Episode #262: What Are Your Rocks? Discover What Matters Most!

Dec 4, 2023 | Podcast | 0 comments



Episode Summary:

Are you on track to hit the goals you set out for yourself, your school, your district? It’s December, which often marks the half-way point of the school year and also a great time to check your progress on your program’s action plan. 

It’s quite likely that the busy-ness of school has taken you away from your intended focus on what really matters in your school or district’s math program. 

In this episode Kyle and Jon share why we need to define our objectives (Rocks) and how to stay focused when there are so many distractions that seem urgent so that when the end of the year comes we can look back to our progress and know that we’re moving toward our targets.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Why we need to define what our “rocks” are and what matters most in our math programs;
  • How to know when you’re focussing on the wrong things; 
  •  What we can do today to pivot and focus on the right things in our math classrooms; 
  • Why the biggest thing is to make the biggest thing the biggest thing. 

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00:00:00:08 – 00:00:22:09
Kyle Pearce
Whether this is getting better or whether it’s getting worse or whether it’s staying the same. Right. Am I taking the temperature right? If you talk about boiling a pot of water, if I’m doing something, I’m trying to boil this pot of water and I never check the temperature of the water. I don’t know if what I’m doing is getting it warmer or making it colder or if it’s just staying exactly the same.

00:00:22:11 – 00:00:53:08
Kyle Pearce
I need to be monitoring this so I know that, hey, if I try this, does that make it get warmer? Yeah. Okay. Maybe I do a little bit more of that. Is there something else I can add to the mix here? But if I don’t know what it is that I’m actually doing, and if, let’s say I’m going from one stove to another stove to another stove and I’m trying to heat up all these different pots of water and I’m not paying attention to the ones I was paying attention to last week, I’m going to have a lot of pots on the stove with a lot of water that’s at room temperature, and I haven’t

00:00:53:08 – 00:01:09:08
Kyle Pearce
managed to bring any of them to a boil.

00:01:09:10 – 00:01:14:04
Kyle Pearce
Welcome to the Making Mouth Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle Pearce.

00:01:14:04 – 00:01:17:03
Jon Orr
In I’m Jon Orr, we are from makemathmoments.com.

00:01:17:07 – 00:01:27:23
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.

00:01:28:00 – 00:01:33:15
Jon Orr
We do that by helping you cultivate and foster your mathematics program a strong, healthy balance tree.

00:01:33:15 – 00:01:41:24
Kyle Pearce
If you master the six parts of an effective mathematics program, the impact of your math program will grow and reach far and wide.

00:01:41:24 – 00:01:54:11
Jon Orr
Every week you’ll get the insight you need to stop feeling overwhelmed, gain back your confidence and get back to enjoying the planning and facilitating your mathematics program for the students or the educators. You, sir.

00:01:54:15 – 00:02:20:15
Kyle Pearce
Well, my friends, we are ready to dig into a John and Kyle episode here, and the timing is pretty awesome because I’ll tell you this much, John. We were recording this late in November. We just wrapped up the virtual summit this past weekend and we’ve been tying loose ends and all kinds of wonderful, wonderful things from all of the learning that’s been going on in the virtual summit.

00:02:20:15 – 00:02:41:06
Kyle Pearce
And something I often think about as we get to this time of the year, we have the virtual summit. Usually it’s like school has just begun. When we start sharing, when opening the door for registration for the summit and there’s this big lead up and people are excited and then all of a sudden the summit happens. It’s a fantastic event.

00:02:41:06 – 00:03:06:17
Kyle Pearce
You and I are exhausted. We commit three full days, pretty much stuck to our computers, introducing speakers, doing some, speaking ourselves and trying to keep all of the balls in the air. And something that we tend to notice, though, is that this is the time of the year where we’re inching closer to that halfway point, that midway point of the school year, at least for those schools in the northern hemisphere.

00:03:06:19 – 00:03:31:04
Kyle Pearce
And it’s something that for you and I, we heard it in the summit. We’re also hearing it with our district leaders at the different districts that we work with and partner with. And that is this idea of feeling like it’s like the school year is taking off on us and we haven’t quite gotten our brains wrapped around our thoughts.

