Two Components Necessary For Coaching Math Teachers

As math teachers, we are constantly navigating the challenges of engaging students, enhancing their understanding, and fostering a love for mathematics.

Not to mention, as math teachers, we also have to navigate:

Report cards.
Supervision schedules.
Attendance procedures.
Checking emails. 
Following new initiatives. 
Lesson planning
Designing our own curriculum. 
Parent meetings.
Research new teaching methods. 
Attending staff meetings.
Attending PLCs. 

And there is more, …. every…. day.

No wonder when our math coach, math coordinator, or curriculum consultant shows up in our classroom we feel like crying and feel overwhelmed.

“Here we go, what else can I add to my plate?”

If our administrators, coaches, consultants, superintendents, or directors expect us to change our teaching practice then they have to realize that every interaction we have with them should make us feel like they are removing things from our plate instead of adding them.

While removing tasks and responsibilities is not always an option, our leaders need to frame the support they offer as always removing a “pebble in our shoe”.

Just as ALL our students want to succeed in our classrooms, we teachers ALL want to improve our craft. We just need to feel like it is worth the messy and uncomfortable change.

Most mathematics teachers don’t make the effort to change because for them, they haven’t been convinced it’s worth it….yet.

Two Components Needed To Support Teachers.

Relational Trust
Psychological Ownership

Head here to continue reading how we teachers can ensure we get these two important components.

How To Build Relational Trust with Math Teachers

Trust is the cornerstone of any mentoring relationship. We need our coach or leader to listen actively, understand our teaching styles, and respect our individual strengths and challenges. Trust is built over time through consistent, open communication and by showing a genuine interest in our professional growth.

In episode 204 of the Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast we spoke with author of the work Mentoring For All Jim Strachan. His work on trust has been instrumental on mentorship programs here in Ontario.

Here are three important factors we need when building trust with our coaches and mentors.

Effective Listening and Goal Setting

An impactful leader is one who listens more than they speak. By listening to our experiences and concerns, leaders can provide tailored support that aligns with our specific needs. Furthermore, we appreciate when leaders engage with us in goal-setting conversations. These discussions should be a collaborative effort, focusing on achievable objectives that drive our development as math teachers.

Non-Verbal Communication: A Silent Guide

Non-verbal cues often speak volumes. Teachers value leaders who are aware of their body language and the messages they send through their actions. A supportive nod, a thoughtful pause, or an encouraging smile can make a significant difference in how we perceive feedback and guidance.

The Role of Principals in Fostering a Mentoring Culture

Principals play a pivotal role in creating an environment conducive to effective mentoring. Teachers look forward to working in a school where continuous learning is encouraged, and where there’s a strong culture of mentorship. This involves not just one-on-one coaching, but also fostering a community where we, as math teachers, can share experiences, strategies, and challenges with each other.


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How To Build Psychological Ownership with Math Teachers

We know our subject is unique. The beauty of learning mathematics lies in its messiness and rigour. To convey this beauty, we must feel an intimate connection with our curriculum, our teaching methodologies, and our students’ learning process.

This is psychological ownership – a feeling that we are not just part of the system, but that we are shaping it with our knowledge, skills, and passion.

Teachers will move to make changes in their classroom for the betterment of students if they feel they have psychological ownership in their work.

Control: The Foundation of Our Empowerment

Control over our teaching environment is paramount. We must advocate for the autonomy to choose our teaching materials, to design our assessment methods, and to pace our curriculum. This control allows us to tailor our teaching to the unique needs of our students, fostering a more effective and engaging learning experience.

Intimate Knowledge: Our Secret Weapon

As math teachers, we need to be on the “ground floor” of educational developments. This means not just understanding the curriculum, but shaping it with the latest research and innovations in math education. Teachers should have a role in shaping the direction of the professional development that they take part in. Teachers should be included in discussions of any mission statements or vision planning for future of mathematics learning in their schools and districts. Our intimate knowledge of the subject and our students’ needs empowers us to make informed, impactful decisions. With this level of ownership teachers feel invested in change.

Time and Effort: The Seeds of Lasting Change

Investing time and effort in our initiatives is not just a commitment but a cultivation of our teaching practice.
When teachers dedicate time and effort to an initiative they need reassurance that the work they are doing is the right work and that it’s not wasteful.

New initiatives are implemented each year in mathematics classrooms and it’s hard for teachers to know which work is worth the time and effort. When leaders switch initiatives too often it tells educators that the last initiative was not that important. This often leads to teachers not being invested in the newest initiative since it’s likely that it too will be swapped for the new thing in the next year.

Leaders need to allow for skills, learning, and competence to develop over time. Show our teachers that each idea you bring them is worth the change.


The crux of our plea is for educational leaders – be it coaches, coordinators, or consultants – to approach their support role in a way that lightens our load, rather than adds to it. We stress the importance of two key components for effective support: Relational Trust and Psychological Ownership.

Relational Trust is fundamental, requiring leaders to actively listen, understand our unique teaching styles, and build trust through consistent, empathetic interaction. Psychological Ownership emphasizes our need for control and intimate involvement in our teaching practices and curriculum development. We call for consistency in initiatives and genuine involvement in shaping our professional growth.

By acknowledging and addressing these needs, educational leaders can significantly impact our willingness and ability to embrace change and improve our teaching practices, ultimately benefiting our students.

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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.

Use our OPEN ACCESS multi-day problem based units!