Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms (Paperback)

Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms By Tracy Johnston Zager Cover Image

Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms (Paperback)

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Ask mathematicians to describe mathematics and they'll use words like "playful", "beautiful", and "creative". Pose the same question to students and many will use words like "boring", "useless", and even "humiliating". In Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had, author Tracy Zager helps teachers close this gap by making math class more like mathematics. Zager has spent years working with highly skilled math teachers in a diverse range of settings and grades and has compiled those ideas from these vibrant classrooms into this game-changing book. Inside you'll find:
  • How to Teach Student-Centered Mathematics: Zager outlines a problem-solving approach to mathematics for elementary and middle school educators looking for new ways to inspire student learning
  • Big Ideas, Practical Application: This math book contains dozens of practical and accessible teaching techniques that focus on fundamental math concepts, including strategies that simulate connection of big ideas; rich tasks that encourage students to wonder, generalize, hypothesize, and persevere; and routines to teach students how to collaborate
  • Key Topics for Elementary and Middle School Teachers: Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had offers fresh perspectives on common challenges, from formative assessment to classroom management for elementary and middle school teachers

No matter what level of math class you teach, Zager will coach you along chapter by chapter. All teachers can move towards increasingly authentic and delightful mathematics teaching and learning. This important book helps develop instructional techniques that will make the math classes we teach so much better than the math classes we took.

Tracy happily taught fourth grade in a public school near Seattle for several years. When her family moved to New England and their daughters came along, she gave up her classroom to work with pre-service teachers and their in-service mentors. After many years in adult education in a wide range of grade levels and urban, suburban, and rural schools, Tracy began extensive field research for Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms. She now splits her time between editing math and science professional development books for Stenhouse Publishers and working with the teachers and students of Rollinsford Grade School as a K-6 math coach. Tracy has facilitated a dramatic shift in the math teaching and learning over time at Rollinsford, and she finds her work and relationships there tremendously gratifying.

Tracy is regularly invited to present at major conferences in mathematics education, and she enjoys interacting with colleagues before, during, and after workshops through twitter (@tracyzager) and her blog ( She's happiest when she is in classrooms, learning together with teachers and students over time, and she hopes to return to full-time teaching someday.

Tracy, her husband, and their children jump at the chance to travel, after which they appreciate returning home to their peaceful old house and rambunctious two dogs in Portland, Maine.

Product Details ISBN: 9781571109965
ISBN-10: 157110996X
Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers
Publication Date: January 4th, 2017
Pages: 376
Language: English
Tracy skillfully blends academic research, illuminating classroom dialogues, the thoughts of mathematicians and maths educators, and her own perceptive observations. This seamless mix is a real strength of the book; we not only see what habits are important and why, but how they can be enacted through specific teaching strategies, and the powerful effects they have on our students’ development as confident and capable mathematicians. The reader can’t help but be inspired by the teachers that Tracy holds up as exemplars of good practice… I can confidently say that, alongside ‘Thinking Mathematically‘ (Mason, Burton and Stacey, 1982; 2010), Tracy’s book will become a cornerstone for my teaching. It is a gift to all maths teachers.
-Dr Amie Albrecht

Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms addresses the common gap between mathematicians who perceive math as creative and fun and students who view it is boring at best and frustrating at worst, and helps teachers move students from dull math classes to more vibrant, lively productions. The author spent years with many math teachers in a wide range of settings and grades to collect the successful strategies that would reach grades K-8 through this collection. Chapters offer examples of innovative teaching methods, measurable results in improving math comprehension and usage, and include strategies, examinations of conjectures, and tips on how to lead math students to make new, exciting connections. The result is a powerful survey highly recommended for any math instructor seeking specific keys to not just teaching the basics, but making math relevant and exciting.
-Midwest Book Review

Math concepts can be hard for me to absorb when I’m learning them, not to mention trying to teach them to someone else. After reading this book, though, I have found a sense of confidence and security that I can teach this rigorous subject, and I can teach it using these inspiring strategies. My goal for my students is to help them gain full ownership of mathematical learning. Using strategies like discussing the theories in math and coming up with questions (rather than just providing answers), as Tracy Johnston Zager writes about in Becoming the Math Teach You Wish You’d Had, makes it more likely I will succeed.
Emmy Avery Witham is a student at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, ME and is studying to be a certified teacher.

This post is about Tracy Zager’s most excellent book, Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had. Each chapter starts out comparing how mathematicians talk about what they do and what students’ experience of it is. Then it moves on to detailed examples of the aspect of maths thinking in action in real classrooms, as well as strategies to encourage it both in your students and in yourself as a teacher.
I didn’t expect to see this last point about encouraging these attitudes and thinking in yourself as a teacher. Yet it is the most compelling feature of the book for me. Indeed, I don’t think the book would have had nearly the impact it had on me (or the impact I see it having on others) without this constant message that to help your students experience maths differently, then you yourself need to experience it differently too. More than this, Tracy doesn’t just make this need clear, but actively and compassionately empowers us to seek out ways to fill it.
“Somewhere inside you is a child who used to play with numbers, patterns and shapes. Reconnecting with your inner mathematician will improve your teaching and benefit your students, and it will also benefit you.” — Tracy Zager, Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had, p39
-David Butler

“Revel in the treasures each chapter offers and let it inspire your own curiosity about children’s mathematician ideas…Your copy will become dog-eared, taped, scribbled on, and referenced over and over again." -Elham Kazem