Welcoming Dissent

It’s been so gratifying to hear from people enjoying Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had all around the world. After five years of work on it, I’m over the moon that teachers are finding it useful, approachable, and inspiring (their words, not mine, but oh boy do I love those three words).

I’m worried, though.

I’m worried about the normal, human tendency to not want to hurt my feelings. I’m worried I’m not hearing from people who disagree, or think, “OK, maybe. But what about…” or “In my experience, actually…” I’m worried I’m missing out on my chance to learn from your critiques.

So I wanted to make it explicit. I’d love to hear how, when, and why you disagree or are unconvinced. You can tell me in the comments, on the forums, on twitter using #BecomingMath, via email, on the (nascent) facebook discussion page, or in person next time you see me.

Of course, please keep it civil and constructive. No need to tag in or poke a stick at the ideologues and name-callers from the math wars. I’m not that in need of dissent.

My Manuscript, By the Numbers

Yesterday, I turned in the manuscript for Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms. This is a math education blog, so I’ll mathematicize this process.

581 manuscript pages, 208 figures.


13 chapters.


These 13 chapters.

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Observations of more than 40 highly recommended teachers to find my 4 anchors of this book: Heidi Fessenden, Jennifer Clerkin Muhammad, Deborah Nichols, and Shawn Towle. Enough observations of those teachers to make my hard drive look like this.

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(And those are just the observations I kept because they were book-worthy.)

6 libraries in my regular rotation. Support your libraries, people.

15,611 tweets. I joined the Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere halfway through. I have no idea how I wrote the first half without it.

So many new friends. I’m not counting that one because, well, I’m not a jerk! Not everything important should be mathematized, after all. Doesn’t mean I’m not grateful.

There are the numbers that are technically countable but feel countless to me:

  • The emails, texts, and phone calls with my incredible editor, Toby Gordon. Oh man. Really big number.
  • Revision. I saw David Sedaris live and he prefaced a story by saying, “This is draft number 16.” Fantastic. I didn’t keep track like that because of the way I revise partial drafts. I’m no writing god like David Sedaris, but it was a lot.
  • Milligrams of caffeine. Don’t get me started.

Then there are the numbers I’d like to forget, but were part of this story:

  • 4 tumors.
  • 0 lymph nodes!
  • 4 cycles of chemotherapy.
  • 2 major surgeries, 1 minor one still waiting for me.
  • 262 doses so far from the 3,650 doses of Tamoxifen I’ll take.

This has been quite a journey.

I started this project in the fall of 2011. It grew, and grew, and grew in scope until I turned in this massive manuscript in February of 2016. For the last several months, everyone’s been waiting on me to finish. For the next several months, the team takes over. I get a front row seat and can’t wait to watch the manuscript go through editing, copy editing, typesetting, interior and exterior design, and production. My colleagues at Stenhouse will transform these efiles and manuscript pages into a beautiful, visual experience for the reader. It will be a big book with a lot of figures, and it will take time. Think fall of 2016.

Of course I’m excited to have this book in my hands. For now, I’m pretty excited to have held it in this form.