Episode #263: When Calling Parents Isn’t Your Calling – An Interview With Crystal Frommert

Dec 11, 2023 | Podcast | 0 comments



Episode Summary:

Get ready Math Moment Makers for a great “call” with Crystal Frommert, who will be sharing some great tips and strategies that we can put to use to promote productive conversations with parents – especially when the news isn’t necessarily positive. 

We’ve all been there before: a student is experiencing struggles in our math class and the time has come where we must make that informative call to ensure parents are in the know. Let’s reframe how we look at conversations with parents by leveraging some of the ideas that Crystal shares in her book, When Calling Parents Isn’t Your Calling. 

What You’ll Learn:

  • Why the first conversation you have with parents is an opportunity to ensure they know you have their child’s best interests in mind;
  • What language swaps should educators being using to create a welcoming vibe; 
  • How to communicate a student’s mathematical progress to a parent/caregiver with clarity, empathy, and hope.

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00:00:00:12 – 00:00:20:10
Crystal Frommert
You’re willing to try something, you’re willing to work with your child to differentiate and to find a solution that works for that. That’s all they really want. That’s all we want as parents, right? Do you see my child? Do you know my child? Are you willing to take risks so that or innovate so that we can try different solutions?

00:00:20:12 – 00:00:22:09
Crystal Frommert
I don’t know if you know, but seventh graders change.

00:00:22:09 – 00:00:43:04
Kyle Pearce
Get ready. Math moment makers for a great call with Crystal Frommer. You’ll see what I did there in just a second. She’s going to be sharing some great tips and strategies that we can put to use to promote productive conversations with parents, especially when the news isn’t necessarily positive.

00:00:43:06 – 00:01:06:21
Jon Orr
I see what you did there. Yeah. If you read the title, you you hear we’ve all been there before. A student is experiencing struggles in our math class and the time has come where we must make that informative call to ensure parents are in the know. Let’s reframe how we look a conversation with parents by leveraging some of the ideas that Crystal shares here in this session, but also in her book When Calling Parents.

00:01:06:21 – 00:01:09:00
Jon Orr
Isn’t Your Calling.

00:01:09:02 – 00:01:29:10
Kyle Pearce
Let’s hit it. Oh, oh. Welcome to the Making Mouth Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle Pierce.

00:01:29:10 – 00:01:31:20
Jon Orr
And I’m John or we are from Matthew moments dot com.

00:01:31:24 – 00:01:41:19
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.

00:01:41:19 – 00:01:54:22
Jon Orr
And we do that by helping you cultivate and foster your mathematics program like a strong, healthy and balanced tree. So if you mastered six parts an effective mathematics program, the impact of the work that you do will reach and grow far and wide.

00:01:55:03 – 00:02:10:13
Kyle Pearce
Every week you’ll get the insight you need to stop feeling overwhelmed, gain back your confidence, and get back to enjoying the planning. And facilitating of your mathematics program for the students or the educators that you serve.

00:02:10:15 – 00:02:33:11
Jon Orr
Yes. Yes. So we are just about to jump into this conversation with Crystal. Crystal joined us in the 2023 Make Math Moments virtual summit. And on this same topic, talking about how to communicate with parents, how to call parents. We’re going to talk about that in just a second. It was a great conversation. If you would like to dive into that, it’s less.

00:02:33:14 – 00:02:56:01
Jon Orr
All 30 other sessions from the summit back in November. Head on over to make math moments dot com force academy. Join the academy and get access to that summit plus all four other summits and then all of our courses and our tasks and our units head on over to make macrumors.com for us. All right, let’s get to it.

00:02:56:03 – 00:03:28:08
Kyle Pearce
Here we go. Hey. Hey there, Crystal. Welcome to the Making Mask Moments That Matter podcast. We’re super excited to have you on. And actually, to be honest, we would have loved to have had you ahead of the virtual summit. But the way schedules go, we just couldn’t make it happen in time. But your session was awesome. Folks loved it and we wanted to make sure that the podcast community, the math moment makers learn about you and everything there is to know about your topic here.

