Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris

Ep 65: Creating Shared Experiences

September 14, 2021 Pam Harris Episode 65
Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris
Ep 65: Creating Shared Experiences
Chapters
Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris
Ep 65: Creating Shared Experiences
Sep 14, 2021 Episode 65
Pam Harris

How can we best grow as teachers? Together of course! In this episode Pam and Kim discuss the power of teachers honing their craft together. Leaders and coaches will find this episode particularly helpful.
Talking Points

  • Where do useful shared experiences come from?
  • How leaders and teachers can benefit from shared experiences.
  • Introducing JourneyLEADER

You can learn more about our exciting new experience for leaders at mathisfigureoutable.com/leader

Show Notes Transcript

How can we best grow as teachers? Together of course! In this episode Pam and Kim discuss the power of teachers honing their craft together. Leaders and coaches will find this episode particularly helpful.
Talking Points

  • Where do useful shared experiences come from?
  • How leaders and teachers can benefit from shared experiences.
  • Introducing JourneyLEADER

You can learn more about our exciting new experience for leaders at mathisfigureoutable.com/leader

Pam Harris:

Hey fellow mathematicians. Welcome to the podcast where math is Figure-Out-Able. I'm Pam.

Kim Montague:

And I'm Kim.

Pam Harris:

And we make the case that mathematizing is not about mimicking steps or rote memorizing facts, but it's about thinkingand reasoning. It's about creating and using mental relationships. We take the strong stance that not only are algorithms not particularly helpful in teaching, but that mimicking algorithms actually keep students from being the mathematicians they can be. We answer the question, if not algorithms and step by step procedures, then what?

Kim Montague:

We recognize that we have a lot of leaders and instructional coaches who like to listen to the podcast.

Pam Harris:

Thank you!

Kim Montague:

Right, yeah, so and a lot of our episodes are specifically focused on either math or working with students in the classroom. And they seem like maybe a little bit more geared towards teachers. But today, we want to bring up an important idea that we think is relevant to both teachers and administration and coaches, as they work together in partnership.

Pam Harris:

Because that's the way to do it, right? So the math is important for leaders and administrators. But also, there's some additional things that we think are helpful for both groups. So Kim, you and I have worked together for a long time. I totally still think you're like 28.

Kim Montague:

Not even close.

Pam Harris:

Oh it's close, close anyway. Okay. So it's been, it's been a minute. And we've done a lot of teaching kids together. And a lot of teaching teachers. Today, you can probably tell listeners that sometimes we talk over each other, sometimes we finish each other sentences. That's not only because we have some shared beliefs about teaching and learning mathematics, and about teaching kids as human beings and positioning all kids and students as sense makers, but it also has to do with the fact that we have a lot of shared experiences/ Right. Now, because we've done a lot together, we

Kim Montague:

Right. can refer to those shared experiences. And in specific, we can refer to expert teacher moves. And when we do, we both know what we're referring to, what we mean, when we say like, even short, like references to some expert teacher moves. Yeah, yeah, for sure. So for example, I'm thinking about a time where you sent me to a district who wanted some in person coaching. And we did that for a little while, right. We started the work there with leaders in the district taking me around, and observing and talking with the teachers about what they wanted to work on when we work together. So I remember taking some notes while I was in their classrooms, and then I came back and chatted with you about what I saw, and what kind of help that we could offer.

Pam Harris:

That is what you are a master at. Like, that was the thing that Kim is- I mean, she's good at, like all the things, but one of the things that I had never seen anybody do, like Kim does, is diagnose. And I don't mean like you're sick. I mean like formatively assess where someone is on the landscape of mathematics learning or where they are in the landscape of teacher learning. And the way you do it is so unique and cool. Anyway, okay. I just had to say, I've learned so much from you about that.

Kim Montague:

Thanks. So what I find interesting is that when I would come back, right, and you and I would debrief a little bit about the things that I saw, I can say things like, Oh, they had fantastic signaling or great wait time, and you knew exactly what I meant, and what that would have looked like in the classroom. Right? You could envision what it meant to have those great teacher moves, because you knew what I was saying.

Pam Harris:

Yeah, I mean, you could even be really cryptic. And say things like, oh, the look. The look in this way was and I'd be like, oh, and you'd be like, you know, the curiosity like, yeah, but the the overall - I mean, we have these like code words, because we had these common experiences, right?

Kim Montague:

But for those teachers, right, when I would take some notes for those teachers, I couldn't say those same things to them. And because they didn't have that shared experience with me, and they didn't know that they weren't doing those things - it wasn't because they didn't want to it's because they didn't even know it was a thing.

