Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had

Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms

While mathematicians describe mathematics as playful, beautiful, creative, and captivating, many students describe math class as boring, stressful, useless, and humiliating. In this book, Tracy Zager helps teachers close this gap by making math class more like mathematics.

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Ask mathematicians to describe mathematics and they’ll use words like “playful,” “beautiful,” and “creative,” but put 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, Tracy Zager helps teachers close this gap by making math class more like mathematics. Tracy has spent years working with highly skilled math teachers in a diverse range of settings and grades. You’ll find this book jam-packed with new ideas from these vibrant classrooms.


  • TEACHING STUDENT-CENTERED MATHEMATICS: Tracy 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 APPLICATIONS: This math book contains dozens of practical and accessible teaching techniques that focus on fundamental mathematical concepts, including strategies that stimulate connection of big ideas; rich tasks that encourage students to wonder, generalize, conjecture, and persevere; and routines to teach students how to collaborate.

  • KEY TOPICS FOR ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE GRADES 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. 

All teachers can move toward 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.

“Revel in the treasures each chapter offers and let it inspire your own curiosity about children’s mathematical ideas. That’s what this book is about. Your copy will become
dog-eared, taped, scribbled on, and referenced over and over again.”

-- Elham Kazemi, co-author of Intentional Talk: How to Structure and Lead Productive
Mathematical Conversations


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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

About the Author(s)

Tracy has worked in many schools over the course of her career, first as a fourth-grade teacher, then as a supervisor of preservice teachers and their in-service mentors, and currently as a math coach. Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had and the Building Fact Fluency toolkits (co-authored with Graham Fletcher) grew out of Tracy’s work in classrooms, where she’s most in her element, learning together with teachers and students over time.


Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Elham Kazemi
  • Acknowledgments
  • 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
  • References
  • Index


Product Details

Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Media: 392 pp/paperMedia: Becoming the Math Teacher You Wished You'd Had Book Study Bundle
Year: 2016
Item No: 0996Item No: 1433-8
ISBN: 978-1-57110-996-5ISBN: 978-1-62531-433-8
Hashtag: #BecomingMath