn’t really commented on my mark or he doesn’t say anything about Marks in class. He comments on these three things always, and that can then be like that flywheel where that’s like, now we’ve got a little push this way. All of a sudden it’s like kids are starting to feel like, Hey, these are the things that matter in class.

00:38:35:02 – 00:39:00:09
Jon Orr
These are the things that matter in class. And then that flywheel starts to kind of turn and take off. So it’s like, what are the things? What are the things that we really value that we can actually put feedback and rewards into that push this for. And this is, you know, many years ago Kyle and I started to transition away from making our students see the grade until it was say, way up here.

00:39:00:09 – 00:39:22:23
Jon Orr
It was like, hey, we were grading on a level one, two, three, four scale. And it’s like we withheld grades, numbers until they reached the say, the level for to say, Hey, you know what this is at the at the standard now or at the level of achievement we want to see and it was we withheld that we actually commented short little comments short little verbal conversations to bring students to that level.

00:39:23:00 – 00:39:39:19
Jon Orr
And it was saying, let’s set the bar here and let’s everyone that’s our goal to get to there. And it’s kind of like we commented on the things that we valued about their perseverance, about showcasing more of their learning. How can you write this and how can you demonstrate this? And so I think it’s it’s what are the actions?

00:39:39:19 – 00:39:58:17
Jon Orr
I think if you want to think about, list out the things that you want to value in class and then like even little point forums underneath, what are some actual actions that you can take this coming year that help push those values a little further in your class to kind of show a kid that you value that and not that thing over there?

00:39:58:19 – 00:40:22:07
Ryan Kinzler
Yeah, no, I mean, you guys threw a lot out there just to kind of just go back and even for me to collect my thoughts on this. Kyle, I think that what you said about the abyss there, I think that that happens in Pennsylvania, too. I can tell you that for sure. Four or five, six. And I think that they many students form their, I guess, math identity for lack of a better term.

00:40:22:07 – 00:40:37:18
Ryan Kinzler
They’re either I did well or I didn’t do well. And I think that’s kind of hard to get them out of. And my mind’s starting to go now. Kind of off what you said there, John, about emphasizing can you say that quote again that you like?

00:40:37:20 – 00:40:42:10
Jon Orr
It’s basically just how can you reward the behavior and not the result?

00:40:42:12 – 00:41:02:19
Ryan Kinzler
Right. So and this is even me saying I think having success is having everyone up here. But maybe to go back to my point here instead of maybe success is to stop the downward. Instead of looking at look at all this growth, success could also be, well, maybe we’re leveling out totally.

00:41:02:19 – 00:41:04:13
Kyle Pearce
And now how do we make that visible?

00:41:04:14 – 00:41:33:13
Ryan Kinzler
Right? And that kind of goes back to what you said about the grades I have in the past. I’ve started to like, hide them. So whenever kids got a test back, they would automatically look at the grading and nothing else. And that was driving me nuts. Yeah. So I would start to hide the grades, so they’d have to, like, look through it, but maybe even withholding it because that is something I do in my math class is I have this thing that I call stars where there’s a level one, level two, a level three and a level four for every single topic that we do throughout the year.

00:41:33:15 – 00:41:57:22
Ryan Kinzler
And each star each topics like ten points, whatever, it doesn’t matter, but you can keep redoing them the whole nine weeks until you get to a definition or demonstrating that you understand to me that you grasp the concept and obviously they get more difficult as you go. And the more stars you do, the higher your grade is in that spot.

00:41:57:24 – 00:42:20:18
Ryan Kinzler
Well, I think that’s where I see a lot of my growth in my math kids is because of that. And I actually started that two years ago after talking with you guys. So that growth piece there is maybe I need to get out of my head that maybe I’m part of the problem here looking at these state test scores and saying, Oh, well, my algebra kids fell 200, my math kids raised 350, like all of that.

00:42:20:18 – 00:42:32:07
Ryan Kinzler
Maybe my math kids are on the upward part now and my algebra kids, instead of going down, they’ve leveled off and it’s like, okay, that’s okay, because now they have the opportunity to go up.

00:42:32:13 – 00:42:49:11
Kyle Pearce
And it’s interesting to now, you’ve said a lot of things that I really liked, and I feel like this conversation we could have a conversation all morning about this one. It’s hit so many great key points. And I think you just in my mind, I was picturing this idea of you’re talking about almost like stopping the bleeding. Right.

