Episode #283: Guided Independence For Math PD: How Much Hand Holding Is Too Much When Providing Support In Math Classes?

Apr 29, 2024 | Podcast | 0 comments



Episode Summary:


Are you struggling to find the perfect balance between knowing what is enough guidance and structure you need to effectively teach your grade level or course? If you’re a district leader of math programming and struggling to figure out this same balance? 

How much is too much hand-holding? 

For math educators, coaches, and administrators, the challenge often lies in equipping teachers with the right tools without overshadowing their unique teaching styles while at the same time trying to create “buy-in” with what is effective. 

This episode delves into this common dilemma, offering insights and strategies for those in educational leadership roles. It’s tailored to help you empower teachers while ensuring that they remain motivated and innovative in their approach to teaching math.

Tune in to gain valuable insights into striking the right balance in supporting math teachers, and take the first step towards transforming the way you approach teacher development in your institution!

What You’ll Learn:

  • Learn how to provide effective guidance without stifling teachers’ creativity, mirroring the journey from following a recipe to creating one’s own culinary masterpieces.
  • Understand how to tailor support to meet each teacher’s individual needs, acknowledging that their professional development journey is as unique as their teaching style.
  • Discover the essential elements that should be included in teaching resources to foster teacher growth, confidence, and the ability to make independent pedagogical decisions.


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


Episode Summary:

Balancing Support, Autonomy and Revenue in Education

Kyle and Jon discussed strategies for dealing with liability, and empowering teachers. They also explored the balance between providing guidance and allowing creativity in teaching. They agreed on the value of professional development for teachers and considered a 6-step plan to improve mathematics programs in schools. Lastly, they discussed the challenges of finding a balance between support and autonomy in teaching.

Balancing Structure and Creativity in Education

Kyle and Jon discussed the challenges of balancing structure and creativity in education. They recognized the need to provide teachers with detailed lesson plans while also encouraging independent thought and self-directed learning. They emphasized the importance of defining the appropriate level of structure and support, and the necessity of determining the amount of guidance required for each stage of the learning process. They also discussed the complexities of implementing a scope and sequence in education, emphasizing the need to respect educator autonomy while providing clear goals, resources, and opportunities for independent learning.

Educational Tools, Teacher Autonomy, and Meal Prep Services

Jon emphasized the significance of educational tools in math classrooms, insisting that they should not only support students but also strengthen teachers’ understanding of pedagogical shifts and content standards. He highlighted the role of the tool as a teaching aid and stressed the importance of teacher autonomy. Jon shared his positive experience with using meal prep services during the Covid-19 pandemic, relating this to the learning process in a classroom. Kyle agreed with Jon’s analogy and shared his initial struggles with cooking using the service, which Jon assured would not be the case with quality resources and a structured curriculum.

Supporting Educators in Curriculum Implementation

Kyle and Jon discussed the importance of supporting educators in implementing a new curriculum. Kyle emphasized the need for educators to understand the tools and techniques involved in the curriculum to ensure successful learning outcomes. They also highlighted the significance of district leaders setting clear objectives and a vision for their schools, to make informed decisions about curriculum and other tools. Lastly, they introduced a customizable assessment screener on their website and offered one-on-one consultations for leaders needing guidance in developing their objectives and vision.

Be Our Next Podcast Guest!

Join as an Interview Guest or on a Mentoring Moment Call

Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast

Apply to be a Featured Interview Guest

It will take less than two (2) minutes to book your Math Mentoring Moment call.

Book a Mentoring Moment Coaching Call

Take two (2) minutes to book your Math Mentoring Moment call and let’s work together to shake that math pebble out of your shoe!

Are You an Official Math Moment Maker?

Ensure that you followrate and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other platforms to show your support and ensure other math educators can find the show.
Start your school year off right by downloading the guide that you can save and print to share with colleagues during your next staff meeting, professional learning community meeting or just for your own reference!


00:00:00:12 – 00:00:32:22
Jon Orr
Are you struggling to find the perfect balance? I know I’m always after balance, but I find the perfect balance between knowing what is enough guidance and structure. You need to effectively teach your grade level or course. And if you’re a district leader of math programing and maybe you’re also struggling with the same balance question of how much structure support should we be giving our teachers in the classroom with the tradeoff being possibly limiting creativity and natural motivation.