00:03:28:08 – 00:03:35:23
Kyle Pearce
But before we do, let everybody know where are you coming to us from and who are we speaking to? Crystal Who are we talking to today?

00:03:36:03 – 00:03:52:14
Crystal Frommert
Yes, well, I’m so excited to be on the show because I have to say, this is one of my favorite podcasts as a math teacher. And I listen to podcasts as I walk my dog very early in the morning. And I love listening to your new episodes. So this is such an honor to be on the show. So thank you.

00:03:52:14 – 00:04:13:16
Crystal Frommert
And I am Crystal Farmer. I am from Houston, Texas. I am a math teacher and I am also an administrator at a very large international school in Houston. Houston is a very international city, and we have students from about 60 different countries at our school, and it’s a fabulous place to work. And I love our math department. I think it’s the best in the world.

00:04:13:18 – 00:04:23:04
Jon Orr
Amazing love that we’ve actually been to Houston. I think Kyle, I think more than most cities, yes, we’ve been there I think great four times in the last two years. So what’s the.

00:04:23:04 – 00:04:36:19
Kyle Pearce
Barbecue spot, John, that we always go to? We always forget it. And then when we get there, we search and then we find it and it is something pit. I feel like that’s so generic. There’s like a probably a game called.

00:04:36:19 – 00:04:40:20
Jon Orr
But anyway, that’s we get there. We can never remember the name but.

00:04:40:20 – 00:04:42:11
Crystal Frommert
I’m a massive parents so we don’t.

00:04:42:14 – 00:05:05:05
Jon Orr
Oh yeah, this is not a barbecue then this is like, oh my gosh, we have to go lay down. But yeah. Krystal, you have to ask us to everybody, every one of our guests, which is when we say math class, things pop into our brains like images. Memories stick with us over time. And we want to know, like when we say math class, what math moment has stuck with you all these years?

00:05:05:07 – 00:05:25:13
Crystal Frommert
Yeah, I have a quite typical story that for many kids that I was a really strong student in elementary school and it was fast. And I did all the things that you were supposed to be to be, quote, good at math. And then that all fell apart, probably when I started middle school. And I wasn’t, quote unquote, good anymore.

00:05:25:13 – 00:05:46:10
Crystal Frommert
And I was just kind of a mediocre math student and didn’t really love it anymore. And that’s exactly why I’m a middle school math teacher now, because I kind of want to save those kids who used to love it and then in middle school that it somehow stopped loving it. And my goal is to to keep them in love with math and keep them wondering and seeing the beauty of math.

00:05:46:12 – 00:06:07:05
Kyle Pearce
That’s fantastic. I mean, it’s not fantastic that your experience wasn’t that way. But we do hear math moments that often times there’s some sort of scenario. At some point we always say it’s like when you fell off the wagon, the math wagon, right? For some kids, it’s early. For some kids, it’s in middle school. For some students, it’s in high school.

00:06:07:05 – 00:06:24:24
Kyle Pearce
For me, it was in second year university. I’ve mentioned that a number of times on the podcast and it’s really great when you’re able to dust yourself off from those experiences and kind of go, How could we do this better? How can we improve on this so that this isn’t the same for other students and we’re getting closer.

00:06:24:24 – 00:06:47:01
Kyle Pearce
We still have a long way to go, but it’s awesome that you’ve taken on that challenge. So we want to not waste any time here and dive straight in to something that you are pretty passionate about. Actually, your book, when calling parents isn’t Your Calling is the topic that you had shared at the virtual summit for the math moment maker.

00:06:47:01 – 00:07:13:18
Kyle Pearce
So do us a favor. Tell us a little bit more. The title is very it gives us insight into what it is that the book is all about. But I guess what inspired you to kind of write a book like that and I guess get you passionate about that idea? And then I suppose what sort of strategies are you trying to help our educators grapple with in their day to day when they’re dealing with students and parents in math class?