00:42:49:11 – 00:43:09:07
Kyle Pearce
Is something that we don’t really have a measure for in math class. Right. But if you’re skiing and somebody falls and their skis are pointing downhill and they’re like, they can’t stop when it’s like, just get them to turn and stop, that’s a win, right? You’re like, Wolf, we stopped. You’re still on the ground, but we’ve stopped. And the same is true.

00:43:09:07 – 00:43:33:24
Kyle Pearce
That’s the vision I had in my head of like some of your students. And I think this grading system that you’ve been using or feedback system, whatever you want to call it in your eight classes, really, because it allows you at a more in the weeds opportunity for students to kind of figure out where are they. And then the other piece too, is what is a reasonable level of success for you and me and John?

00:43:33:24 – 00:43:55:11
Kyle Pearce
We’re going to go like four stars on everything. That is the level of success we want, right? But for some students, they’re like, wow, Like, I’ve never had I’ve never had two stars before or in their mind, whatever that vision is. So that’s a really hard place for us to be, is really looking at the student, each individual student and where they are and where on that curve are they?

00:43:55:11 – 00:44:15:03
Kyle Pearce
Where are they on the downward slope for the past few years and now you’re trying to help them level off and build that confidence back. But then also when you look at the test scores for the state, let’s say, what I would say is now you’re looking at it from like a much higher level. So it’s not that we want to ignore it, we want to throw it off to the side.

00:44:15:09 – 00:44:32:22
Kyle Pearce
We definitely don’t want it to dictate our success because there’s so many other successes going on in your classroom which may or may not show up in that test. And the other thing that’s always hard is we don’t know what that test score would be if you didn’t have the successes you had. Right. How much worse would that test score be, right?

00:44:32:22 – 00:45:06:17
Kyle Pearce
Or how much lower could that test score be? However, if I can look at that data and I can try to find if I’m able to, if they have in different states and in different parts of the world, they have different levels of, let’s say, openness with the question and the materials. And if you could look at those and you start to try to analyze, is this a complexity issue where we’ve taken a much more deeper dive in algebra two on that standardized test and like the gap between the eight and the algebra one is just massive.

00:45:06:19 – 00:45:38:20
Kyle Pearce
That’s something for us to note. And then also to still help you kind of feed that want to set students up for success. You’ll hear a lot of times we’ve had episodes on them where we’re like, It’s not about getting them ready for next year, but in some ways it is because you’re like, Listen, if I’m teaching this curriculum and I’m focusing so much time to make sure that these eight students are doing really well in these areas, But maybe I could have taken some of that time to help them fill in some of the gaps that are going to happen.

00:45:38:20 – 00:45:59:22
Kyle Pearce
Are those leaps that are happening between this curriculum or standards and the next year’s standards? Is there an opportunity for me to explore that, to kind of look at where in algebra are students and this is looking at them as a whole and saying just as a whole, we’re all kind of struggling here. What is that most connected to?

00:45:59:24 – 00:46:24:04
Kyle Pearce
So we’re doing really well, it seems, on the standardized test in grade eight. But then in algebra one, it seems like we’re actually falling. So where is that fall happening and are there some maneuvers I can do? Right. These are like more like macro maneuvers I can do to go, hmm, where I’m seeing it. And I’m just going to guess that it’s in probably algebra related concepts, right?

00:46:24:06 – 00:46:49:05
Kyle Pearce
Algebraic reasoning and probably some of that. Some of those pieces. Is there a place in my eight curriculum where you’ve probably done a good job to look at those standards and go, Wow, with dividing everything up the way I have? I’ve put myself in a position where the students are really successful in this course, but it’s like, could they still be that successful while also being or getting more prepared for next year?

00:46:49:05 – 00:47:08:16
Kyle Pearce
Like, is there a gap there now this isn’t to put pressure on you to go, Oh man, I have to redesign my whole curriculum. But it’s like if there’s an opportunity for me to go, here’s the place that I’m seeing. We pictured that hiking hill When we get on that difficult hike, here’s where I see students in Algebra one sort of falling or faltering.

