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

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Stenhouse Publishers, 2017 - Effective teaching - 376 pages
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Readers, be warned: you are about to fall in love.

Tracy writes, "Good math teaching begins with us." With those six words, she invites you on a journey through this most magnificent book of stories and portraits...This book turns on its head the common misconception of mathematics as a black-and-white discipline and of being good at math as entailing ease, speed, and correctness. You will find it full of color, possibility, puzzles, and delight...Let yourself be drawn in.

Elham Kazemi, professor, math education, University of Washington

While mathematicians describe mathematics as playful, beautiful, creative, and captivating, many students describe math class as boring, stressful, useless, and humiliating. In Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had, Tracy Zager helps teachers close this gap by making math class more like mathematics.

Tracy spent years with highly skilled math teachers in a diverse range of settings and grades. You'll find this book jam-packed with new thinking from these vibrant classrooms. You'll grapple with big ideas: How is taking risks inherent to mathematics? How do mathematicians balance intuition and proof? How can teachers value both productive mistakes and precision? You'll also find dozens of practical teaching techniques you can try in your classroom right away--strategies to stimulate students to connect ideas; rich tasks that encourage students to wonder, generalize, conjecture, and persevere; routines to teach students how to collaborate.

All teachers can move toward increasingly authentic, delightful, robust mathematics teaching and learning for themselves and their students. This important book helps us develop instructional techniques that will make the math classes we teach so much better than the math classes we took.

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This book is one I would say every teacher who teaches Mathematics in any capacity in elementary or middle school absolutely must read. It is brilliantly written, expresses so many truths that resonate so strongly and provides genuinely game-changing solutions and suggestions (without being didactic or formulaic) which have really transformed my own practice and which make you actually love teaching Mathematics. I have read it more than once and shared it with many colleagues who have all loved it as well. It is an excellent book to use as a shared professional development 'book club' and one that will certainly continue to be an important reference point for many years to come for me. I wish I could turn back time and be the Math teacher I wish I had from the beginning of my career! Tracy Zager is an exceptional communicator and I really believe she will transform a huge number of teachers through this book. 


Chapter 1 Breaking the Cycle
Chapter 2 What Do Mathematicians Do?
Chapter 3 Mathematicians Take Risks
Chapter 4 Mathematicians Make Mistakes
Chapter 5 Mathematicians Are Precise
Chapter 6 Mathematicians Rise to a Challenge
Chapter 7 Mathematicians Ask Questions
Chapter 8 Mathematicians Connect Ideas
Chapter 9 Mathematicians Use Intuition
Chapter 10 Mathematicians Reason
Chapter 11 Mathematicians Prove
Chapter 12 Mathematicians Work Together and Alone
Chapter 13 Favorable Conditions for All Math Students

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About the author (2017)

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.

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