00:00:32:24 – 00:01:07:08
Kyle Pearce
For math, educators, coaches and administrators, The challenge often lies in equipping teachers with the right tools without overshadowing their unique teaching styles, while at the same time trying to create buy in with what is effective. In this episode, we’re going to be diving into this common dilemma, offering insights and strategies for those in educational leadership roles. It’s tailored to help you empower teachers while ensuring that they remain motivated and innovative in their approach to teaching math.

00:01:07:10 – 00:01:44:02
Jon Orr
You’re tuned in to gain those valuable insights into striking the right balance in supporting your math teachers. And if you’re a math teacher, you’re also going to start reflecting on the right balance for you. So you can take this right first step towards transforming the way you approach professional development and strengthening the limbs of your classroom or leader tree.

00:01:44:04 – 00:01:48:09
Kyle Pearce
Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle Pearce.

00:01:48:09 – 00:01:51:09
Jon Orr
And I’m Jon Orr we are from makemathmoments.com.

00:01:51:11 – 00:02:01:10
Kyle Pearce
This is the only podcast that coaches you through a six step plan to grow your mathematics program, whether it’s at the classroom level or at the district level.

00:02:01:11 – 00:02:16:14
Jon Orr
And we do that by helping you cultivate and foster your mathematics program like strong, healthy and balanced treats. So if you master the six parts of an effective mathematics program, the impact that you’re going to have on your teachers, your students will grow and reach far and wide.

00:02:16:16 – 00:02:30:15
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.

00:02:30:17 – 00:02:55:14
Jon Orr
All right, Kyle. So in this episode, we’re going to talk about balance and balance and specifically, like how much hand-holding are we doing with the teachers were supporting in our classrooms. But also, if I’m a classroom teacher, I used to think about this all the time choose how much balance or structure do I really need to rely on in really to effectively teach my standards to my students so that they can reach those standards?

00:02:55:14 – 00:03:28:08
Jon Orr
And I think wit immediately comes to mind, and we hear this from some of the district partners we’ve supported in the early stages of that support questions around how much should I be putting in to my scope and sequence, like how detailed does that need to be so that I can provide the right support, but also make sure this is what leaders are often asking, is like, How do I make sure that the teachers are effectively changing their practice to being research based, effective teaching practices from NC Times Principles to action to aid effective teaching practice.

00:03:28:08 – 00:03:35:17
Jon Orr
We get a lot of leaders kind of going like we want to shift instructional practices that way. How much hand-holding do I really need to provide?

00:03:35:22 – 00:03:53:16
Kyle Pearce
I love it and I’m going to give a little bit of let the cat out of the bag. There’s going to be some hard work here as we dig into this episode, because the reality is, is that really when we’re working with different districts, what we often find or most often find is they’re extremes. We’re dealing with two different extremes.

00:03:53:16 – 00:04:16:20
Kyle Pearce
We have some districts coming where they’re giving like full autonomy to educators. And I’m like, I mean, I get it. I get why you want to give full autonomy. You want people to you trust your teachers. You trust that they have the right things in mind, the right intentions for their students. That’s amazing. It’s awesome. But on the other hand, it leaves them in a bit of a lurch, right where they don’t have necessarily, say, a starting point.

00:04:16:20 – 00:04:36:07
Kyle Pearce
And some of your teachers that have put in maybe a lot of time and effort into researching, in this particular case, mathematics, content, knowledge, pedagogy. They might be off to the races. They might just love the freedom that they have to put that program together. And it might be the challenge that they sort of look forward to each and every day.

00:04:36:09 – 00:04:59:05
Kyle Pearce
Whereas on the other hand, we have this other scenario where we have many districts that say, Do have a scope in sequence, for example. And what we often find in that particular case is that we get to the very far other end of the extreme where now it’s almost so scripted that like if you walked into this classroom over here, at least what’s supposed to happen, not necessarily that it is happening consistently.