00:07:13:20 – 00:07:40:01
Crystal Frommert
Yes, I think I got the idea when I started writing for Ed Utopia. I’m now a frequent writer for Ed Utopia, but when I started in 2020, my very first article was on parent relationships with teachers and how that leads to student success. And from that article I was connected with, a publisher wrote to Awesome, and we collaborated and they encouraged me to turn that article into a book.

00:07:40:03 – 00:07:58:19
Crystal Frommert
And the reason that I’m so passionate about it is because I was not really good at calling parents or having conferences with parents when I was a new teacher. I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I didn’t really know what to say. I would stumble over my words because I was nervous to talk to someone who wasn’t a kid.

00:07:58:21 – 00:08:23:22
Crystal Frommert
And we had no training in undergrad. When I was training to be a teacher, we had no training in how to communicate with parents and guardians. And I have learned so much over my last 23 years of teaching from other administrators, from other teachers who have taught me little nuggets of how to be more confident and how to communicate specifically math progress with parents and and a math class.

00:08:23:22 – 00:08:43:06
Crystal Frommert
You’re not just talking about math, of course. It’s a great social emotional topic, so communicate a lot. And I’m a parent myself. I’ve been a parent for 16 years and I’ve been on the other side of those phone calls and the conferences, and I see both sides and how both sides are actually nervous in those conversations. It’s true.

00:08:43:08 – 00:09:00:21
Jon Orr
Yeah. As soon as you said that I clued in to that exact thing that I think when I reflect back on my experiences, I remember also being super nervous and I think most teachers avoid that call home. It’s like, Oh, I got to call home, and now that’s out of my normal routine. And then I have to talk to a.

00:09:00:21 – 00:09:09:08
Kyle Pearce
Parent, especially if the news isn’t positive, right? Yeah. Like if it’s like you’re like, this is a hard conversation and I’m not exactly sure what to do.

00:09:09:10 – 00:09:27:10
Jon Orr
I remember that. But then I remember it becoming maybe it was because, like you said, you’ve had you’ve been a parent for six years. Me as well. And it’s like, well, maybe it’s so much easier now because we have our own kids have gone through the system and it’s got to be or it’s that we’ve had so much experience calling home.

00:09:27:10 – 00:09:51:23
Jon Orr
There’s that part too, but I think we tend to avoid that call home. Kyle and I read a book called Crucial Conversations, which is a great book for kind of thinking about interacting, having obviously crucial conversations and how to keep mutual respect, but also get your points across with facts versus stories. I remember that being a big piece of we tell ourselves stories about what’s going to happen, but these aren’t the true things that could happen.

00:09:52:00 – 00:10:14:10
Jon Orr
Such an important book I remember. But the most important part is that communication home to the parents, because that team aspect between the student, the parent and the teacher is what makes a difference in kids trajectories. Tell us some of the big takeaways that you’ve had over the years of calling home and what you’ve learned along the way to make those calls impactful.

00:10:14:10 – 00:10:25:18
Jon Orr
It’s like I’m calling home to convey information, but what’s been the most useful strategy that actually gets your point across, but also maybe shares the right information in the right way to the parent right.

00:10:25:18 – 00:10:44:06
Crystal Frommert
I would say the best tip I have or the most important tip perhaps is to be honest, but also to be growth minded. Both of those things can happen at the same time. And I think we want to be kind and we like to sugarcoat and we like to say only good news because we don’t want to be a messenger of bad news.

00:10:44:06 – 00:11:04:07
Crystal Frommert
Right. But we have to be sometimes and we have to have, like you said, those crucial conversations. Right. And just delivering the news and saying your child is struggling with this unit, but give us some kind of statement about growth. I know that he or she could do better with this if we can do these things together. Right.

00:11:04:13 – 00:11:28:16
Crystal Frommert
So it’s a sentence and saying this is really happening, this is the reality. Here’s what we’re going to do to be on the team, to borrow your phrase, because we are a team to be on that team together to help your child to do better with this, because there’s always hope, right? Everyone has room to grow. And so I think that’s the most important thing, is to know there’s honesty and growth mindedness when you’re talking to parents.