Pam Harris:

Yeah, for sure. Like a lot of things that you and I have gotten better at with our teaching and leading, we've added things to our repertoire. We've done things that we only could do once we knew they were a thing, right. And it wouldn't have been helpful in that moment to

Kim Montague:

For sure. say to them, hey, do this to improve your practice. Do these things. One, they wouldn't have known what this is right? We needed to find a way to help them know what this was with that code word that you and I could kind of pass back and forth quickly because we'd experienced that and we knew what it meant. They need to know what that was. But they also needed to be able to feel it in such a way that they could begin to do those things. It wasn't just like a definition of something, they had to see it in action and really understand what was happening. So one of the things that we both find noteworthy is how often we reflect on certain moments. Like we keep referring to certain instances, expert teacher moves that really inform our teaching, and also our coaching. And sometimes we'll even refer to them by the name of the expert. So let me give you an example. Do you remember when we went to the RME conference, and we had met Kara M before, kind of socially, it was it was sort of random how we kind of - Oh yah, at dinner!

Pam Harris:

Do you remember that? Yah, dinner, because we were at Kara's, and Kara's husband knew... Anyway, it was like this whole - or sorry, we were at Hannah's and Hannah's husband - and it was this whole, like, convoluted. And we got together and we knew of Kara because she had written some amazing things. Anyway, all the things so we sort of met her socially. But then we got to go to a session that she did later at a conference. And so we were kind of like, Hey, how's it going? You know, because we'd sort of known her socially, but then we get to see her actually facilitate with teachers. And the two of us were so excited, right? Like, not just because we knew her socially and thought she was super cool. But in that session, we kept finding each other across the room like, oh that! Like, there are these things that she did that were so so good. I remember a couple specifically. One of them was, somebody had said something in the middle of a problem string. And Carra kind of leaned in. And she said, You seem like that feels really important. How could you convince us of that? Oh, just the way she did that, like several parts of that. The fact that she sort of leaned in the fact that she kind of said it kind of quietly, the whole class like sort of all like sucked in and kind of listened really carefully. And then she's like, you seem like that feels really important. So she's like saying, what you think and feel matter here. Like that seems really important to you. And then the idea of how could you convince us? Oh, it like, feels so natural, as a way of saying, like, let us hear what you're thinking about. We want to understand what you're thinking. And and then not just like repeat what you're thinking. But how could you convince us then sort of puts a little bit of, not pressure, but a little bit of like, give us your... help me Kim? I'm trying to say convinced us in a different way. What di you say?

Kim Montague:

It gives them a little bit of ownership to their idea and like a little bit of a responsibility to help us know what they're thinking.

Pam Harris:

Bam, and that is so like, the idea of ownership and identity. And that person really feels like whoa, not only do I matter here, but my ideas matter and all of that. And then whether the idea is- I don't want to say correct or not... Valid? Yeah, like maybe even as the person describes their thinking, then it's totally okay to refine it, and maybe even pivot as they discuss and we all discuss, we all get better at the thinking. It was amazing. I was so onto that I was like I'm doing that. That one. I'm picking that one up. And then also a particular thing that I remember she did that day was talking about micro contexts. I think she is particularly good about helping us all think about when we write problem strings, could we create a micro context that would help students reason through, not just memorize not just see patterns, but also reason through using the context. And so those are some really specific moves that you and I both were like, Oh, yes, we're taking those, we're using those. So you and I find ourselves reflecting on and using these expert moments a lot. In our teaching and our writing and our facilitating with leaders. So Kim, that reminds me of something that you did as a coach.

Kim Montague:

Right. So we recognize how important it is to have these shared experiences as we've kind of grown together. And as a coach, right, you have the benefit of getting outside of the walls of a single classroom. And because of that, I had the opportunity to see all kinds of different teachers and how they were continually improving their craft. And so when someone would talk with me about wanting help in a particular area or some specific part of their classroom, I had the benefit of knowing who on their campus would serve as a great model of that particular thing. And so, sometimes it takes some scheduling, but I would go in with that teacher who wanted to grow and we would observe together, the teacher who kind of excelled in that particular area. And I will be honest with you, Pam it took me some time to learn this. That I couldn't just watch that teacher who wanted to grow in an area, I couldn't just watch their classroom and send them off to watch alone. And as much as I wanted to be helpful, I finally realized that that wasn't the most important thing. Like, let me sit your classroom and you go watch them.

Pam Harris:

Okay, I just wanted to clarify. So you're saying that that in the beginning, you actually thought I'll just take care of your kids.

Kim Montague:

Sure.