00:03:31:04 – 00:03:56:22
Kyle Pearce
Our plans fully crystallized as to what it is that we want to do. And of course we always say we know what we want. In the end, we want students to have a productive disposition towards mathematics. We want them to feel confident in mathematics. We know a lot of those things. But what I mean by the plan is like, what specifically are we going to do in order to help gain ground?

00:03:56:22 – 00:04:28:09
Kyle Pearce
Because one thing that I’ve never ran into a educator or a district leader, I’ve never heard a district leader come to us and say, you know, we’re going to start trying hard this year to get better. Right? They’re like, we just we really haven’t been working hard in the past. That’s something we never hear. Everyone is working as hard as they can, given what they know and what they’ve sort of, I guess, created as habits that relate to the work that they’re doing, be it in the classroom or in the district.

00:04:28:11 – 00:04:51:09
Kyle Pearce
And really, we want to use this episode today to kind of get to the root of some of the challenges and hopefully help people kind of overcome some of these barriers because these starts start to creep into our mind and we start to question, am I doing the right work right, and how do I have the greatest impact on the students or the educators that I’m serving?

00:04:51:11 – 00:05:06:22
Jon Orr
Yeah, I love the work that district partners, the ones who we partner with a handful each year and they are putting the work in and they are focusing on the right things. This is what I love about the program, but we often get people reach out to us and district leaders reach out to us, leaders, they reach out to us.

00:05:06:23 – 00:05:30:14
Jon Orr
They’re at this point in, almost like you said, how a mid-year is coming. And it’s kind of like, wait a minute, I wanted to focus on like the big things. I wanted to make sure that I was working towards the right things and had alignments last spring, get a webinar where we talked about alignment. We had a lot of a lot of district leaders on there and a lot of them were like, Yeah, I got it.

00:05:30:14 – 00:05:51:03
Jon Orr
We got to make a point of that. And then it’s like everyone, I think over the summer was like, We got it. We got to get our big objectives lined up. We got to make sure that we put our action plans in place and then the school year opens the gates, right? So like stuff, stuff is happening. It’s PD over here, PD over here.

00:05:51:09 – 00:06:07:00
Jon Orr
And it might not be the PD that you envisioned that you had back in the summer with when my objectives are because all of a sudden superintendents got a different focus. All of a sudden this principal is like, I need you to do this. This person saying I need this to happen. All of a sudden this teacher needs this other thing.

00:06:07:00 – 00:06:38:06
Jon Orr
And it’s like, Wait a minute, I thought I had a limit and now we’re back to throwing spaghetti at the wall and it’s like you’re in the weeds. It’s hard to work on what you need to work on when you’re in the weeds. That gets scary a little bit because it’s like coming to the halfway point. Do we really want to go through another year where we’ve been throwing spaghetti at the wall and we haven’t really been making sure there’s a focus to where the important things are, what the important things are for your district.

00:06:38:08 – 00:06:52:04
Jon Orr
And so by the end of the year, we’ve measured our important things and at the end of the year we can say, we did this, we did this, we did this, and we achieved these results. You know what? That’s the scary part about December. It’s coming and it’s like, wait a minute, have we done that?

00:06:52:06 – 00:07:15:09
Kyle Pearce
It’s so, so true. And I think what you and I often reminded of this story that I don’t believe actually the author of this story or this parable is known, but it’s about the jar. And I think it was the way the story is told. It’s like a philosophy lecturer who puts a jar on the table and adds rocks to it.

00:07:15:09 – 00:07:43:12
Kyle Pearce
These big rocks, and fills it to the top with these big rocks. And that’s the group and says, Is the jar full? And everyone in the audience is, well, yeah, you’re looking at it and you’re going, okay, the jar is full. And then we takes marbles and he pours marbles in there and the marbles kind of fit in around these big rocks and then ask the question again and says, yes, the jar is full, and then he pours water or sand or whatever version of the story that you’re listening to.

00:07:43:14 – 00:08:23:00
Kyle Pearce
But the reality is, is like when we think about this and if you were to think about whether you’re in the classroom, in your own classroom, whether you are in a district, the reality is, is that what you have is you have this massive jar and you have a lot of things going on. And the trouble is, is that what we often forget to do or we don’t take enough time to continually refine and articulate is what are the big rocks in that jar, what are the marbles and what is the sand or the water that’s taking up the other space?