00:04:59:05 – 00:05:20:17
Kyle Pearce
Right. Of course, some people fall off the will say they go off on their own regardless of what they are supposed to be doing, according to the district. But with that scripting, it’s like I’m supposed to be able to walk into any grade six classroom on this particular day of the year. And this particular lesson should be happening and things should be happening in a specific way.

00:05:20:17 – 00:05:38:18
Kyle Pearce
And what we’d like to discuss here is like which one is the right approach and how do we do it? Well, and I think the reality is, is that the biggest struggle we have and we’ve talked about it before on the podcast is we like as humans to be all in or all out on an idea.

00:05:38:20 – 00:05:44:08
Jon Orr
To swing from one side to the other. It’s like we’re doing the course or we’re doing this. There’s no in-between.

00:05:44:10 – 00:06:04:05
Kyle Pearce
Absolutely. It’s incredibly difficult for moderation, and that’s in all aspects of life, right? Like we can think about this outside of the math classroom, and the same is true here. And what makes it so difficult is because when you now look at it, instead of a on or off an all in or all out mode, now you have this massive continuum.

00:06:04:07 – 00:06:20:11
Kyle Pearce
Should I be closer to this side? Should I be closer to that side? Somewhere in the middle? We’d like to be. But where is that middle? What does that look like and sound like in order to have the most effective and ultimately achieve the goals that we’re after?

00:06:20:15 – 00:06:40:22
Jon Orr
Yeah, and let me kind of think about one side first. And I think when I think about providing too much hand-holding on that one side, it’s like, let’s make sure the scope and sequence is very detailed. You have scripts for teachers in classrooms. We’ve got this is the intentionality of the lesson. This is what you’re looking for. This is the day by day.

00:06:40:23 – 00:07:02:01
Jon Orr
What my head immediately goes sometimes is this idea of like, are we being hypocritical in a way, if I’m the district leader and going like, I have to make sure that this teacher has this scope and sequence very detailed from that, you know, maybe there’s a curriculum that we’re following and it has all of the moves that I want to make in the classroom provided.

00:07:02:03 – 00:07:32:02
Jon Orr
Are we being hypocritical by allowing our teachers to not think on their own? That’s where my head sometimes goes when I think about providing too much hand-holding because it says like, we’re going to assume and this is why it feels hypocritical, because in our classrooms we’re trying to get those teachers, those same teachers, to get their students to think, I don’t want to provide you the full do this, do this, do this to a student, because we want them to productively struggle.

00:07:32:02 – 00:07:47:18
Jon Orr
We want them to be engaged in thought. We want them to be thinking about a strategy before we step in. We’re going like, this might work. This might work here. Let’s tie these two things together, these three things together, and and let’s come out the other side with our intentionality and our learning goal and maybe our next steps.

00:07:47:19 – 00:08:07:08
Jon Orr
We want that in our classroom. That’s what the scripts are helping our teachers try to do in our classrooms most times, and by providing them the scope and sequence with that very detailed script, it’s almost that that’s where the hypocritical part I feel like sometimes pops up because it’s like, Well, we’re not allowing you to think about what’s best for your classroom.

00:08:07:10 – 00:08:26:05
Jon Orr
We’re wanting you to follow this prescribed set of lessons, and you’re like, We don’t want to give you the luxury or the option to do that thinking on your own. And so then it becomes like how much thinking is appropriate. But I completely see the other side. If I take that whole thing away, then it’s like, Well, now what do I rely on?

00:08:26:05 – 00:08:46:13
Jon Orr
Because structure is important to some degree and again, this brings us back to the middle is like, how much is enough? And I think that’s what we really want to answer here today is like, how much is enough? And I think what we need to say I’m curious where you lie on this hypocritical part, but it’s like, how much is enough?

00:08:46:15 – 00:09:08:01
Jon Orr
It probably depends. And I think you would say the same thing about your student of how much hand-holding does your student need in that lesson that day? And how much thought or thinking can you get in them at that time? And it’s almost like we want to think with a progression. This student needs this today, but my goal is to get them here.