Pam Harris:

While you go watch that teacher do that thing. And and now you got it. You saw it happen, bam. Instantly you've achieved that thing. Tell me more. So what was it about you and the teacher doing it together that made the difference? Well, so I think it's really interesting, because sometimes, again, people don't not do something because they go, Oh, I just, I want to be "less than" in that area. I mean, it's a thing but I kind of just don't want to do that. I refuse. That would take too much energy. I can see it's better, but nah.

Kim Montague:

That's not what's happening with teachers. So it took me a moment to realize, Oh, so I need to be alongside them. And we need to have some conversation. So like sitting in the back of the room, and pinpointing certain moments where those small things are happening that make the big difference.

Pam Harris:

Like calling out those small moments.

Kim Montague:

Yes.

Pam Harris:

Making them a thing, putting some words around it, having that shared conversation around it helps sort of solidify and create that move as a thing.

Kim Montague:

Yeah. And so then once we've had this shared experience, we could we could watch together, we could whisper together, we could pinpoint different things, we could take notes and confer and then we could go back. And because we had this shared experience, we could make a plan, we could talk about how we were going to implement into that classroom, the things that we saw together, there's no discussion to be had if I just sent them off alone. Right.

Pam Harris:

And having that shared conversation reminds me of what we've talked about where we all know, we can do more than we can say clearly, and we can talk about more than we can represent clearer. And even sometimes we see things and we have some ideas in our head. But talking about it and that shared conversation and putting words to it and descriptions to it and having the conversation and in creating that shared meaning makes it more of a thing. Now it's a thing we could talk about. Now it becomes those keywords and code words and quick descriptions, that then you can say, Okay, so now that we know it... well, it probably doesn't become that that soon. But it starts to gel right? It starts to gel into a thing that now you can make the plan, like you said, to actually have it happen. And then when the teacher gives it a go, you can go Oh, now I see what you heard, not what I meant. Like, let's talk about that. And now it gives you a chance to sort of go back and forth and continue to build and all the things. But the part we want to emphasize today is that there's this part of shared experience. That we need to have a shared experience that we then put descriptions around that we can talk about. So we can refer to a shared experience. I cannot tell you how many times I listened to a keynote, I listened to an expert, I read something and I think to myself, Oh, that's wonderful. Yes, yes, yes. And then the rubber hits the road and I see the math, I see the example. And I go Oh, not that. No, no. Because words can have lots of meanings. And even descriptions can have lots of meanings. And because we come with different experiences, we could read the same thing, hear the same thing, and completely talk past each other.

Kim Montague:

Right.

Pam Harris:

And one of the things that we're trying to do in this podcast, Kim, is give all of our listeners and the world really, some shared experiences around some vocabulary, and the math. Like I feel like it's one of the things we're trying to do in this podcast is do math and not just talk about it. So that as we talk about it and do the math, we have these shared experiences that we actually know what each other are talking about. So we would encourage - it's one of the reasons why when I say number talk, like then we describe and do some math so that everybody knows what we mean. Because there's so many different ideas about just even that one kind of thing. All right, so y'all consider when you're helping teachers and colleagues, be in it with them, so that you can refer to that shared experience.

Kim Montague:

Yeah. So we have three things for you to consider to help create these shared experiences. One, get into each other's rooms, so that you can have a common experience. Even if you don't have a coach on your campus, right. You teachers, you're listening and you're like great, I don't have a coach to do that with me or my coach is doing something else. You can work to get into your friends' classroom, your partner teachers classroom, at least then right you have a shared experience that you and that teacher can work together. But even better, two, coaches if you are listening, take a teacher into a room together, discuss what you see and create some shared time that you can refer back to.

Pam Harris:

And three, we've created a system to help us all do this with each other all around the world. We can do this shared experience together a) in this podcast, but also, in our support system we call journey. We release videos of expert teachers and facilitators and discuss the high leverage teacher moves, we call them out, we name them and describe them and they become then a discussable shared experience. Not just a heard one, but also a viewed one because you're actually watching video. And for leaders, we're announcing what we call JourneyLEADER, where we are providing leaders with helps like this as they lead teachers to more and more Figure-Out-Able math. That is debuting this fall 2021. We are so excited about it. We think this is an amazing addition to our cadre of things that we offer to help us all teach more and more math that is Figure-Out-Able. So check out the mathisfigureoutable/leader section. So if you go to mathisfigureoutable.com/leader. We'll put that link in the show notes. You can get more information about JourneyLEADER so we can help all leaders on their journey to make more math more and more Figure-Out-Able for them for their teachers. And then of course for teachers' students. We are really excited to provide our teacher colleagues with more. So if you want to learn more mathematics and refine your math teaching so that you and students are mathematizing more and more, then join the math is figure-out-able movement and help us spread the word that math is figure-out-able!