00:11:28:18 – 00:11:53:08
Kyle Pearce
I really want to kind of dig in here on the growth mindedness piece because I want to almost open that up a little bit, because I think sometimes we think that we’re being growth minded meaning or having a growth mindset or suggesting like, well, of course they can get better. But one thing that I think is really key is actually giving them an immediate next step as well.

00:11:53:08 – 00:12:10:19
Kyle Pearce
So it’s almost like what should they work on next? Because I do remember and John, like you, I was kind of reflecting back, looking over the years of my career. And when I go all the way to the earliest years, I would call, it’d be like, so-and-so has been behind in this and this and this and this and this.

00:12:10:19 – 00:12:28:20
Kyle Pearce
And they did poorly on that and that and that. Now it’s just a massive problem, right? I had a growth mindset at that point, but I didn’t really set them up for success. So I love how you use the word team. Again, this idea that by creating a team, we want to act like a team and we want to sort of like game plan it together.

00:12:28:20 – 00:12:51:03
Kyle Pearce
So I’m wondering, do you have any sort of say go tos for that when times are I’m going to say like real tough when that conversation. It’s not just that we performed poorly on the most recent assessment or the most recent check in or the most whatever it is, but we actually have a student that has some significant struggles.

00:12:51:05 – 00:13:17:20
Kyle Pearce
How can we again, be honest, right? Keep it positive or as positive as it can be or productive is probably the better word for it, but then also provide them with, I guess, an action where they can feel like there is that hope. Like you had said, we can actually do this work. Are there any go tos or any sort of thinking that you have before say, a conversation like that has to unfold?

00:13:17:22 – 00:13:42:16
Crystal Frommert
Yeah. So I teach middle school, so I teach seventh graders. And this might be different if you’re teaching little kids, but teaching in secondary, you can have some really meaningful conversations with the students themselves, and that will really inform your conversations that you have with their families. So for example, I had a student do not well on a recent assessment, which is a little bit unusual for them.

00:13:42:18 – 00:14:01:03
Crystal Frommert
And so I had a private conversation with that student during lunch and sat down and said, Hey, what happened with this and let’s talk about this. And what came out is he said he feels very anxious when taking tests and he did know all of the material. He did review it, but he just really cannot concentrate during a testing situation.

00:14:01:05 – 00:14:31:17
Crystal Frommert
And so what we came up with is a plan that he is going to take his test in a different room with less students, or he’s going to take it in the empty hallway next time. And if I had not had that conversation with the student, then my conversation with the parent would be less informed. So that’s why I’m a big fan of student led conferences or having the student at conferences or at least having that pre conversation with a student if they’re old enough to do so and just find out, Hey, how are you feeling about this?

00:14:31:17 – 00:14:53:04
Crystal Frommert
How are you feeling about the math? What’s going on? And then you can talk to the parent, say, okay, we had a conversation. Here’s what I may try next. It may not be the solution, but we’re going to try something. And long as the parent knows, you’re willing to try something, you’re willing to work with your child to differentiate and to find a solution that works for that, that’s all they really want.

00:14:53:04 – 00:15:20:21
Crystal Frommert
That’s all we want as parents, right? Do you see my child? Do know my child? Are you willing to take risks so that or innovate so that we can try different solutions? I don’t know if you know, but seventh graders change like the wind changes, right? They they’re interesting beings. And I’m really clear with the parents, especially if it’s their oldest child or their only child, I say, hey, here’s seventh grader might be struggling with this right now.

00:15:20:23 – 00:15:37:21
Crystal Frommert
But hey, next week they might be really excelling because you never know what’s going to happen with a middle schooler. They’re plinko chips. They just go in any direction. Let’s have hope and let’s keep working together and we’ll get through this journey together. And parents are always really appreciative of that kind of conversation.

00:15:37:23 – 00:16:02:16
Jon Orr
Totally, totally. It goes back to that point about going into these conversations with a plan, with that positive atmosphere, that positive vibe, but also giving them that next step in that kind of goes back to what you had said. But also, I think when you convey that you care about the trajectory and growth of the student, first and foremost, no parent is ever going to say put their back up or question you or push back on you.