00:09:08:01 – 00:09:26:14
Jon Orr
But my goal also is to get them to think along the way. The same thing can be true about our teachers or providing professional development support as I want them to get here. I have this objective and an idea in mind how much support and hand-holding is now, and I want to monitor that as we go so that I can get them to think eventually.

00:09:26:16 – 00:10:02:00
Kyle Pearce
Right? Right. And it’s interesting if you really think from I mean, we’ve had a lot of experience or many, many calls with individual educators over the years. Some of them have become mentoring moment episodes on the podcast and many district leaders. And we actually work with some districts across North America and beyond each and every year. So as we engage in this process, it’s funny because when you have, say, one side versus the other, so when you have this say, mandated scope and sequence, what you hear from educators is they want more autonomy, right?

00:10:02:00 – 00:10:12:17
Kyle Pearce
And then when you go all the way to the other side of the spectrum, what do you hear from educators? They say, well, I want something to help me essentially figure out, like, what should I be doing from day to day? Yeah, you.

00:10:12:17 – 00:10:15:00
Jon Orr
Need to provide me some sort of resource here.

00:10:15:00 – 00:10:32:09
Kyle Pearce
Right? Right. So it’s like it’s interesting because if you’re only listening to exactly how it’s being said, you might think, Oh, shoot, we should be telling them exactly what to teach or the opposite. We should be giving them full freedom. And the reality is, is somewhere in the middle is the place that I think we want to land.

00:10:32:09 – 00:10:59:13
Kyle Pearce
And I think when we think back to why we’re doing what we’re doing, we have to be very aware of what it is we’re trying to accomplish. So something that I think about when we put a scope and sequence into place is we’re trying to give, in my opinion, we want to give educators a starting point, right? You also might have the purpose of I remember during the COVID time, I don’t want to say that word.

00:10:59:13 – 00:11:26:16
Kyle Pearce
I feel like I don’t want to welcome that back in anyone’s thoughts. But during that time, a lot of districts were trying to think of like, how do we help manage the fact that there might be students maybe coming and going maybe from face to face environments and then they maybe get put into a virtual environment with a different educator and like, it makes sense that you would have sort of a scope and sequence as a starting point to try to keep people generally in a similar place.

00:11:26:16 – 00:11:57:21
Kyle Pearce
And if that’s the goal and if that’s the intention for that very specific purpose, you’ve got to be very specific about it and say like, listen, it’s actually not because we want to take away your autonomy, it’s that we want to try to ensure that students, regardless of they end up in Jon’s class for a while or Kyle’s class for a while, or any other grade six class across the district, that they’re not going to either get the same content because Jon covered that specific unit at the beginning of the year and this teacher’s now covering it now in the middle of the year.

00:11:57:23 – 00:12:19:11
Kyle Pearce
If that’s the purpose, be very clear about it. But then also describe like what are the opportunities for educators to continue thinking and where can you try to keep them thinking right? So it gives them a starting point. Once COVID was done in this particular example, I have, we started to really think about how do we get the teachers involved in this process?

00:12:19:11 – 00:12:39:14
Kyle Pearce
Because the reality was, is that we had to put that scope and sequence together as fast as we possibly could. And let’s be honest, it wasn’t the best one that we could have ever put together. We didn’t have the time, nor I would say even the knowledge, the expertise at that time to be able to move that quickly through every grade level and try to put it in a specific order.

00:12:39:16 – 00:13:00:00
Kyle Pearce
Now, we think about this from a curriculum perspective or maybe a publisher perspective. They’ve invested a lot of time and effort into why they’ve done what they’ve done. So do I understand what the publisher has done? Do I agree with everything the publisher’s done, or is there things that we can make and tweak to improve what that publisher has done?

00:13:00:00 – 00:13:22:03
Kyle Pearce
But ultimately, at the end of the day, what it really comes down to is what is our purpose and what is our goal and how confident are we if we’re going to put something like that into place in terms of what is the responsibility of the educator and why are we doing it, and then where is the opportunity for autonomy over here?

00:13:22:05 – 00:13:40:02
Kyle Pearce
And I would argue if I flip all the way to the other side and I say you have full autonomy, I need to then think about why am I giving full autonomy? Well, I want educators to know I believe in them. Amazing. But I also need to make sure that they feel supported. So do you feel that’s actually a good move?