00:08:23:00 – 00:08:49:24
Kyle Pearce
Because the reality is something we heard in a lot of the chats throughout the summit, but something we also hear from the district leaders that we work with is there’s just so much going on. And the reality is, is, yes, if you think about the grains of sand in there, those are all things that are going on. But the difference is, is which ones are we going to commit more of our time and energy towards not saying that we’re going to dump the sand out of the jar either?

00:08:49:24 – 00:09:20:16
Kyle Pearce
We’re not saying that these things don’t matter or will never matter, or we’ll never become rocks, because that’s the other piece too, is that we need to have only a select number of rocks and from there we can then start thinking about what are some of the other pieces that are in there. But the reality is, is that if we’re just putting our head down and we’re treating everything like the sand that’s in that jar, then nothing really matters, right?

00:09:20:16 – 00:09:48:13
Kyle Pearce
Basically, you’re just putting your head down. You’re putting in the best days work you can, and you’re hoping that if I line up enough of my hardest working days in a row that we’re going to see something different happen at the end. But if you really think about that logically, what you’re kind of saying and what you’re sort of suggesting is that you either didn’t work that hard the year before, and that’s the reason why we didn’t have the impact we’re looking for.

00:09:48:13 – 00:10:09:10
Kyle Pearce
Or the person in your role last year didn’t work as hard as you did, and that was all that was missing. But I think in reality we know that that’s actually not really the challenge. It’s not that we didn’t work as hard as we could, it’s what are we working on? And when I put that hard work in, am I putting it in the right areas?

00:10:09:12 – 00:10:34:13
Kyle Pearce
And furthermore, do I actually know if it’s making a difference? Do I actually have any sort of way for me to monitor whether this is getting better or whether it’s getting worse or whether it’s staying the same? Right. Am I taking the temperature right? If you talk about boiling a pot of water, if I’m doing something, I’m trying to boil this pot of water and I never check the temperature of the water.

00:10:34:15 – 00:10:52:24
Kyle Pearce
I don’t know if what I’m doing is getting it warmer or making it colder or if it’s just staying exactly the same. I need to be monitoring this so I know that, hey, if I tried this, does that make it get warmer? Yeah. Okay, maybe I do a little bit more of that. Is there something else I can add to the mix here?

00:10:53:01 – 00:11:11:05
Kyle Pearce
But if I don’t know what it is that I’m actually doing, and if, let’s say I’m going from one stove to another stove to another stove and I’m trying to heat up all these different pots of water and I’m not paying attention to the ones I was paying attention to last week, I’m going to have a lot of pots on the stove with a lot of water that’s at room temperature.

00:11:11:07 – 00:11:14:23
Kyle Pearce
And I have it manage to bring any of them to a boil.

00:11:15:00 – 00:11:34:14
Jon Orr
When you think about what you had said about the rocks in the jar, what’s happening is we’re in the weeds and for not monitoring all of the things that we really need to focus on, then that parabola is that if you put the sand in first, we put the marbles in, next you add the water, then there’s no room for the rocks.

00:11:34:14 – 00:11:57:01
Jon Orr
You can’t focus on the rocks. You can’t get the rocks in the jar if you put all the other stuff in first. And that’s what’s happening mid-year. All this stuff is piling up and there’s no room to like sit down and go, Where do the rocks fit? And we actually have to reverse it, right? You have to put the rocks in first and then you can add all their other stuff because you put the marbles in second.

00:11:57:03 – 00:12:14:06
Jon Orr
They’ll fit around it, like you said. And then the sand goes in and the water goes in last and everything’s going to fit and everything’s going to fit is if you do it in that order. But we thought we would do it in that order. That’s why in the summer, thinking about all the rocks first made sense. But we didn’t maybe get them nailed down the way we needed to nail them down.

00:12:14:06 – 00:12:28:06
Jon Orr
We didn’t plan it the way we need to plan it. So it’s like there’s a phrase that I remember how I read in a book. Again, I don’t think there’s any particular author. You can say it a million different ways, but it’s like what we have to do and this is where we are right now coming up on midyear.

00:12:28:06 – 00:12:40:00
Jon Orr
We have to do this one thing, which is the one thing is to make the one thing the one thing, the most important thing is to make the most important thing. The most important thing. That’s what we have to do.