00:16:02:16 – 00:16:30:21
Jon Orr
When they feel that you feel that you have their best interest at heart and I think you have to convey that in that first phone call, in that first meeting, that’s when a parent is going to be like, Oh, this person’s on my side, you know, and this person’s on our side as a team. And I think sometimes what I’ve seen from teachers that I’ve worked with over the years, that sometimes those are confrontational moments and it’s because that parent and the kid probably has gone home saying like, I’m not sure what’s happening in math class.

00:16:30:21 – 00:16:48:21
Jon Orr
And the parents like, well, let me go find out or let’s talk. And it’s because there’s a lot of feeling in there that the student or the parent doesn’t feel that their kid is being supported in the way that they should be supported or feeling like they have their best interest at heart, which is so important to convey that message in that call.

00:16:48:23 – 00:17:15:07
Jon Orr
So I wonder when I think about those interactions I’ve heard in Witness with other teachers, sometimes it’s because teachers are using language that is unfamiliar or it’s like we are on this side of the table and you’re on that side of the table. And I’ve made it very clear I’m on this side of the table as a math teacher and I’m using it’s almost like they’re trying to separate themselves and it’s because of the language you’re using.

00:17:15:07 – 00:17:26:06
Jon Orr
So I’m curious what language should we be using with parents and is there any swapping that we should be doing along the way to kind of make them and put them at ease so that same side of the table?

00:17:26:08 – 00:17:50:05
Crystal Frommert
Can I say one thing about what you said, though? It was so important, John, when you said the first conversation that you have with parents and I really want to emphasize that because it’s true, it’s super, super important that we connect with parents early in the school year because if we can connect with them early in the square and let them know, hey, I’m on your kid’s side, we’re on a team, I’m here for their growth.

00:17:50:07 – 00:18:20:03
Crystal Frommert
Yeah, it may not always be sunshine and rainbows, but I will never give up on your kids. Then when you do have a conversation that’s not sunshine and rainbows, they’re going to be way less defensive. So it’s really, really important to start with that very first conversation. So thank you for mentioning that. That’s really important. And back to your question about the language that we use, I think about sitcom TV shows, you know, the comedy shows where it’s the teacher behind the desk and the teachers knows everything and is kind of talking down to the parents.

00:18:20:03 – 00:18:45:14
Crystal Frommert
And they see that on TV. It’s is not reality. And so to bridge that gap between the non educator and the educator, we can use certain words that help. And if I say things like really struggle with finding the vertex of the parabola or optimizing the intersections of linear programing, then a parent who’s not a math teacher would be like, What are you doing racking up in the world?

00:18:45:14 – 00:18:47:04
Crystal Frommert
Do I help my kid with that?

00:18:47:05 – 00:18:51:13
Kyle Pearce
They’re like, No wonder they’re struggling. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

00:18:51:15 – 00:19:13:11
Crystal Frommert
What he’s saying. And I can say this as a parent as well. My child, she’s been in Spanish class since she was three years old and she surpassed me in Spanish years ago. And our teachers sometimes will give conferences or give talks completely in Spanish. And I’m like, huh? And so I think when I know, I only know on book.

00:19:13:13 – 00:19:35:01
Crystal Frommert
And so when we’re doing that in math, it can be like speaking a different language sometimes so we can make some swaps instead of getting down into the details of I really need them to use the equality property when they’re solving an equation. You can simplify that and say there are some algebraic processes that your child needs to practice with and they can come to tutorials to work on that.

00:19:35:07 – 00:19:58:01
Crystal Frommert
Do you really need to get down into their multiplying fractions and properly or they’re not subtracting five X on both sides of the equation? That’s not really what’s important and that we can get into the weeds too much with something like that, but give them practical things that they can do at home that especially if they’re older and they’re doing some more complex math, the parent doesn’t necessarily need to help them step by step.

00:19:58:03 – 00:20:12:20
Crystal Frommert
That might be a place where they could go watch a YouTube video and you could send them off to the correct video to watch. So the parent is not sitting there trying to remember algebra one from 30 years ago because that can be so overwhelming. Intimidating for families.