00:13:40:02 – 00:14:06:15
Kyle Pearce
If I ask my educators, do you feel it’s a good move if we give you absolutely nothing as a starting point and you’ve got to all map it together now in some schools that might make sense, in others, it probably does. And I’m going to argue that having at least the resources and the tools available so that you can decide what is the goal for this, we’ll call it whether I’m going to be more organized.

00:14:06:15 – 00:14:28:24
Kyle Pearce
I don’t want to say forcing a scope and sequence on anyone, but if that is the case in a district like what is the purpose? Do we stand behind that scope and sequence? Like, here is why we did this scope and sequence. It’s because based on research, it makes sense that we do this, then this, then this and this, and we’re totally open to trying to improve it over time.

00:14:29:01 – 00:14:51:21
Kyle Pearce
Or did we pick a curriculum? And then we just said, Everybody do this right? And ultimately, I think for me, that’s where this discussion really needs to go. If we’re thinking about these things and we’re thinking about deciding what we want our educators to be doing, we have to be clear on why we’re doing it and what is their role and where does their autonomy lie?

00:14:52:02 – 00:15:12:05
Kyle Pearce
Because if we don’t say anything about that, they get to tell themselves whatever story they want either. I feel I’m not supported because I have no resources or on the other end, I feel like I have no freedom to think and therefore I’m going to potentially opt out of thinking because they told me I need to do X, Y, and Z.

00:15:12:05 – 00:15:13:16
Kyle Pearce
And I actually don’t know why.

00:15:13:20 – 00:15:41:04
Jon Orr
I really love this idea of the purpose. What is it that you’re really choosing this tool for? Because that’s all it is. A curriculum in your classrooms is a tool so that your students can grapple and strengthen the five strands of mathematical proficiency. It’s a tool for students to engage in the standards of math practice. It’s a tool to do these things, and it’s a tool to like, help students learn the content standards.

00:15:41:04 – 00:16:15:22
Jon Orr
It’s a tool to do these things. It’s also so a lot of times we choose it thinking about our students, but also think about how it supports your teachers because if the purpose is to just give them the tool to use in the classroom, that might help in one way. But maybe, maybe your objective is to help strengthen your teachers understanding of pedagogical shifts, maybe your purpose or your objective this year and your district’s math program is to strengthen the teachers understanding of their conceptual understanding of the content centers, their teaching, and what grade level reaching grade level looks like.

00:16:15:24 – 00:16:48:18
Jon Orr
Think of that purpose of the scope and sequence. Now, because if it’s viewed as a tool, think of it as a teaching tool. Like you said, Kyle, if we’re trying to think about how much script is too much and are we allowing for autonomy, if your goal is your purpose is to get teachers to think about their standards and what their teaching strategies look like to so that they can engage their students in those key moves, those key experiences that we want in our math classes, then that scope and sequence should be a tool to help your teachers get there.

00:16:48:21 – 00:17:15:08
Jon Orr
So it’s like it’s not like the thing that we need to focus on. It’s a tool to help them move to the right behaviors in the classroom and sometimes having that as a framework to start, like you said, something to start with, it can be really good teaching tool because I think what I view sometimes is like it’s a teaching tool to say what is like a good move and what works in classrooms because that can be what is prescribed.

00:17:15:09 – 00:17:36:12
Jon Orr
These are the things that if we put them together in this format, in this structure, this timing, we get at what we really want. And so having that available so that teachers can go, this is the structure of what works, can be really helpful for them to learn the different moves and the different things. But the goal is not for them to like always use it.

00:17:36:12 – 00:17:57:05
Jon Orr
The goal is for them to learn these things like this progression. Like you said, eventually you want autonomy, that it’s like I can now manipulate or I can pick and choose what’s going to work today based off knowing where my students are, what good practices are included. I don’t have to always rely on the scope and sequence or my curriculum resource because I know it’s good teaching and I know it’s good learning for students.