00:47:08:18 – 00:47:45:12
Kyle Pearce
What’s this step before that that I might be able to more explicitly dry out here in eight to give them a little bit. It’s like training them before they go on the big hike. It’s like, well we were on the medium hill. Next year’s going to be the difficult. How can we find like an in-between hill here, even though it’s not explicitly in my curriculum or it doesn’t say I have to go that far, I don’t have to necessarily evaluate it, but I can assess it and I can provide students with maybe just that a little bit of we’ll call it extra training before they set off on the big hike next year and then

00:47:45:12 – 00:48:04:00
Kyle Pearce
maybe monitor that over the next school year and say like, did that help? Did my Grade eight scores go down now? And here’s another interesting thing. Let’s say some of your grade eight scores did go down, but your Algebra one scores went up and you go, is that a worthwhile trait? I don’t know. But maybe it is for you.

00:48:04:02 – 00:48:28:15
Ryan Kinzler
It almost sounds like just to encapsulate everything here, don’t be afraid to open doors earlier for students. You don’t necessarily need to go full through them, but just open the door and let them see through it, because sometimes that’s better than having to backtrack back and go open up a previous door that should have been open that they didn’t understand totally.

00:48:28:15 – 00:48:33:24
Kyle Pearce
It’s like, Oh, don’t go over there. That’s only for the Algebra one kids. We kind of protect them from it, right?

00:48:34:01 – 00:48:58:20
Ryan Kinzler
It kind of goes back to the passing to like expose them, let the students take their own path. But the more exposure they have, I don’t want to say sooner, but earlier, I guess it’s almost more beneficial than having to backtrack. And then because when you’re backtracking, you’re probably going to lose the confidence. And when you’re going forward, there’s, I guess, curiosity there and a little bit more confidence that you can go through that door.

00:48:59:01 – 00:49:16:07
Kyle Pearce
Right. And the other piece, too, is like if you picture it as doors like you have, you’re in your current curriculum and this might help you too, because you had said are some topics you didn’t explicitly cover, like maybe you may have in the past. It’s like, which of these doors are doors that we want to quickly walk through and walk out of?

00:49:16:07 – 00:49:32:00
Kyle Pearce
And then which doors are ones we really want to spend some time, turn the light on, look around, make sure we really have a sense of this room. It’s like you’re in this museum and it’s like, I really want to go see the Mona Lisa. I’m going to spend a lot of time there, but then I go in this other room, I’m like, Are nice, but not that great.

00:49:32:00 – 00:49:48:20
Kyle Pearce
I’m going to move more quickly out of that door and maybe entering into this other one over here. We are like, Hey, listen, we’re not going to spend too long in here. But I do want to let you know there’s this thing over here and next year we’re going to spend a lot of time in there. But this year I just want to give you the lay of the land.

00:49:48:20 – 00:49:59:03
Kyle Pearce
So don’t get your confidence out. I’m giving you next year’s material. You kids are so awesome that you can handle it. And we’re going to like, look at what those kids are doing, what the big kids are doing.

00:49:59:05 – 00:50:23:22
Ryan Kinzler
Yeah. And you never know when you open a door and you might leave it, but a kid might go back on their own and like, that’s their door, you know what I mean? So I think almost in talking with you guys, it’s almost as if you can’t necessarily define success as based off of what you did or your class in general, success almost has its own definition for each individual student, too, For sure.

00:50:23:22 – 00:50:45:10
Ryan Kinzler
And sure, when you’re trying to quantify that as a general overall thing, it gets a little dicey because there’s so many different layers there, and success for this student may look completely different than success for this student. So it’s almost a case by case basis instead of a whole basis here. And that kind of goes back to the grades, too.

00:50:45:10 – 00:51:02:20
Ryan Kinzler
It’s like it’s a topic by topic basis, not necessarily the grade overall basis there. They have to look at look at all these topics that did it really well on this topic. They didn’t do that as well on. So it dropped their grade a little bit. But overall there’s so much growth in those top part that that’s what we should be focusing on.

00:51:02:22 – 00:51:03:13
Ryan Kinzler
I love it.

00:51:03:13 – 00:51:08:24
Kyle Pearce
Love it. That’s like a big takeaway right there. John, I was going to ask for the big takeaway. Yeah, you.

00:51:09:00 – 00:51:10:09
Jon Orr
Already jumped to the you’ve.

00:51:10:09 – 00:51:11:14
Kyle Pearce
Been on this show before.

00:51:11:14 – 00:51:14:20
Ryan Kinzler
Right? Yeah. You know, I’ve listened, you know, a couple of hundred. You know, it’s.