00:20:12:22 – 00:20:38:08
Kyle Pearce
Right? Love it. And you know what I must say, the piece about connecting early and often that you kind of emerge or kind of brought out of what John Ed mentioned is so key. And is this opportunity for us to just start the year off on the right foot to make sure that you’re in their corner, like at this vision, the vision you said from TV, where I’m picturing like, I don’t know if it’s like Boy Meets World or something.

00:20:38:08 – 00:20:55:24
Kyle Pearce
I don’t know what show it was, but I have that vision in mind and it’s like sometimes, even though you just said it’s not reality, it’s the story that a lot of parents may be telling themselves. Right? And then when I’m hearing you talk about the language, when we use that language, even though it’s fluent to us, right.

00:20:55:24 – 00:21:14:06
Kyle Pearce
So it’s just natural for us to call it what it is, which is finding the point of intersection or whatever. The thing is that we were doing. The problem with that is it almost suggests to the parent, like, now you take it and you run with it, right? So it’s like I am giving a next step and it’s they’re struggling with this concept.

00:21:14:06 – 00:21:33:00
Kyle Pearce
Now you go do it. And the parents going like, I don’t know how to do. We don’t actually have an actionable next step. So I think that’s a really wise thing to think about, especially in that initial conversation when there’s a struggle, is like, don’t necessarily get in the weeds right away. You might still need to get in the weeds at some point, right?

00:21:33:01 – 00:21:59:02
Kyle Pearce
Like at the end of the conversation, they say, Hey, listen, what specifically should we be working on and what should we be looking up on YouTube or what should we be talking to the afterschool tutor, whatever it is that they’re going to do as a solution that you’re working on together, it does make sense at some point to do that, but I really think that’s a great approach to avoid maybe raising the what is probably already a stressful situation for everyone.

00:21:59:02 – 00:22:21:17
Kyle Pearce
It’s stressful for the parent. Like you said, everyone’s coming into that conversation sort of expecting it to not be great, right? You’re like, Shoot, I need to talk to the teacher. And that’s not going to make anybody feel very well. So these are great suggestions here. I’m wondering, you know, if we think about it, we’ve talked about all kinds of do’s and don’ts on parent calls.

00:22:21:19 – 00:22:43:02
Kyle Pearce
I’m wondering, would you say is there like a rule of thumb that you use for yourself? And I know every scenario is different, but is there like a in a school year, you’re hoping to communicate every day? I love the idea of communicating early, but then this idea often it wouldn’t be so stressed to talk to the teacher if it wasn’t always bad news, right?

00:22:43:03 – 00:22:59:24
Kyle Pearce
I wonder if I made it sort of a goal to connect with. I always used to say like if I could connect with make it my goal to at least connect with three parents a week. Just to do a quick little update might be two minute call, just hey or leave a message. Or maybe it’s email. If that’s how they do it.

00:23:00:01 – 00:23:08:20
Kyle Pearce
Do you have any sort of like rules of thumb that maybe you live by when you’re teaching or you suggest any to other teachers? And what does that look like and sound like?

00:23:08:22 – 00:23:30:19
Crystal Frommert
Yeah, I mean, every student has something positive about them and something to celebrate. Every single student, there are a whole person and they might have humor, they might have artistic skills. There’s so many things beyond just math skills that a student brings with them to school. So you can really celebrate all of those things with the families because they bring all of that to your math class and I call those happy notes.

00:23:30:21 – 00:23:45:09
Crystal Frommert
And on my roster I check off every time I send an email or make a phone call. That’s a happy note as I do that this is selfish of me, but I do this sometimes. I’m having a bad day. I’ll send a few happy notes because I usually get really happy replies and it makes me feel better.

00:23:45:14 – 00:23:49:23
Kyle Pearce
It’s I like it. It’s a win win, right? It’s a.

00:23:49:23 – 00:24:09:10
Crystal Frommert
Win win. Yeah. My favorite one ever was I sent a note to a family. It was very short and sweet and just said, I just want to let you know that your child said the name, but your child explained a problem to the whole class and they did a beautiful job doing this. And we may not be the highest scoring kid in the closet.