00:17:57:05 – 00:18:13:01
Jon Orr
I used to battle with this idea. Kyle I don’t know if I shared this with you is that during COVID, it was before COVID even I got one of those meal prep services. I was paying good food. I know you had good food for a while too, but there’s like hellofresh. There’s like Blue Apron, you know, there’s a bunch of these things, right?

00:18:13:01 – 00:18:30:12
Jon Orr
They’ll mail you the ingredients and they give you the recipe and they give you everything in front. All you have to do is follow the instructions. You make gourmet meal. And I was like, That’s amazing. I’m going to do this. And I don’t have to go grocery shopping and I don’t have to waste food because they give me exact portions.

00:18:30:14 – 00:18:33:15
Jon Orr
So I loved it. And what I realized in thinking.

00:18:33:15 – 00:18:36:02
Kyle Pearce
About I didn’t like that I didn’t have enough. I was like, maybe.

00:18:36:02 – 00:19:00:13
Jon Orr
I read too much. I always had to squeeze for meals for five people. So we always had to supplement a little bit. But what I realized and here’s an interesting this could be a hot take, this could be controversial. I don’t know. Is that what I realized? Those recipes, even though I was following them step by step, I wasn’t doing any thinking at the time, But what I was learning was how to be a better cook.

00:19:00:18 – 00:19:28:17
Jon Orr
I was learning what quality ingredients look like, how do I take this ingredient and put it together with this? Now, you could argue that I was thinking about that while I was cooking because that carried forward that I didn’t need the service anymore. And now what I realized after eliminating service, I don’t have the service anymore and I don’t even look at the recipe guides anymore because now I know that that ingredient goes here on this type of dish.

00:19:28:19 – 00:19:43:23
Jon Orr
This one’s going to go here. And I think what I really realized is I knew what quality ingredients look like. And I knew if I use these quality ingredients and put them in this way, in this way, in this way, I create a gourmet meal. But I had to learn that along the way. I had a framework to follow.

00:19:43:23 – 00:19:50:14
Jon Orr
Initially, but taught me what was the quality ingredients. So you can see where I’m going, right? Yeah.

00:19:50:14 – 00:19:51:14
Kyle Pearce
I love this.

00:19:51:17 – 00:20:04:09
Jon Orr
In our classroom. What? Because you could have a resource that does not have quality ingredients. You could have a recipe that’s like, now pull something out of a can of Campbell’s soup. I didn’t have that from this particular thing. Sorry, did not Campbell Soup.

00:20:04:09 – 00:20:07:12
Kyle Pearce
I was just going to say like, here comes the lawsuit. John’s I.

00:20:07:12 – 00:20:28:24
Jon Orr
Know. So what I’m saying is this goes back to the purpose is the purpose to help your teachers learn what’s quality and what pieces go together. Then roll with it. But keep that in mind because the progression is to get them through like a curriculum. You’re almost thinking about how do I teach my teachers what they need to know, and using this as the tool.

00:20:28:24 – 00:20:45:00
Kyle Pearce
I love it because it’s awesome too. I didn’t know we were going to go here, but I love the analogy and it’s like and then you look at now, mind you folks, just so you know, it wasn’t like John did whatever the food prep service we were doing, we used the same one. I remembered it. John was already cooking.

00:20:45:00 – 00:21:05:21
Kyle Pearce
He had experience cooking. You were in a good spot. I’m going to throw just this interesting wrench into things are a wrinkle into it is that we had the same prep service and there was great ingredients in there, and any time my wife asked me to do the dinner, I first of all, I felt extremely stressed. I was like, I don’t know, at a time any of this stuff, it was like, start this and start.

00:21:05:21 – 00:21:20:16
Kyle Pearce
I felt lost the whole time, even though it was very step by step. Now, again, I didn’t put any effort before or after. I just literally just opened the book and tried to do it and I ruined the number of those dinners. So even though there was good ingredients and I.

00:21:20:16 – 00:21:21:01
Jon Orr

00:21:21:03 – 00:21:42:12
Kyle Pearce
Knew now why I bring that up is not to say that everything you said is not correct. It’s just that this is why we are trying to suggest that you have to think about this process, because if I impose a curriculum, even a curriculum with great ingredients, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all my educators are going to learn what we’re hoping they’ll learn along the way.