00:51:14:21 – 00:51:15:12
Kyle Pearce
Not there to go.

00:51:15:12 – 00:51:33:15
Jon Orr
Ryan Yeah, big takeaway there. I think you’ve had a lot of big takeaways from this particular episode and the listener at home is kind of going, Yeah, what was my big takeaway? And they’re kind of wondering that as well. So Ryan, we want to thank you for joining us once again once again, and I hope you’re open to joining us again.

00:51:33:17 – 00:51:37:10
Jon Orr
Let’s say next year we try not to wait two years this time. So every summer.

00:51:37:11 – 00:51:38:09
Ryan Kinzler
Is what it is.

00:51:38:11 – 00:51:46:00
Jon Orr
We got to make sure we get to you every summer so that we don’t limit those terrible years. So thanks again for being here and we wish you all the best.

00:51:46:02 – 00:51:48:24
Ryan Kinzler
Thanks for having me, guys. I enjoyed it very much.

00:51:49:01 – 00:52:10:01
Kyle Pearce
Well, my friends John and I learned so much from these math mentoring moment episodes. And when I’m thinking back to this conversation, when we touched on so many pieces here, of the six parts of an effective math program. One of them, though, that I think really stands out for me that shines brightly is the water, soil and sunlight.

00:52:10:02 – 00:52:34:05
Kyle Pearce
Oh, for our one tree. Yes. You like what I did there, right? So we’re talking about mindset. We’re talking about beliefs. There was this big talk about what is success. And it really forced all three of us to really think deeply about what it is that we’re looking for. And John, the part that really pops out, you bring this up often and every time you say it, it’s graded.

00:52:34:05 – 00:53:02:19
Kyle Pearce
I gain mentorship from you when you share this this idea of rewarding the behavior. Right? Rewarding the behavior is so key. And when we do that, we’re really looking to hone in on this mindset and belief piece because you really have to be paying attention to your behaviors when you’re dealing with mindset, when you’re dealing with beliefs, when you’re dealing with what matters to get the actual result at the end.

00:53:02:21 – 00:53:23:03
Kyle Pearce
The end is the grade. The end is the standardized test. It’s all the things, all the behaviors that were lining up and stacking before that we have to believe in that are actually going to make a difference. And this is for the teacher, but also for the students. So the things we do as the teacher we have to be doing intentionally.

00:53:23:03 – 00:53:37:12
Kyle Pearce
We have to believe that the things we’re doing are going to matter, that they’re going to make a difference. Of course, we don’t want to just believe without any sort of data to back it up. Of course, we want to base it on research. We want to base it on what we know to be true from that research.

00:53:37:14 – 00:53:59:18
Kyle Pearce
And then for the students, they need the same thing. We need to be helping them to build their mindset, to build their beliefs about what actually helps them get to that final result. It seems easy for everyone else except for me, right? Like that’s the human condition. We think, Oh my gosh, this person always does well on the test and I always seem to struggle.

00:53:59:18 – 00:54:34:13
Kyle Pearce
But we don’t see all of the other behaviors that have been stacking up for years of that person’s life. All of the behaviors that maybe were taking place at home. And of course, there is some of that we’ll call it unfair advantage, where there’s just some students who recognize patterns a little bit better than others. But ultimately, how do we help students see that you yourself can have an impact on what that grade will be, maybe not even this year, but in the future, if you line those behaviors up and you stick to the plan.

00:54:34:18 – 00:54:55:02
Jon Orr
I think we borrow that phrase. I don’t think it was the phrase exactly. But atomic habit habits, I think is the book that I think helped us think about that whole behavior reward system to build a habit that sticks. And if you can put more emphasis in our classrooms on the behaviors we want to see, then they will generate the outcomes.

00:54:55:04 – 00:55:14:11
Jon Orr
But it’s that flywheel approach about putting the emphasis on the behaviors, not the outcomes that I think is going to make the difference. Now, I also wanted to kind of put a caveat on the reward system. I didn’t tell Ryan this, but I didn’t clarify. But when I say reward, I’m not saying give them a sticker or trophy, right.

00:55:14:13 – 00:55:39:24
Jon Orr
Or say like a mark or something that feels tangible. I’m thinking more about verbal written emphasis that you can place on those things instead of say something that I guess puts a material benefit on that reward. I tend to be more of the verbal or written rewards in a sense. Like basically feedback is what I mean by the reward in general in math class.