00:12:40:06 – 00:12:57:18
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, I’ve heard it another way where they say, like, the big thing is to make the big thing. The big thing. And like you said, there’s so many different ways to say what we’re trying to articulate here. But I want to back up because I got an interesting visual that I don’t think I had before we hit record here today.

00:12:57:18 – 00:13:22:21
Kyle Pearce
But just that thought when you said, like if you added the sand first, you can’t even get the marbles in, right? And you can’t get the rocks in, of course, because now it’s just full of sand and if we picture this jar, this jar really is your energy. It’s your time. It’s the maximum that you can commit to the work, be it at the classroom level, at the school level, at the district level.

00:13:22:23 – 00:13:47:03
Kyle Pearce
And if we have too many grains of sand in there ahead of those rocks, then we’re left committing just a tiny bit to us. So many different things. So by putting in the rock, so you had said something, but it actually does force you to leave some of the sand out for at least now. Right? So that is something to consider.

00:13:47:06 – 00:14:10:00
Kyle Pearce
If I take those rocks, let’s picture it as three big rocks, because we always talk about three big objectives with the districts that we work with. We’re not saying that we’re never going to add back any of the other sand or marbles that we can’t fit in right now. But if you only have so much time in a day or so much energy or so much budget or so much PD time, the list goes on.

00:14:10:02 – 00:14:30:14
Kyle Pearce
The reality is that if we just jam all the sand in, then we’re basically saying, let’s just keep doing what we’ve always done and you might get lucky here and there, right? You might have this one thing that caused some sort of positive change. But here’s the really interesting part. It’s like, what is that positive change? You don’t even really know because you’re not measuring it.

00:14:30:14 – 00:14:34:12
Kyle Pearce
There’s no way for you to measure all of those grains of sand, Right?

00:14:34:14 – 00:14:56:10
Jon Orr
Show me the data that says we’ve done a great job. Show me the data that says that the things that we did this year worked and then we keep moving along. But oftentimes we’re like, man, we’re in an emergency situation. When we look at our student data and we need to make some changes, but then we want to add to our plates instead of make changes.

00:14:56:10 – 00:15:05:17
Kyle Pearce
So if we start thinking about this and we start to think about, okay, I think we’ve given everyone a visual, maybe even different possible visuals that they have now to picture.

00:15:05:17 – 00:15:06:21
Jon Orr
These metaphors going.

00:15:06:21 – 00:15:27:21
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, lots of metaphors. Pick the one that you like, whatever works. But the reality is, is I mean, that is the reality is like, okay, we need to do that now. I’m going to picture, for example, I want to start at the classroom level. Let’s say I’m a teacher and I’m thinking about this and I’m going, Holy smokes, Yeah, I’ve been packing my jar with as much sand as possible that I haven’t picked.

00:15:27:21 – 00:15:51:09
Kyle Pearce
What rocks? I haven’t decided what my rocks are. And, you know, if you really we’ve talked about this in previous episodes, this idea of auditing what it is that you’re doing. And the reality is there’s a lot of things that we do throughout the day that we’ve always done, whether it’s just something you got in an early habit of doing or that someone, a teacher that you were a mentee of or something always did.

00:15:51:09 – 00:16:17:10
Kyle Pearce
So you always do it that way. And you really have to start thinking about everything that takes your attention and time in the day and start to evaluate what is the actual gain that I’m getting here. And then most importantly, what’s the loss if I spend less time or focus less attention on it. So what I mean by that is that there’s some activities.

00:16:17:10 – 00:16:40:09
Kyle Pearce
So for example, for me, I used to make really, really, really pretty handouts. I’m just going to go ahead and set. I actually took pride in making these handouts and my goal for making these handouts wasn’t just to make pretty handouts, right? I enjoyed doing it. I was proud when I did it, but my goal was to help kids learn math.

00:16:40:11 – 00:17:05:24
Kyle Pearce
But if I really go back and I think about how many hours I spent making them as pretty as I did, and I’m not saying to just slop it together, you have to have some balance, but I personally am saying for me I overcommitted, I took my jar and basically those handouts I was designing, whether I recognized it or not, because I didn’t intend for this to happen.