00:21:42:12 – 00:21:50:05
Kyle Pearce
Some educators are going to need different types of support. I’m that guy in the kitchen, right? Like, I haven’t spent enough time doing that work.

00:21:50:05 – 00:21:51:14
Jon Orr
You need another layer of support.

00:21:51:15 – 00:22:10:11
Kyle Pearce
Exactly. But meanwhile, on the other hand, if you leave me to my own devices, it’s like, wow, I mean, I’m going to go to my go to write, which think about in a math classroom. If you just leave me to my own devices and I don’t maybe have the experience that you have. John I mean, I might be able to make it work, but it’s probably not going to taste as good as your meal.

00:22:10:13 – 00:22:14:22
Kyle Pearce
So think about this from a math teachers perspective, right? You’re like, exactly. I’m going to.

00:22:14:22 – 00:22:15:15
Jon Orr
Abandon it now.

00:22:15:19 – 00:22:30:01
Kyle Pearce
Or I look at and I go, Holy smokes, that option where they gave me all these great ingredients and I had to do certain things that I wasn’t familiar and I had to even use some tools. I was like, What’s that thing? And I had to like Google the tool. Am I do we even have that thing? I don’t know.

00:22:30:01 – 00:22:55:14
Kyle Pearce
It was, I think, a spatula. No, I’m just kidding. But whatever it was, I’m trying to do some of these processes and I wasn’t actually at a level of adequacy with my own understanding of how to cook. And the same can be true with our educators. So we have to just really be intentional in thinking about that. There’s some educators that are going to thrive in either of those extremes, but there’s also going to be others that are going to sink, right?

00:22:55:14 – 00:23:15:14
Kyle Pearce
And they’re going to sink for different reasons. So how do we get somewhere in the middle and how can we work with our educators, with our team to build I’m going to call it the trunk of the tree as we sort of talk about some of the big ideas from this episode that I look at are six parts of an effective math program and that this is a really important leadership move.

00:23:15:14 – 00:23:41:14
Kyle Pearce
So my big takeaway is that there isn’t an answer that is going to be the right answer for anyone except for somewhere in between. And I would argue that if we completely implement something, it’s like you better be able to stand behind it. If you’re saying that everybody on this day at this time is going to be doing X, Y, and Z, there’s better be a really important reason why we did it in that way.

00:23:41:16 – 00:24:00:14
Kyle Pearce
And we did it exactly this in this methodology. And if I can’t think about what that does to the trunk of our tree, right when we talk about the leadership of the tree, the health of the tree, you’re actually taking nutrients from it. You’re taking and it’s going to affect other parts of the tree. It’s going to affect mindset and beliefs.

00:24:00:14 – 00:24:19:14
Kyle Pearce
Right. The soil, sunlight, water that’s going to have a negative impact. And over time, some of the other parts of the tree are going to start to lose some of that health. And if you look to the other side, you give them nothing. Then in some classrooms you’re going to have a vibrant tree. You’re going to have like a really great thing going on.

00:24:19:14 – 00:24:40:18
Kyle Pearce
But then in other classrooms, you’re going to be missing complete parts. Right? And we can’t have that. So we need to, as district leaders, whether you’re at a grade level or at a school level or at a district level, we need to be thinking about these things before we just go and implement something. Regardless on which end of the spectrum, you seem to maybe be leaning more towards.

00:24:40:21 – 00:25:05:03
Jon Orr
Right? And when you think about that leadership portion of the tree, that’s the trunk of the tree. This comes back to the purpose, right? Like, what are your objectives? What are you hoping to achieve this year? Are your goals, What are the things that you’re really striving to make important at your district, your case, your vision? What is essential here at our school district, and making sure that because when you set that, when you set your vision, when you set your objectives, it creates a filter.

00:25:05:05 – 00:25:26:11
Jon Orr
That filter is for everything. It’s for the scope and sequences for the curriculum that you’re choosing. It’s for what you’re providing. Are you going to bring in someone for a guest speaker? He provides that. And when a teacher knows that as a classroom teacher, when you hear about what the vision is and what the objectives are, it helps you frame your choices as well around what support you need and what your classrooms can look like.