00:55:39:24 – 00:55:43:17
Jon Orr
So I just want to put a caveat on that before we wrap up here.

00:55:43:19 – 00:56:06:11
Kyle Pearce
I love it. I love it, John, in that piece by clarifying that as well, really connects nicely to all of the research that suggests that feedback is better than, say, just a quantified mark, that number. Right, or the sticker or the trophy. And I think ultimately, at the end of the day, there’s a lot of value due to the words we say, especially when they’re verbal.

00:56:06:11 – 00:56:36:12
Kyle Pearce
Right. But writing them is great, too, assuming the students are reading them versus it just being sort of a number. Right, is just on a scale. The connection and the meaning is just not the same. So great clarifying there, friends. Listen, A great way to hold yourself accountable is to write it down or share it with someone. And one way that you can do this is to take just a moment to write down 1 to 3 sentences on what your big takeaway was from today’s episode and sharing it on Apple Podcasts.

00:56:36:12 – 00:57:00:19
Kyle Pearce
There is a section. If you just look on the podcast, you might be listening to this podcast on Apple Podcasts right now. Just open it up, click whatever star rating you want one, two, five star, and there’s just a little section there. You can write a quick 1 to 3 sentence review. Each review actually goes a massive way and we were just notified that actually, John, this is crazy.

00:57:00:19 – 00:57:23:21
Kyle Pearce
I don’t even think I told you this yet, but we just received an email that told us that we are in the top point 5% of podcasts in the world, right? Which is pretty awesome, especially because it’s a math education podcast. So we would love to be able to reach an even wider audience of math moment makers. There’s a lot of you out there, but guess what?

00:57:24:01 – 00:57:47:16
Kyle Pearce
There’s so many more educators who are spinning their wheels and just trying to figure this thing out and just think of how beneficial it could be if more educators are brought to the table to engage in this math conversation. So do us a favor rate and review on Apple Podcasts. Maybe you’re on Spotify. That’s great too. Maybe you’re watching this on YouTube.

00:57:47:16 – 00:58:14:18
Kyle Pearce
That’s awesome as well. But the reality is, as we see lots of downloads, thousands and thousands of downloads each and every week, but only a handful of reviews that come in. So take that time. It would mean a ton to us, but more importantly, it’ll mean more to the educators who find the podcast because your ratings and reviews elevate the podcast to be shared more widely by these podcasting platforms.

00:58:14:20 – 00:58:34:16
Jon Orr
Hey, and folks, this was a mentoring moment episode and all of our mentoring Moment episodes. We chat with a teacher like Ryan, like yourself on a pebble that’s currently rattling around in their shoes. We try to shake that out. You could be our next mentoring moment. Yes, All you have to do is head on over to McMath moments, dot com port slash mentor.

00:58:34:18 – 00:58:58:23
Jon Orr
There’s three steps there. You’re going to book a call with us and we’re going to chat about your pebble. We would encourage you to do the rate and review and then we’re going to have a quick chat about what’s happening in your class. And at the end of that chat you’re going to do some next steps. You can have a big takeaway that you can take and put into your classroom so that you can make the changes and that pebble is out of there or that’s pushed to the side for a bit and then we fix it a little bit later.

00:58:58:23 – 00:59:05:22
Jon Orr
So that is your action to do. If you want to chat with us, head on over to make an out of Monster.com for session Mentor.

00:59:05:24 – 00:59:32:01
Kyle Pearce
I love it. And keep in mind maybe you’ve got a pebble that you’re like, I don’t know if I could do this publicly. We can definitely do it with your camera off and we can use a avatar name. And even Ali, our awesome, awesome editor, could probably even, like, change your voice if you needed to. So all challenges are welcome and we work with you to try to make sure that we can be as helpful to you as possible.

00:59:32:01 – 00:59:50:24
Kyle Pearce
And remember district leaders, that means you too. This isn’t just for math classroom teachers. If you are administrator, coach, consultant, facilitator, feel free. You can head over to make math moments dot com forward slash mentor as well. Well until next time my math moment maker friends I’m Kyle Pearce.

00:59:51:01 – 00:59:52:24
Jon Orr
And I’m Jon Orr.

00:59:53:01 – 00:59:56:12
Kyle Pearce
High fives for us.

00:59:56:14 – 01:00:07:11
Jon Orr
And high 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;
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  • 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.