00:17:06:05 – 00:17:22:05
Kyle Pearce
I basically made that my son actually brought this to me. He didn’t know we were talking about rocks, but he brought me my little paperweight from Father’s Day a few years ago. For those on YouTube, you can see. But I took that idea of making a pretty hand out, and I made that a rock without even realizing it.

00:17:22:05 – 00:17:56:13
Kyle Pearce
And I chucked it in the jar. And that took up a lot of my time, my energy, my focus. And there were other things that suffered because of it right now, again, maybe you have a different opinion on that. Maybe you think, No, I need to spend more time on handouts. That’s up for you to decide. But I know for a fact that had I taken and spent 10% of the amount of time on the way the handout looked, I would have had more time to focus on what really matters, which I recognize now.

00:17:56:13 – 00:18:24:15
Kyle Pearce
I should have been spending way more time doing the math myself so that I had a better understanding of what kids might actually do when I give them a problem to solve in my math class. And I’m going to argue that if you were to take even just one day a regular typical day, and you were to just document or journal after your day is done, or maybe it’s throughout the day when you have a moment and just sort of say like, where am I focusing my attention?

00:18:24:17 – 00:18:44:06
Kyle Pearce
And I audit that for a day, and then you can almost look at what you’re doing and you could probably say, You know what, my rocks are These things right here, here, here and here. And then you have to decide, is that the rocks you want, right? For some people, they’re going like, I didn’t take time to think about what the rocks are.

00:18:44:12 – 00:19:10:15
Kyle Pearce
Well, go and figure out what what are the rocks? You have rocks, whether you realize it or not. You may have just done it unconscious sleep. That is taking up your time and attention. And then when we think about doing anything else differently, we assume that there’s no room in this jar. But maybe I need to start thinking about whether some of the things I’m doing should be marbles or whether some of those marbles should be sand and so on and so forth.

00:19:10:15 – 00:19:33:12
Kyle Pearce
And I think by just looking at where that time and energy and focus is going and actually asking yourself whether the thing you’re doing for that time and attention and energy, whether that thing itself is actually helping to move the needle, whether it’s necessary to keep the needle where it’s at. Right. If I stop doing this, the needle will actually go down.

00:19:33:12 – 00:19:58:17
Kyle Pearce
Okay, maybe we don’t do that or whether it’s actually having a negative impact, Maybe you don’t even realize that. But if you actually think about it, some of the things we do oftentimes lead to negative results that we didn’t even intend. But if we go, wow, I’m spending a lot of time doing X, Y, or Z, and I didn’t realize it, but I think it’s actually holding my kids back from doing something, then you can start there and start to go, You know what?

00:19:58:17 – 00:20:09:24
Kyle Pearce
How do I reframe this and how do I start deciding and sort of recreating a reimagining what these rocks really could and should be for me in my particular role.

00:20:10:01 – 00:20:34:03
Jon Orr
Yeah, those are great kind of thought exercises for everyone to think about. You know, Kyle and we talked a lot on this podcast about how to start the school year off, right? That’s partly trying to think about that. We’ve had episodes where we talk about the pillars of math class, like our pillars are really important and those are our rocks think those are the most important things that we say in our math class, and we all have to decide what those rocks are for ourselves because that.

00:20:34:03 – 00:20:56:10
Jon Orr
Kyle I think the question we get asked the most is what should I focus on? What does make the most difference? And there’s like a bunch of resources. There are books written about math instruction. There is. And Ktm’s got the eight effective teaching practices. We’ve got the Common Core. You got everything telling you what’s important about math education.

00:20:56:10 – 00:21:13:16
Jon Orr
But you also have to decide what is the most important for you and for your students. With the districts that we first meet with, they’re thinking about our district improvement program. They want to know that, right? They want to know what should I focus on? Tell me the secret. Tell me the secret and we’ll fix it. We can tell you.

00:21:13:16 – 00:21:37:17
Jon Orr
We can tell you what you should focus on, but it’s going to be more worthwhile if you decide for yourself what you feel is the most important parts of your math vision for your district and what you think your teachers needs. So we always recommend doing our magic One Wish list thinking about what do we want to see in five years if we’re even thinking about this?