00:25:26:11 – 00:25:43:24
Jon Orr
So thinking about that trunk of the tree setting that purpose and considering the purpose is really essential and we would encourage you this is the big take, I think, from today’s episode is that it is going to depend on who you’re working with on a regular basis. You don’t want to do, okay, maybe a one size fits all.

00:25:43:24 – 00:26:05:03
Jon Orr
We want to encourage you to think, what is the purpose of the choice of the tool? Does it align with my objectives? Do I even have objectives this year? Does I district even have a vision? We need to think about these things because a vision of that alignment that we’re looking for help solve a lot of problems in classrooms and at the district level.

00:26:05:05 – 00:26:26:15
Kyle Pearce
And I guess just to add on there is that with all the district leaders that we’ve worked with, either formally or informally and just folks that hop on calls for a next step, that’s something that we offer anyone who is interested to offer that next step in the journey. We’ve never come across a district who was on either end of the spectrum, and they had it figured out.

00:26:26:17 – 00:26:45:24
Kyle Pearce
So I guess really the big takeaway I want people to walk away with is this idea that, like, that’s not going to quote unquote fix it, All right? Like if we’re just like, if we just had a scope and sequence and everybody followed it, or if we just gave way open autonomy to do whatever you want, they would figure either option is not going to be the fix.

00:26:45:24 – 00:27:05:24
Kyle Pearce
There is so much more to this process. And again, that allows you to be somewhere in there. We have to be thinking about this like we don’t want to just write off resources in curriculum, the leaves of our tree. We want to make sure that we’re supporting our educators and we’re meeting them where they are, just like we’re asking our educators to do with our students.

00:27:06:01 – 00:27:32:17
Kyle Pearce
We need to be doing the same thing when we’re thinking about our district and school programs. So, friends, if you haven’t yet head on over to make math moments dot com forward slash report and you can take your customized classroom or district slash organization assessment screener which will ask you some questions. Some of them are kind of deep and some of them might make you think and go, huh, I’m not sure about this one.

00:27:32:19 – 00:28:06:18
Kyle Pearce
That’s the goal here is we want to reveal some parts, important parts of this process that we need to at least be considering. If we want to gain traction in this work, we can do this at the classroom level and at the school district, organizational level. And we have that report ready to go if you head on over to make math moments dot com forward slash report, you’ll take your customized assessment screener for yourself based on your role and out comes out through the other side even though I think you’ll learn something even just in answering the questions that we ask.

00:28:06:24 – 00:28:17:07
Kyle Pearce
But also you will receive a report back to your email address with some ideas around your next step that you can consider in your very specific math role.

00:28:17:09 – 00:28:45:09
Jon Orr
And if you already know that you’re looking for a little bit more hand-holding yourself, informing what your objectives are, what your vision could look like, we would be glad to hop on a call with you and kind of unpack the unique constraints that your district is under and unique situation. We do that with all of the districts that we talked with on a regular basis and we can unpack what your next step will be and what you could look like for the following school year for PD planning.

00:28:45:09 – 00:28:56:08
Jon Orr
So head on over to make Mathpuzzle.com forward slash district to learn about what that could look like. And there’s a link there to book a call with us and we’ll be chatting about your action plans real soon.

00:28:56:10 – 00:29:01:11
Kyle Pearce
All right. Their math moment makers. Until next time. I’m Kyle Pearce.

00:29:01:11 – 00:29:02:13
Jon Orr
And I’m Jon Orr.

00:29:02:13 – 00:29:03:14
Kyle Pearce
High fives for.

00:29:03:14 – 00:29:08:13
Jon Orr
Us. And a high bar for you. Oh.

Your Customized Improvement Plan For Your Math Classroom.
Take the 12 minute assessment and you'll get a free, customized plan to shape and grow the 6 parts of any strong mathematics classroom program.
Take The Free Assessment
District leader/math coach? Take the District Assessment

Thanks For Listening

To help out the show:


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.