BAP109 Small Moves, Big Gaines with Author Nancy Motley

Our guest on the show today is the amazing Nancy Motley. Nancy is a former educator who has held many roles in education from elementary through high school.  She is now a Senior Consultant with Seidlitz Education where her role has her delivering powerful and relevant professional learning. She also supports teachers in their environments with coaching and mentoring.  Nancy is with us today because another part of her role is to write and develop new products.  Her newest book, Small Moves, Big Gains is now available and she is here to share tips from it.
Make sure to tune in because she shares some of the content from the book for free in this interview.

You can listen to the show on your favorite podcast app or right here:
Listen to “BAP109 Small Moves, Big Gains with Author Nancy Motley” on Spreaker.

Or you may prefer to watch the show on YouTube or right here:

There has never been a better time for a resource like this.  I was fortunate enough to attend an all-day conference with Nancy where she shared many of the easy-to-implement strategies along with the research and specific steps to cultivating these into habits. Everyone loved how “do-able” the strategies are.  Not only are they things we can actually manage to do easily,  they also offer big gains in terms of getting kids to talk more, think more, and achieve more. (hence the subtitle of the book!)

What are Small Moves?

In the show, Nancy talks about what she has learned in her many years as an instructional coach.  Like many of you, I am a  lifelong learner and I always want to improve my craft.  But Nancy makes some great points about why we might have difficulty making big changes.  There is a lot on a teacher’s plate, there are things that are not in our control, and so on.  This is exactly why this resource is so powerful.  Nancy highlights the research of habit-formation and suggests that we work on building small habits that lead to big gains.

She shares two specific small moves in the show that we can use right away.

Nancy also shares her criteria for one of these “small moves.”  For a move to make it into the book, it must be:

  1. Work for ALL learners (MLL, Gifted, Bored, Over-Achiever, etc..)
  2. Work in ALL contexts (PreK-Calculus and all content areas)
  3. Actionable
  4. Requires little to no prep
  5. Able to be implemented in 2 min or less

The show really offers some great insight into how changing a few habits can have a profound effect on our pedagogy.  It is easy to see that once we are doing some things with automaticity, it would be easier to take things to the next level with more habits.

She even shares a few ways to make habits stick when you are cultivating them.

My Take-Aways

I had so many learning moments in this conversation.  One of my biggest takeaways is that I need to focus on what I am already doing and think about how I can stack a habit on top of that.  The more I use this resource, the more I can see just how much I am over-complicating things.  I am definitely making some things harder than they need to be. Since this interview, I have tried a few small moves that she suggested in my professional learning workshops and I am super happy with the results.  It is really bringing me so much clarity on how to continue to improve.  I’m excited about trying more small moves now that I’m thinking differently about my habits.

Where can you get your copy?

You can get your copy of Small Moves, Big Gains on Amazon or on the Seidlitz Education website. 

Just check out the hashtag #SmallMoves to see a lot of buzz about this resource!  Like she says in the show, we absolutely need drastic change and major shifts sometimes.  But she is right, there are “no drastic shifts that happen outside of small deliberative moves toward that goal.”  So the greatest gift we can give to teachers is a do-able way to automate some moves that get us to a place of big gains.

Learn with Nancy

If you are able to learn with Nancy in Dallas, Texas on Sept. 30, 2022, be sure to sign up for that open workshop.   You get to spend the whole day learning from Nancy and a copy of the book is included in the registration.  The link to get more information and register is right here.

You can also reach out to Nancy to bring her to your district.  Many education leaders are booking the “Small Moves, Big Gains Training” where Nancy comes to your district in person or virtually to train teachers on the concept and the moves.  I highly recommend this for any district.  It is exactly what teachers need right now.

You can reach out to her at

You can also follow her on Twitter here:  @NancyMotleyTRTW


At the end of the show, I also mention where we can connect in the near future.

Fall 2022 brings these two opportunities that are open to anyone.  I will be a keynote at the TEXTESOL conference this year along with Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld, John Seidlitz, and Dr. Stephen Krashen.

I also have a full-day pre-conference on Rapid Literacy for Older Emergent Readers on Oct 13th, just prior to the TABE conference.  Both are in Houston Texas.

Or feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to bring newcomer training to your district.  You can email me at or find me on Twitter or Facebook. 

Thank you for listening to this show.  I am excited to share ANOTHER place you can learn from Nancy.  She is one of the featured speakers for this year’s ML Summit happening on July 9th.  Even if you hear this show after the 9th, that talk will still be available on this website:

So another big thanks to Nancy for all she shares with us!

And as always, a BIG thanks to YOU for doing this self-directed learning today.

I’m sending you positive vibes.

Take good care,

<3, Carol