00:21:37:17 – 00:21:48:07
Jon Orr
If you’re in a position you’re listening to this right now, I’m even nodding along. You know what’s most important now? It’s about going got to make it. We got to make the most important thing. Always the most important thing.

00:21:48:09 – 00:22:05:03
Kyle Pearce
I love it. And I think, too, it’s like what you were saying with districts. Sometimes it’s almost like they have this hope in their mind. They’ll just tell us and then we could just do it and then we’ll be on track by next week. Right? And it’s like the reality is, is that it really depends on what have you done so far?

00:22:05:03 – 00:22:36:24
Kyle Pearce
Where are you in this journey? What matters to the people in your district? Right. These are different students. These are different educators. This is a different situation. But the reality, too, is that if I can think to myself throughout my day and this isn’t just teaching, it’s not just leading a district or being an administrator, but like if just in your everyday life you were to ask yourself more often of whether the thing you’re about to do is going to have a positive impact or a negative impact.

00:22:36:24 – 00:23:01:23
Kyle Pearce
And of course there’s in between as well. Those are extremes. But is this thing going to be helpful or not so helpful? Is it going to matter or not matter? Is it going to have a positive impact or a negative impact? And at the end of the day, if we’re asking ourselves these questions more and more often, that can help you to shape as well.

00:23:01:23 – 00:23:21:14
Kyle Pearce
Because what I think is really important, as I think people are sometimes scared to pick the rocks their are scared to go, These are my rocks, because then they think it’s published in some sort of paper or in a book, or it’s going to be forever pasted. Next to your name is like the three things that you thought were really important.

00:23:21:14 – 00:23:48:07
Kyle Pearce
And that’s not really the point. That’s not the point at all. The point is that if you’re going to put a lot of effort into something, let’s put it into three really big things that you think are really important so that you can more quickly realize that it either is or it isn’t. And then you can go all in on that rock if it makes sense to you, or you can decide that maybe it’s not exactly as important as I thought it was, but you have an answer.

00:23:48:09 – 00:24:05:09
Kyle Pearce
Whereas right now, if I just have all these grains of sand and I think they’re all equally important, then I’m never going to know. I’m never going to know what’s going to matter here, what’s going to make a difference. So ultimately, at the end of the day, I think you have to give yourself permission and remember that rocks.

00:24:05:13 – 00:24:33:19
Kyle Pearce
It’s not that you only get three rocks. And once you decide what those three rocks are, you can never change them. They can never be updated, they can never be refined. It’s quite the opposite. So you should actually be looking at your jar as often as possible and go like, does this still make sense? Is it still in line with why I put these things in here and why I gave the size to these certain ideas and why I gave less size or less importance to some of these other ones?

00:24:33:21 – 00:24:55:11
Kyle Pearce
Does that still make sense? Not because it’s not quote unquote, working on the scores or the student scores of a student achievement data. But because you’re going, you know what, this actually isn’t what I thought it was going to be or it didn’t have the impact. Or maybe I need to go back to the drawing board and I need to figure out exactly what it is I need to do in order to do that thing better.

00:24:55:13 – 00:25:19:18
Kyle Pearce
But ultimately, at the end of the day, if I’m not reflecting about these things because I don’t know what to reflect on, there’s just too many of them, then I’m going to be stuck. And guess what? This time next year, in 2024, we’re recording this end of November 2023. It’s going to be end in November 2024, and we’re going to be sitting there going, I’m just as tired as I was last year.

00:25:19:23 – 00:25:44:17
Kyle Pearce
I’m working just as hard as I did last year, but I’m not actually feel like we’re getting any closer. And that’s just not a place that I want to be in anymore. And I’m sure for any listener you’re thinking you don’t want to be there either. So committing that time, that effort, that focus, making the priority, what are the priorities right?

00:25:44:17 – 00:26:06:17
Kyle Pearce
So the big thing is figuring out what the big thing is and then going big on that. You’ve got to do what it is that you need to do in order to get on track so that you feel that the energy you’re putting into something is actually going to have a payoff at the end, and it’s not going to lead to just another year of the same old same old.