00:24:09:10 – 00:24:27:09
Crystal Frommert
Does it matter? They did a really great thing that moment, right? And I told them, I told the student, I’m going to email your mom and dad and let them know that you explain this problem in class. And she said, Can you also add in there, they should take me for ice cream? And I said, Yes, I will.

00:24:27:11 – 00:24:36:11
Crystal Frommert
Yes. She also added, asked that you take her for ice cream and the mom wrote back for sure, we’re going to take her for ice cream. So everybody won with that.

00:24:36:13 – 00:24:41:11
Kyle Pearce
That’s awesome. Win, win, win as a third win in there for sure.

00:24:41:16 – 00:24:52:24
Jon Orr
You’re sure, Krystal? If there was one big message, one key message that you’d want educators listening to right now to take away from this conversation, what would that be?

00:24:53:01 – 00:25:25:23
Crystal Frommert
There are so many things I would say, See the whole child. I think in a secondary classroom we are focused on the history child, the math child, the English child, the writer child, the reader child. See the whole child see everything that they bring to your classroom, because that’s going to increase the equity and the belonging that you have in your classroom, and it’s going to increase the quality of communication that you have with families because they’re bringing their whole self home, they’re bringing their whole self to school, as we are, too.

00:25:26:04 – 00:25:37:17
Crystal Frommert
And let’s see that as educators, I think we can get so bogged down with labeling that child is poor in math or that child is struggling, but there’s so much more to them than that.

00:25:37:19 – 00:25:59:17
Kyle Pearce
Awesome. That’s fantastic. I get this vision of every student is brilliant and if we can give them that opportunity to kind of show that brilliance and emerge that and kind of help them to bring it out in regardless of the subject area, that’s so fantastic. And I think it really does start too with making sure that people know that you care about them.

00:25:59:17 – 00:26:26:21
Kyle Pearce
Right? And by reaching out to parents, communicating with parents not only tells the parent that you care, but it also tells the student that you care. Right, because you have their best interest in mind. So this has been a fantastic conversation. There. Krystal, do us a solid where can people find out? We know that you were with us at the virtual summit so Academy members can check out that replay inside the virtual summit from the 2023 virtual summit.

00:26:26:23 – 00:26:36:12
Kyle Pearce
However, for everybody else who’s looking to learn more about you, where can they connect with you and where can they learn more about your work, including your book?

00:26:36:14 – 00:26:58:00
Crystal Frommert
Yeah. Thank you. So they can find me on Twitter. And my handle is Mrs. Underscore framer art. That’s fr0mmert. You can also find me under Krystal Frommer on LinkedIn, and I also have a website, Krystal from Tor.com. There’s not that many from her. It’s in the United States, so it’s pretty easy to find online.

00:26:58:02 – 00:27:04:20
Jon Orr
I love it. Krystal, thanks so much for joining us and we look forward to meeting up with you sometime in the future.

00:27:04:20 – 00:27:08:00
Crystal Frommert
Yay! Thank you for the opportunity. This is so fun.

00:27:08:02 – 00:27:10:19
Kyle Pearce
Awesome, awesome Chat with you soon, my friend.

00:27:10:21 – 00:27:13:02
Crystal Frommert
All right, Thanks. Take care.

00:27:13:04 – 00:27:37:20
Kyle Pearce
All right there, Mouth mommy makers. I hope you enjoyed the conversation we had with Krystal. Some tips, tons of great takeaways. One, it’s a great reminder and I often remind educators, it’s like early in the school year. Right? Right. Whenever you can. I know. So busy. You’ve been working on getting your classroom ready and your resources going in, your long range plan happening and all these things are going on.

00:27:37:22 – 00:28:06:20
Kyle Pearce
Let’s not forget about building those relationships, not only with our students, right? We do that in the early weeks of school, but also taking the initiative, taking the steps to let parents know who you are and the fact that you have their child’s best interest in mind. It’s such a great way to be proactive instead of being reactive and it’s the reactive part that usually is the part that feels nerve wracking, right?