00:26:06:17 – 00:26:32:10
Kyle Pearce
Right. Because, again, effort, we see it out there. People are giving it. And honestly, let’s take that weight off of your shoulders. I feel like there’s so many people stressed out because of how hard they work, but yet it’s just pausing. Sometimes you got to slow down to go fast. And this is one of those scenarios where you really got to slow down so you can think this thing through and go, What is going to have the greatest payoff here?

00:26:32:12 – 00:26:49:12
Jon Orr
We do a series of activities to help create the vision and the objectives and the key results and the measurement tools with the districts that we work with. But one of the first things we do is do that magic wand wish list, and we use a specific workbook with the districts to kind of help narrow what that focus should be.

00:26:49:12 – 00:27:06:14
Jon Orr
And we’re there along the way to help make that focus. And like, like I said before, it’s like we could give it to you, but there’s more value in us doing it together and you’re thinking about what you really want to focus on. If you want that workbook or if you’re listening to this right now, you want that workbook and you want to watch the webinar we did last year, you missed it.

00:27:06:15 – 00:27:32:04
Jon Orr
Or maybe you need a refresher because it’s mid-year head on over to make math moments dot com For such, what matters most make math moments dot com forward slash what matters most. And then you can opt in there and get our webinar in our workbook and get started or maybe pick up where you left off because you know what, like like said, it’s November and we don’t want to be here next year or we don’t want to be at the end of this year going.

00:27:32:04 – 00:27:33:08
Jon Orr
We haven’t started yet.

00:27:33:10 – 00:27:55:15
Kyle Pearce
So hopefully you’re looking at this. This is not to try to stress people out any more so than you might be, but just there’s still time. There’s still time to get on track. And, you know, if we’re looking at our math program Tree and the six areas of the math program of an effective math program, we’re really talking today specifically about the trunk.

00:27:55:17 – 00:28:17:01
Kyle Pearce
Right. And we’re looking at it from that leadership perspective in the classroom. We talk about it being like the pillars, your classroom pillars. But even on the classroom side, it really is a leadership piece because we’re talking about what matters day to day in what you do as an educator in the classroom. And sometimes that means letting go of certain things.

00:28:17:03 – 00:28:39:09
Kyle Pearce
Sometimes that means going harder on other things. But ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s leaders that actually take the time to set the vision to actually think things through, and then they actually put through or they enact that vision. And that can happen at the classroom level and it can happen all the way up at the organizational level.

00:28:39:15 – 00:29:05:14
Kyle Pearce
But ultimately, at this time of the year, really take a moment to pause because I’m going to guess that you’re exhausted already, right? You’ve been going and giving the best you possibly can, and you want the best for all your students. So take that time to be the leader you are and reframe, right, Refocus a little bit and make sure the trajectory is aiming in the direction that you wanted it to this year.

00:29:05:16 – 00:29:23:20
Kyle Pearce
If it’s not, then you start rethinking and it doesn’t mean that you’re giving up on your plan. It means that you’re modifying, right? You’re pivoting and doing what you think is going to be best and you’re just making sure that those three rocks or however many rocks you think is important in your classroom, those things are going to be front and center.

00:29:23:22 – 00:29:43:14
Jon Orr
Folks, we want to thank you for listening today and thinking about your math program at the classroom level. That’s District level. If you want that workbook and in to access that webinar, you can head on over to make math moment dot com for such what matters most or you can head to our show notes page where we put all the links for all the things that we talk about.

00:29:43:15 – 00:29:55:07
Jon Orr
They are ordered by episode number so you can head to make math moments dot com for us. Episode 262 again that’s make math moments dot com forwards episode to 62.

00:29:55:09 – 00:30:23:17
Kyle Pearce
Hey listen friends if you haven’t yet pause hit a rating and review button on your podcast platform. It goes a massive way in helping us to find more math moment makers just like you. So if you made it to this part of the episode, it means that you know what you’ve been listening and you’re finding some value, help someone else find that same value so that they can put some of these strategies into action in their classrooms.

00:30:23:19 – 00:30:28:05
Kyle Pearce
Well, until next time. Math Homemaker Friends. I’m Kyle Pearce.

00:30:28:05 – 00:30:29:07
Jon Orr
And I’m Jon Orr.

00:30:29:07 – 00:30:32:17
Kyle Pearce
High fives for us.

00:30:32:19 – 00:30:42:00
Jon Orr
And our 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.