00:28:06:21 – 00:28:32:04
Kyle Pearce
You’re like, I have to come to this person that I haven’t had a conversation with necessarily, and it’s like the unknown. So what I relate this conversation is particular. That part of the conversation is building the trunk of our math program. We talk about the trunk in a classroom setting as being the pillars. It’s about the culture, the classroom culture at a district level.

00:28:32:09 – 00:28:41:22
Kyle Pearce
It’s about building the leadership of your team, right? And in both cases, having that homeschool connection is such an important piece of building that culture.

00:28:41:22 – 00:28:42:12
Jon Orr

00:28:42:14 – 00:29:07:03
Kyle Pearce
Those pillars so that there is strength there, so that people look and they go, You know what? I’m confident that if this teacher does call me in regards to something, whether it’s a positive thing or whether it’s something that needs work or we have to work towards, I can feel that it’s coming from a place of care, a place of concern, and we can do something productive with that.

00:29:07:08 – 00:29:14:11
Kyle Pearce
John What other parts of the tree sort of jumped out at you as you had that conversation? As we reflect on it now, Crystal.

00:29:14:11 – 00:29:34:14
Jon Orr
Mentioned about those conversations coming at it from a growth mindset and that is directly related to the soil and the water and the subtlety. We have to have those mindsets and beliefs because if we shine those down on the leaves of our tree, the trunk of our tree, the roots of our tree, it changes, makes that tree grow.

00:29:34:14 – 00:29:51:24
Jon Orr
And so she talked about that attitude in that belief system that we have to have about every student can shine in some way. And I think that goes a long way to think about how to make your tree grow, how to make that culture grow. So it’s like you need the soil where sunlight tells so that you can make that trunk strong.

00:29:51:24 – 00:30:14:04
Jon Orr
So that’s what reminds me of the tree in the conversation. And it helps grow your tree if you also are kind of going like, Hey, you know, this is the first time I’ve listened to the podcast, guys, what are you talking about? About this tree? We encourage you to head on over to make math moments dot com forward slash report and then there is an assessment there, a seven minute assessments, got some questions.

00:30:14:04 – 00:30:32:13
Jon Orr
And basically from that assessment, I’m going to ask you questions about your classroom and your classroom experience, what you’re doing with your students. And it’s going to shed some light on six key areas of your classroom and then give you a suggestion on which of those six areas that you can start making some improvements on to grow. That part in.

00:30:32:13 – 00:30:44:11
Jon Orr
Each of those six areas correspond to areas of a tree, and you learn about that during that process as well. So head on over to make mathematics composition report and you’ll get your free report. You fill out that assessment.

00:30:44:13 – 00:31:06:15
Kyle Pearce
I love it, I love it. And friends, listen, this podcast also needs sun, soil and water to continue growing again. I’m just full of all of these wonderful, wonderful puns. But no, it’s true. Your rating and review will help send more listeners, more folks just like you. If you’ve made it to this part in the episode, that means you stuck around.

00:31:06:15 – 00:31:25:17
Kyle Pearce
It means you felt that there was some value here. And let’s be honest, if you’ve listened to more than one episode, that means that you’ve found that there’s value. From listening to this show on a regular basis. Help more people find the show by just taking just about 60 seconds to hit the pause button. Heck, you don’t even have to hit the pause button.

00:31:25:17 – 00:31:46:24
Kyle Pearce
You just pull that phone out. Leave yourself a rating and review or leave us a rating and review that helps the algorithm to know we should be sharing this with more people just like you. Those math teachers, those teachers who care about doing better in their math classrooms. So do us that huge favor and we so appreciate the support.

00:31:47:01 – 00:31:52:22
Kyle Pearce
Well, there my man’s mom and make her friends. Until next time, I’m Kyle Pierce.

00:31:52:22 – 00:31:53:19
Jon Orr
And I’m John.

00:31:53:19 – 00:32:13:07
Kyle Pearce
Or high fives for us a red woo High five for you. Oh, baby.

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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.